I want to take a moment to thank all the people at the ICBDA convention in Lakeland, FL this past week. I greatly appreciate all the kind words of support, and the personal stories you shared with me about how intolerance and homophobia have impacted someone you know and love.

Several of you asked about the text of my remarks. The full text can be found here: MY REMARKS

Many of you also asked about additional resources for Lesbian and Gay youth.

These are but a few of the myriad resources available today. If you have someone in your life that you think needs help, please do not hestitate. Too many young lives have been lost to hatred. Sometimes all it takes to save a life is to know that someone cares. You are that person.

Feel free to contact me directly. I will be happy to offer any assistance I can. CONTACT RICHARD

Thank you all again for your kind words, emails and phone calls. It's good to be home.

Discussing timing in writing is a difficult thing to do. But ….

The musical notation system we use is specific to our Western oriented thinking and understanding of music, which is NOT comprehensive, or adequate to the task of describing all that can be created by gifted musicians, and dancers. Nor does it adequately reflect the rich traditions of other cultures in which the musical traditions include uncommon time signatures and accents.

I want to address a different set of issues, specifically the widespread use of ROLLING COUNT timing in some dance communities (most notably West Coast Swing) and the use of spoken timings that are expressed differently in written form.

Getting Started….

Musically, the NUMBER is the first note or rest (regardless of duration) in a bar of music. The remainder of the bar follows. It is customary to count the NUMBERS as the notes associated with the bottom number in the time signature.  So for 3/4, 4/4, 2/4 , we count quarter notes as numbers. For 2/2 , we count half notes as the numbers.

An example using a bit of Round Dance punctuation where a comma signifies the end of a beat and a semi-colon the end of a bar (measure): (If you just HAVE to know more about that… Reading A Cuesheet )

3/4 music is written 1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3;
4/4 music is written 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4;

4/4 can also be counted in slows and quicks in a variety of ways. It is customary for quicks to come in pairs.

Q, Q, Q, Q;
S, -, S, -;
S, -, Q, Q;
Q, Q, S, -;

All ways of expressing the four beats.

Music is a mathematically exact written representation of a limited set of possibilities. Clever people can take this notation and use it to express many things, but some real world rhythms simply can not be expressed in traditional western musical notation. But it is still a rich and useful set of notations, based on dividing by 2.

1 1 / 2 1 / 4 1 / 8 1 / 16 etc.

The DOT notation allows for greater flexibility. When a note is DOTTED you take half again as much as base value of the note and add that to the base value of the note. For example:

1  = 1 / 2 +   1 / 2
1 / 2 =   1 / 4 +   1 / 4
1 / 4 =   1 / 8 +   1 / 8


1 / 2 =   1 / 4 1 / 8 1 / 8

BUT, you could use the DOT ( · ) notation to create:

1 / 2 =   1 / 4 · +   1 / 8

That is,   1 / 4 plus the Dot (half again of the  1 / 4 , so  1 / 8 ) plus the remainder, so another  1 / 8 .

As long as all the notes and rests add up to the total given in the top number of the time signature, everything is fine. That is a starting place for understanding how we talk about music and timing, and what we mean when we talk about music and timing.

Counting Music The Lawrence Welk Way

Why did Lawrence Welk say:  "An a ONE an a TWO" ? The answer is a human issue, not a musical one. Ask another person (or group of people is even better) to CLAP when you say GO. Then ….  say, "GO." Chances are, especially in group, that you will NOT all clap at the same time.

Now ask them to CLAP when you say ONE. Then say, "And A ONE." Chances are, you all clap at the same time.

The purpose of this "AND A" is to give warning of the event ONE so that we can all be in sync. When music is PLAYING, we don't need that because the previous beats of music tell us when to expect the next beat of music. But when we are just counting a beat, starting from nothing, we have to provide some kind of indication as to WHEN to start against the counting. Most dance teachers figure this out pretty early on, and come up with their own way of getting everyone moving at the same time. For example:

5 6 7 8 …..
5 6 Ready AND….

I had a partner who would use the following for WALTZ:

"HERE WE GO" Spoken in a even way.

It really doesn't matter what you say, as long as people know WHEN to expect the beat so they can all move together. In West Coast Swing, it is common practice to say: "AND A" …. before each beat. That serves the purpose of getting everyone going, but …..It also does something else.

The Concept of a Triplet

Musical notate is based on dividing by 2, as noted above. But the AND A ONE, AND A TWO counting does not match that basic split of beats. That counting is dividing by 3, creating THIRDS. Let's see if we can picture this….

A number followed by 11 dashes (a total of 12 things). The following must be displayed in a FIXED WIDTH FONT to see it.  The reason for 12 is it is the smallest number that is divisible by 4 and by 3, which we need to see the full picture of how different ways of counting produce very different interpretations of the music. (And the potential movement against the music).

