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.

July 27 2014 
Fourth at Four
Storytelling at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church
 
July 28 2014 
English Country Dance
Rich Galloway calls to Barbara Gorin (violin, etc.), Marty Taylor (winds, concertina), and Liz Donaldson (piano)
 
July 29 2014 (Member Sponsored) 
Alan Reid and Janie Meneely
Music from the Scottish Shores, and a little from the Chesapeake Bay. Singer/Songwriters Alan Reid, from Scotland, and Bay-born Janie Meneely team up for an evening of sea music inspired by the seascapes they call home. Joining together on harmonies and instrumentation, the two bring their rich store of music as well as a penchant for humor and for telling the story behind the songs. Suggested minimum donation: $15. 8 PM at 2205 Sulgrave Ave, Baltimore, MD. For reservations please contact Susan and Mark at sgresens at towson.edu.
 
July 30 2014 
Square/contra dance
Dick Bearman calls to Unbowed - Henry Koretzky (mandolin), Jamie O'Brien (guitar), and Bruce Campbell (bass). This dance will be FREE to all BFMS members.
 
August 04 2014 
English Country Dance
Free New Dancer orientation at 7:45

Mike Franch calls to Emily Aubrey (violin), Heather Martley (flute), and Liz Donaldson (piano)
 
August 06 2014 
Square/Contra Dance
TBA calls to TBA.
 
August 09 2014 
2nd Saturday Dance
Band: Baltimore Open Band

Caller: TBA

Come early at 6:00 pm for a Picnic and Jam. Note: this is not a potluck... just bring food for yourself. But, if you want to bring extra to share or put on the snack table during the dance.... no laws against that!
 
August 11 2014 
English Country Dance
Carl Friedman calls to Becky Ross (violin), Robin Wilson (flute, concertina), and Judy Meyers (piano)