Paul Bristow (U.K.)
I was born on 20th July 1958 in Ruislip, Middlesex. Unfortunately, the early part of my life was relatively uneventful until that warm July day in 1975 when my parents Denis and Pamela began a new hobby; Square Dancing! I started dancing at Up-To-The-Centre later that same year. In 1976 I picked up a microphone and set myself on a course from which there was to be no escape, Calling!
In 1977 Jim Ive plucked me from obscurity and offered me my first Job as a Club Caller, for Rockin' 8s. During 1978 I became Club Caller for Up-To-The-Centre, following Ron Hepden's departure.
Hazel and I were married on 16th May 1981 at Pinner Parish Church. The building was straining at the seams to contain all the Dancers who came to bear witness to our union. To this day Hazel still reminds me that our honeymoon included a Dance in South Devon, a demonstration outside a cinema in Golders Green and - on the final Saturday - a Dance at Hastings. The Tuesday after we returned from our Honeymoon I started Calling for a new club - the Chalfont Grand Squares (well, after all, the Honeymoon was over!).
As we set about setting up home together my life took on several new directions, apart from those usually associated with newly weds, my Calling career discovered new frontiers. Europe! I Called at the Windmill Dance in Holland in 1982 and since then have been a regular visitor to Europe. By 1983 my Saturday bookings had almost all transferred from One-Nite-Stands to club Dances and weekend festivals. It was also during 1983 that I received my first invitation to Call in Scandinavia at the Swedish National Convention of 1985 in Katrineholm.
Since 1985 I have been invited to Call at all the British National Conventions and was involved with the planning and the Calling at the B.A.A.S.D.C.'s 50th Birthday Dance in March 2003, as well as Calling at the 60th in 2013. I have also Called on a considerable number of National Conventions in Sweden and Denmark, the European/BAASDC Jamboree held in Canterbury in 1986 and the International Plus Advanced and Challenge Convention (IPAC) in 1997.
In 1992 I was invited to tour Australia and New Zealand and in 1994 I became the first European Caller ever to be featured at an Australian National Convention, in Canberra (in fact it was only the third occasion that they had used an invited guest Caller to compliment the considerable wealth of Calling talent that is indigenous to the Antipodes). During this trip I was also featured at the only Square Dance ever held at Parliament House (the Australian equivalent to our Houses of Parliament). I have been featured twice on the APAC (the Australian equivalent of the IPAC) in 1997 and 1998. I have now enjoyed travelling to Australia - by invitation - on a total of eight separate occasions; three times to tour various states and five times to call at a single weekend event!
In August 1997 I had the honour to appear on the first Pan European Square Dance Convention, at Hocheim in Germany, which brought together Dancers from all countries in the European Union and the greater European region. Since then there has been a total of nine of these events (one every two years), I have appeared on seven of these and am already booked to appear at the tenth Pan European Square Dance Convention in Stratford-Upon-Avon, U.K., in 2016.
I have also Called, by invitation, at many special Dances in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, New Zealand and (of course) Australia.
I have Called at three American National conventions one Canadian National convention and at a number of clubs in the USA; including in 1996 a week at Copecrest, Georgia with Tony Oxendine and - in 2003 - the Rivco Festival in Palm Springs, California, alongside Jerry Story, Larry Letson, Johnny Preston and Bronc Wise.
I am an accredited member of the Square Dance Callers Club of Great Britain, on whose Council I served as Public Relations Officer from 1978 and as Vice President from 1980 till 1987. I am currently the Training Director of the S.D.C.C.G.B., responsible for co-ordinating a team of regional Caller-Trainers in the U.K. and for managing the Caller-Training and Caller Accreditation process.
I joined Callerlab, the "International Association of Callers and Teachers" in 1983. I am presently a full and accredited member and I have served on the Mainstream, Plus, Mainstream Quarterly, Plus Quarterly , Target 2000 committees as well as on the Extended Applications ad-hoc Committee. I was the Chairman of the Music Ethics ad-hoc committee, who were responsible for reviews and recommendations that led to the creation of the Guild of P.R.I.D.E. (Professional Recorded Instrumental Digital Entertainers). At present, I am a member of Caller Coaches Committee, the Applications Review Committee and the Program Policy Committee.
In April 2000, having met the relevant criteria and completed the necessary examinations and evaluations my application for accreditation by the Executive Board of Governors of Callerlab, was successful; Callerlab, in turn bestowed upon me the extreme distinction of the title of "Callerlab Accredited Caller Coach". In accordance with the requirements of this status I have successfully obtained re-accreditation, in 2005 and 2010 and have applied for re-accreditation for 2015.
In 1986 I was privileged to receive an invitation to become a Staff Caller for Sting Records, (well, I had to mention them somewhere!). In April 2000 I became the owner and producer of Sting and Snow Records. To date I have produced a total of 353 pieces of music for Square Dancing; of these I have recorded my own vocals for eighty-five records as well as four guest vocals one for Global Music Productions, one for Seven Cs and two for Gramophone Productions.
As a consequence of my connections with Sting and Snow, I have had the opportunity to be involved in all stages of the production of music. From selecting the tunes and re-arranging them into Square Dance records to working with some of the best musicians and studio engineers in the world to produce a top quality, much respected and well renowned library of excellent music for use in our wonderful activity. As well as dealing “remotely” with studios in Texas, Nashville, Sweden, Germany and Denmark, I have travelled to Nashville to attend studio sessions, involving anywhere from seven to nine players, on ten occasions and intend to return, on a regular basis, to keep Sting Productions stocked up with good music.
At present I am very fortunate to be able to Call regularly for Black Arrows 2001 (Advanced), Chalfont Grand Squares (Plus) and Rockin' 8s (teaching Mainstream). In the past I have had the privilege to be the club Caller for Up-To-The-Centre, Bushey Hoedowners, Ruislip Rollaways, and Wyvern Wheelers.
As you will see from the above, as of 2015, Square Dancing has been a significant factor in my life for the last thirty-nine years. Judging from my calendars for future years this situation seems destined to continue. I am not complaining!