1 - - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - - 1
1 - - - - - & - - - - - 2 - - - - - & - - - - - 3 - - - - - & - - - - - 1
1 - - e - - & - - a - - 2 - - e - - & - - a - - 3 - - e - - & - - a - - 1
1 - - - & - - - a - - - 2 - - - & - - - a - - - 3 - - - & - - - a - - - 1
  • The first line is just a standard 3/4 bar of music counting only the BEATS, that is, the numbers, each representing a 1 / 4 note in music. 
  • The second line a standard 3 / 4 bar of music counting BEATS and half beats (the "&"s) and would be written using 1 / 8 notes. 
  • The third line is a standard 3 / 4 bar of music counting BEATS, and 1 / 4 beats, and would be written using 1 / 16 notes. 
  • The FOURTH line is a  ROLLING COUNT , which divides the bar (measure) into equal THIRDS.

Musically this is what is knows as a TRIPLET. A TRIPLET is three notes in the space / time of two notes. Normally, 1 / 4 note = TWO 1 / 8 notes. In a musical triplet, we replace the SPACE (or time) of TWO notes, with THREE equally spaced (time valued) notes. The notation is a curved arc over the three linked notes. So in a TRIPLE 1 / 4 = ( 1 / 8 + 1 / 8 + 1 / 8 ). 

Mathematically this is wrong. It should be 1 / 4 = 1 / 12 + 1 / 12 + 1 / 12 .  We don't have a notation for a 1/12th note directly. What we have is the TRIPLET notation. If you want to know more about Triplets, I recommend The Eighth Note Triplet

What's important for our purposes is to get is that the "AND" and "A" of a ROLLING COUNT do not fall in the same place as the "AND" and "A" of a standard count.

Skippy Blair, who is widely recognized as the CREATOR of West Coast Swing, teaches exclusively using ROLLING COUNT. Not just for WCS, but for ALL dances. In my opinion MY OPINION, let me say that again MY OPINION, she is BRILLIANT and her contribution to the dance world has been AMAZING and she deserves ALL the respect and admiration that the dance world can heap upon her.  AND basically what she has is a really really good hammer, and treats all music as if it is a nail. It produces a predictable result, but frankly, I think I know more about waltz and foxtrot than she does. Rolling Count is not the best way to treat all music and all dancing. My OPINION… MY OPINION.  MY OPINION. If I ever Ever EVER hear any one say that I said Skippy Blair was wrong, I'll will personally hunt them down and correct them with a 2×4. But that is beside the point….

Skippy also always counts ALL the ROLLING COUNT sounds AND she always starts with the "AND" and "A" from the previous measure to ensure that when you MOVE, you move when she wants you to. Bear in mind, that one says AND A ONE, AND A TWO this does not mean the AND and A belong to the same BEAT (or even BAR) of music as the ONE, or the TWO, etc. But it creates a mental linkage that can be important. Again: THE "AND" and "A" do NOT belong to the ONE. They belong to the PREVIOUS BEAT. The PREVIOUS BEAT. THE PREVIOUS BEAT !!!!

Rolling Count In Dancing

Of all the communities of dancers I know about, the ones who do the most with Rolling Count is the West Coast Swing dance community. Some might say that you don't really know WCS until you figure out how Rolling Count works.

Let's look at a 6  count basic (side pass, sugar push etc). Using Rolling Count, it would be:

& a 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a 5 & a 6
    ^     ^     ^   ^ ^     ^   ^ ^

In contrast, someone NOT from deep within the WCS community is likely to count WCS those six count basics as: 1  2  3&4 5&6, and treat the 3&4 5&6 as triples, splitting the 1 / 4 notes into 1 / 4 1 / 4 . NOT TRIPLETS, but Triples.

They are VERY different, and that is the basic point of this exposition. Is that WRONG?  No… Is that consistent with what people who are truly experts in the WCS do?   NO WAY.

This is just great for WCS and a few other dances. But is NOT consistent with how the majority of the world views the traditional ballroom and Latin dances.

Skippy would have Cha Cha as: (switch to fixed font again)

& a 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4
    ^     ^     ^   ^ ^

In other words, you step on 1, 2, 3 A 4, which is NOT an even split of the 3 beat into two equal halves.

Pretty much the rest of the dance world will tell you that CHA CHA is 1 2 3 & 4 (traditional break on ONE count) OR 1 2 3 4 & (break on TWO count) where the & represents an exact HALF of the beat.

Many dance teachers will even say WHOLE WHOLE HALF HALF WHOLE to emphasize the even-ness of the CHA CHA CHA part.

