General Information - Contra Dancing


Some Pictures

What is Contra Dancing?

Contra Dancing is a form of North American folk dance in which the dancers form two sets of parallel lines which run the length of the hall. Each dance consists of a sequence of moves that ends with couples having progressed one position up or down the set (in a few dances the couple progresses two positions). As the Sequence is repeated, a couple will eventually dance with every other couple in the set. Contra Dancing was all the rage in 1800.

Is Contra Dancing similar to square dancing?

Many of the basic moves in Contra Dancing are similar to those in square dancing (swings, promenades, dos-a-dos, allemandes). A square dance set comprises only four couples whereas the number of couples in a Contra Dance set is limited only by the length of the hall. To join a set, all you need is a partner. If you have danced squares, you will enjoy Contras immediately.

What if I have never danced before?

In Contra Dancing, your feet are never asked to do more than walk to the music. Each dance is taught by the caller before it is danced. The caller continues to prompt the dancers as needed. Because the pattern of moves of each Contra Dance is repeated often, Contra Dances are easy to learn. Both beginning and experienced dancers happily share the same set.

Why should I dance Contra?

Contra Dances have a relaxed, family-like atmosphere where the emphasis is on dancing, a welcome relief to noisy and smoky dance halls. The patterns of the dances are nifty. Contra Dancing is excellent exercise that you can take at you own pace. Above all, Contra Dancers form a community of friendly, active people and they welcome new dancers, be they youngsters or seniors. Most dancers range from 25 to 50 years old.

What if I don't have a partner?

No problem. Many people come to a Contra Dance alone. Dancers are encouraged to dance with many different partners throughout the evening. If there is an excess of one gender, it is customary for women to dance men's parts (and vice versa) to form couples and extend the set.

Do I need to wear special clothes?

No. Contra Dancers tend to dress informally. Most people dress for comfort and in anticipation of vigorous exercise. Ladies prefer loose, light dresses or skirts; men wear lightweight slacks, jeans, or even shorts. Be sure to wear soft-soled, comfortable shoes.

What is the music like?

For many dancers, the live music is the great attraction. Traditional jigs, reels, and hornpipes from the Scots-Irish tradition on both sides of the Atlantic form the basic repertoire. The fiddle is often the lead instrument.

Written by Les Francey and Farrell Boyce, Hamilton Country Dancers.



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The Baltimore Folk Music Society is funded by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive.

Coming up:

See our Events page for a complete listing of events and details.

October 26 2014 
Fourth at Four
Storytelling at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church
 
October 27 2014 
English Country Dance
Halloween party: come dressed as your favorite English dance, and our callers will try to guess your dance and call it!

Bring refreshments to share at the break

Diane Schmit and Rich Galloway call to Emily Aubrey (violin), David Crandall (flute, sax), and Jonathan Jensen (piano, etc.)
 
October 29 2014 
Square/Contra Dance
Halloween Dance! Come in costume, and prizes to be awarded in several categories of costumes, including 2 tickets to the upcoming Mid Winter Ball! Vicki Herndon calls to the Treble Makers.
 
October 30 2014 (Member Sponsored) 
BFMS Open Sing
7:30-9:30 PM, in the back room at the Wharf Rat in Fells Point
 
November 05 2014 
Square/Contra Dance
Greg Frock calls to the Avant Gardeners: Laura Light (fiddle), Roger Gold (guitar), Loren Oppenheimer (tabla).
 
November 08 2014 
Family Dance
Band: Contra Rebels with Todd Clewell (fiddle), Barb Schmid (fiddle) and Henry Koretzky (guitar)

Caller: Kim Forry
 
November 08 2014 
2nd Saturday Dance
Band: Contra Rebels with Todd Clewell (fiddle), Barb Schmid (fiddle) and Henry Koretzky (guitar)

Caller: Laura Brown
 
November 09 2014 (Member Sponsored) 
Bill Staines House Concert in Catonsville, MD
Sunday, November 9, 2014 3 pm
Longview Cottage House Concerts
127 Longview Drive, 21228

With songs like All God's Critters, The Roseville Fair, Child of Mine, and River to his credit, Bill Staines has twenty-six recordings and has written over three hundred songs. His music is sung at campfires and folk music gatherings, in homes and churches, all around the country. What better way to hear him?

$15 at the door. Reservations necessary. Info: Barbara Svoboda, svob@comcast.net. Please note that this is a Sunday afternoon concert! There might be a potluck afterwards. If that materializes, I will let you know when I send the reminder letter the week of the concert.