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Welcome New Dancers!

What is a contra dance? 
This is the dance form America grew up with: the barn dance, the hoedown, the fancy dress ball. It’s been fun for more than three centuries. It’s still fun.

It’s easy, yet never boring. As quickly as you’ll pick up the mechanics of moves, you’ll also start seeing patterns, flow, rhythms, begin to appreciate the beauty of the patterns. All danced to live music: fantastic fiddle tunes, driving Celtic rhythms, Cajun and old-timey and whatever else the band gets charged up with.

  • What is contra dancing?
    Contra dance is an American folk dance that is a mixing pot of cultural influences. These influences include English, French, Irish, Scottish, Canadian, African American, Native American, & Appalachian, and maybe even more! Many people compare Contra dancing to Square dancing because they do have similar roots and some shared figures. However, the Contra dance you see today is much younger dance, and is continually evolving. Contra is a partner dance, but that does not mean you have to bring one to the dance! As a community dance, in Contra you dance with your partner, and with everyone else in the room! Contra is also a “Called” dance, which means there will be a caller, or dance instructor, who will teach each dance in a “walkthrough” beforehand. During the dance, the caller will call, or prompt, the next move, giving the dancers reminders of what’s coming next. This is what makes contra dancing easy to learn, you don’t have to remember everything!
  • Is there a beginner lesson?
    Yes! 30 minutes before the start of every dance we have a beginner lesson covering the basic moves of the dance. If you can walk and smile, you can do this kind of dance. The caller will explain all the moves and walk you through the dance before it starts, and continue to prompt you as the dance goes on. Pretty soon everybody in the room is doing it mostly right, and everyone is having fun!
  • Do I need to bring a partner?
    This is “community” dancing. Come alone or with another; you’re WELCOME either way. Our dances focus on the group, not on individual couples. There’s no awkward singles scene, nor hidden agendas when asking someone to dance. People of all ages and social situations just come to have fun and dance!
  • I’m a new dancer. What should I wear? What should I bring?
    Dress comfortably! Contra dancing is great exercise, and it is a good workout, and so don’t overdress - or make sure you dress in layers. Shorts and skirts, particularly in the warmer weather, are often seen. Don’t worry about what to wear – there is no special costume, just be comfortable. You probably will get sweaty as you dance. Please leave the perfume and cologne at home as other dancers may be sensitive to it. And bring a water bottle to stay hydrated!
  • Should I wear a certain type of shoe?
    Since we dance on hardwood floors, many people bring a separate pair of shoes from the ones they wear to the dance. If possible, it is preferred not to dance in shoes with rubber soles, as these are harder on your joints – ankles, knees and hips. But people have danced in socks, barefoot, in tennis shoes or whatever.
  • What if I don’t know how to dance?
    Contradancing is not difficult. It is said that if you know right from left, can walk, and can count to eight, that’s all you need. Contradances are repetitive; you do the same set of steps over and over – if you don’t get it at first, you have lots of opportunities to practice. Dancers are very welcoming, and they will help you and not expect you to know what you are doing. Everyone attended their first dance at some point. It is about having fun, not about making no mistakes.
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