Musically 1/4   1/4   1/8   1/8   1/4    OR   1/4   1/4   1/4   1/8   1/8 (break on TWO)

Who is RIGHT?

Depends on who you ask. But Latin dancers believe Cha Cha is an even split regardless of what WCS dancers say about it. AND visa versa.

Let's look at a waltz measure.

Suppose you wanted to take FOUR steps in the THREE beats of music.

There are THREE ways to represent this, using standard Round Dance notation:

  •  1 / &, 2, 3;
  •  1, 2 / &, 3;
  •  1, 2, 3 / &;

But what about ….. &1, 2, 3;  ?  Does that represent a split of the ONE beat? If so, how is that different from 1&, 2, 3; which is also a split of the ONE beat?

In Western musical notation, and in Round Dance notation, the NUMBER always represents the start of the beat. The '&' always represents the second half of a split beat. At least, that's what we have in writing.

You can SAY &123 in a way that makes it seem like they split the ONE, but Round Dance (and musical) notation does not support that. 

Let's take a simple example where everyone agrees on the rhythm and the written notation: CHASSE: 12&3… I think it is safe to say, everyone agrees… 12&3.

The written description is:

[Chasse (12&3)]  Step, step / close, step;

So my question to those who promote &1 descriptions of figures is:

If I'm allowed to say that &1 and 1& can both be valid when I'm splitting beat ONE, why can't I say that 1&23 is the same as 12&3 when splitting the TWO beat, like in the chasse?

A) [Chasse (12&3)]  Step, step / close, step;

B) [Chasse (1&23)]  Step, step / close, step;

Perhaps it depends on what I do with my VOICE….

ONE (pause) AND TWO (pause) THREE

That's the same as:

ONE (pause) TWO AND (pause) THREE

Isn't it?   Come on.  They're the same… Aren't they?

It doesn't matter how many times I say it, or what emphasis I put into my voice, in written form, they are NOT the same.

Let's look at an example where it might actually make a difference.


For the Follower, this is 7 steps taken over two measures.  THE question ALWAYS gets asked. Here is my version of the question in excruciating detail:

Does the Follower take FOUR steps in the first measure and THREE steps in the second measure OR, does the Follower take THREE steps in the first measure and FOUR steps in the second measure?

Mind you, the way that question is usually asked is not nearly as specific and clear as what I just wrote. But that is what the follower (and good leaders) wants to know. Which measure is syncopated?  (And how is it syncopated, since the second measure COULD use chasse timing as a valid option…. But that is too much, even for me 😉

If I answer by giving the following COUNT:


Then, you simply CAN NOT tell what I mean. Those words alone are not sufficient to answer the question.

I can use my VOICE to indicate the split I want. There are TWO options:

A) 123& (pause) 123

B) 123  (pause)   &123

Ok GREAT. It was clear when I said it. BUT, will it match what I wrote?

Round Dance written descriptions allow me to split the current beat into NUMBER / &, but do NOT allow me to split the current beat into & / NUMBER.

I can show:

Version A:   Desc, desc, desc / desc;  Desc, desc, desc;

And I can show:

Version B:   Desc, desc, desc; Desc / desc, desc, desc;

Each of these long descriptions is clear and represents a particular timing to dance. But cuesheets might include more than the long description. They might include a COUNT.

For the first example above it is easy. I get:

Version A:   [Spin & Twist (123&; 123)]  Desc, desc, desc / desc;  Desc, desc, desc;

But I have TWO things I could write for version B)

Version B-1:   [Spin & Twist (123; &123)] Desc, desc, desc; Desc / desc, desc, desc;

Version B-2:   [Spin & Twist (123; 1&23)] Desc, desc, desc; Desc / desc, desc, desc;

For versions B-1 and B-2, the written description is IDENTICAL, and only the manner in which I notate the split beat in the COUNT differs.

Which is "correct"?  Is &1 a special case? You can only split the ONE beat in front of the beat, but you can't split the TWO beat in front of the beat, only AFTER the beat?

Of course !! That makes perfect sense…

&123 is NOT the same as 1&23.  &123 means to steal a little bit of time from the PREVIOUS beat. 1&23 means to split the first beat.

REALLY ???? Then why not WRITE it that way, since we have a perfectly good, consistent, and universally understood way of DOING THAT.

Just my somewhat less than humble opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Many people have expressed interest in the eulogy that I gave at my father’s funeral on Saturday, November 8, 2008. Although the honor and privilege of speaking was mine, all six of my brothers and sisters participated in the writing. The document is available for download as a Word document by clicking HERE.

In Memorium
Harry W. Lamberty

August 4, 1927 – November 6, 2008

By the Lamberty Children

Our father gave each of us something to remember. Let me give you an example:

‘i’ squared equals minus one.

