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 04 2014 (Member Sponsored) 
Evie Ladin and Keith Terry - House Concert
Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 8 pm. Catonsville, MD.
House Concert at the home of McGregor Yatsevitch and Barbara Svoboda.
Energetic and electrifying clawhammer banjo, bass, percussive dance, storytelling songs both old and new, with nuanced, emotive vocals. An intimate yet robust evening of old-time and blues inspired folk music, hilarious anecdotes, and virtuosic dance performances anchored by Keith's Body Music and Evie's step dancing.
Evie is the daughter of Jay Ladin, a mainstay of BFMS for a couple of decades!
$15 at the door. Reservations necessary. Barbara Svoboda, svob@comcast.net
 
October 06 2014 
English Country Dance
New Dancers Workshop (free) at 7:45 PM

Susan Taylor calls to Tina Chancey (violin), Robin Wilson(flute, concertina) and Francine Krasowska (piano)
 
October 08 2014 
FreeFall Baltimore
Once again, BFMS is participating in FreeFall Baltimore, thanks to a generous grant by the FreeFall folks. This is the first of 2 dances where all dancers will get to dance for FREE - members, non-members, students, everyone!
Janine Smith calls to the Dead Sea Squirrels.
New dancer orientation at 7:30 pm.
 
October 11 2014 
Family Dance
Caller: Anna Rain

Band: Some Assembly with Joe Klausner (Fiddle, Mandelin, Banjo), Mary Corletta Flora (Flute, Sax, Penny Whistles.... and all manner of wind instruments), Donna Boylan (Piano & Accordion), Adam Lee (Guitar) and Iain Sturrock (Piano, Guitar adn Cajon)
 
October 11 2014 
Playford Ball
This year's Playford Ball will again be held at the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore, Maryland. On-Line registration is now open. Please visit the Playford Ball page for more information.
 
October 11 2014 
2nd Saturday Dance
Band: Some Assembly with Joe Klausner (Fiddle, Mandolin and Banjo), Mary Corletta Flora (Flute, Saxophone, Penny Whistles and all manner of Wind Instruments), Donna Boylan (Piano and Accordian), Adam Lee (Guitar) and Iain Sturrock (Piano,Guitar and Cajon)

Caller: Anna Rain
 
October 13 2014 
English Country Dance
Ann Fallon calls to Elke Baker (violin), Brian Cardell (winds), and Liz Donaldson (piano)
 
October 15 2014 
Square/Contra Dance
April Blum calls to Taylor Among the Devils.