The man was an engineer.

So, ‘i’ squared equals minus one. And a pint’s a pound the world around.

When I say he gave us something to remember, I mean specifically, to each of us, his children, something he wanted us to learn and remember for the rest of our lives.

He gave Bill: ‘i’ squared equals minus one.

He gave Kane: A pint’s a pound the world around.

He gave me: The upper lip of a giraffe is prehensile.

The upper lip of a giraffe is prehensile. It may not seem earth shattering; the kind of thing you remember for the rest of your life. But that’s not what was important.

What IS important is that everything our father did in his life was thoughtful, considerate and deliberate.

Thoughtful in that he thought about what he said, and what he did, before saying it or doing it.
Considerate in that he gave careful consideration to the impact his words and actions would have on the people around him.

Deliberate in that he ALWAYS made his decisions based on what he believed was right.

Those whose lives were touched by our father may not always remember the things he said, like we do. He didn’t often speak forcefully. But they will remember the things he did. The thoughtful, considered and deliberate choices he made that impacted the world in which he lived.

Shortly after the end of the Vietnam conflict, when he was the head of the parish council, they were discussing whether or not the parish should sponsor a Vietnamese refugee family. He offered the opinion that the question was not WHETHER they should sponsor a family, but rather… how many.

Our father constantly surprised us. No one would expect this practical and pragmatic man to have an artistic streak that would manifest throughout his life.

If you have ever been to our parent’s home, you have seen his collection of Southwestern art. But his artistic streak was not limited to collecting.

As a young married couple, with seven children still at home, he made the conscious and deliberate decision to create what we would now-a-days call “quality time” with his wife, and together they took up square dancing.

I am a professional ballroom dancer and world champion, but I would never have started dancing if it wasn’t for them dancing, AND sharing their passion for dancing with us.

He used to drive me all the way across town just so I could dance with the teen square dance group. He never spoke to me while we were in the car alone. I always thought it was because he was ashamed that I was dancing instead of doing something like playing ball. Little did I know that he didn’t talk because he had a hearing problem and the background noise of the car made it impossible for him to hear me while he was driving.

When I got the extraordinary privilege of working at White Sands on the same project as my father, I was stunned to see a framed copy of the poster from my first public ballroom dancing exhibition on the wall of his office.

And that was not the only memento of his family. Each of us was represented. As much as he loved his work, and he truly did, FAMILY was always more important. His office represented his love for his family through the art he put in it.

As that family grew to include spouses, his love grew too. Each of his children’s wives and husbands were welcomed into his life.

Whether it was sitting and discussing World War Two airplanes with Mary’s husband, Tom, or talking sports with Amy’s husband, Richard, or sharing a cup of coffee with Ted’s wife Susie, our father made each of them his own.

It was typical that when Kane’s wife, Barbara, who collects South Pacific art and artifacts, brought him a model outrigger canoe in pieces, he not only put it back together, but spend hours and hours repairing, cleaning and restoring it, including fabricating missing pieces with such precision and in such detail that only an expert could tell that they were not a part of the original work of art.

And he didn’t do this just once, but time and time again. In fact, he completed the last one less than two weeks before his death.

Perhaps the most surprising, the most unique expression of his creative and artistic sense are his now legendary bowling pins.

What started as a quirky way to hold a door open became a wonderful gift for the members of our family. And before long, it became an honor for others to receive one of Harry’s creations: A treasured, thoughtful gift, created as an individual expression of his profound respect, love and admiration of the recipient.

As remarkable as his art was, perhaps the greatest gift Harry has ever given is a lifetime of devotion to his wife, Jackie.

They met because they were set up. Harry’s mother had a car, which in the late 40s, made Harry special. The group of friends wanted to find someone to go with Harry on their group date. But who could they get for this shy, awkward young man? How about a vivacious lovely young woman with a quick wit and a beautiful smile?

So six of them piled into Harry’s mother’s car to go dancing. Although he would later become quite an accomplished dancer, Harry was, at that point, a clumsy Cal, and not exactly blessed with the gift of gab. No worries, since Jackie was good at both.

When Jackie got home after their first date, her mother was waiting up for her. “What was he like”, she asked? “He’s homely”, she replied.

And when Harry got home, his sister asked, “What was she like?” “She’s fat”, he said.

Over time, this homely man and this fat woman created a remarkable love that was just as strong on the day he died as it was on the day they got married, 57 years, 2 months, and 7 days before.

‘i’ squared equals minus one.
A pint’s a pound the world around.
The upper lip of a giraffe is prehensile.

Our father gave us, his children, WORDS to remember. He gave us ALL, a LIFE to remember.