Contra dancing :)

Marlene Powell
Marlene Powell
@marlene-powell
2 weeks ago
1 posts

How interesting to run across this thread.  I am a long-time contra dancer as well as a flatfooter/clogger (was in a couple of different performance troupes for several years.  I love old-time dance and music so much that I wrote my dissertation on it all those many years ago (Creating Community: An Ethnography of Old-Time Dance Groups).  I'm getting ready to teach a flatfooting class this Fall at our local senior center.  Keep dancing, all.  Keeps us young, and you can't beat the music.  

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
2 months ago
114 posts

AHHHHHHHHHH, WHAT A FABULOUS THREAD.  When I moved from Hawaii to Ashland, Oregon, I went to some Contra Dancing and had never seen it done in Hawaii. (of course)  Loved it.  For some reason, I married the ONLY TONGAN from Tonga that didn't dance.  But he made up for it by playing so many instruments and that's been the best.  In Ashland, there was a harp maker that played wonderful hammered dulcimer and he'd just about dance while he was playing.  I so love live bands like that.  thanks for sharing all about this on here.  I looked at every video.  aloha, irene

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,667 posts

dulcinina:

...Whew, what a workout.

 

I remember 10 years ago when I first started contra dancing.  For the first few months, I'd have to sit out every other dance, it was such an intense workout. I thought I might have a heart attack otherwise!  Nowadays I have no problem dancing every single dance even for like 5 hours at a festival type dance event... yet I'm ten years older.  oma

Ya gotta keep drinking lots of water though.  Dehydration can really sneak up on you when you're dancing, especially if you get hot. hot   I also like to put some electrolytes powder in my BIG cold thermos of water. 




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Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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dulcinina
@dulcinina
2 months ago
61 posts

Contra dancing is very popular here.  Because I was new, the regulars made sure I didn't sit a dance out.  Whew, what a workout.  Sometimes I go just to listen to the music and watch the dancers.  People have so much fun and some dress in old timey outfits.  What I like is that adults dance with kids and no one is left out.  Boy can those kids dance.  Nina

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,667 posts

There are so many nice things about contra dancing.  Since you typically dance with a different person there for every dance, you don't need to come to the dance with a partner.  Since every dance is taught beforehand, you don't need to memorize any dances, ever.  You just learn various short moves (do-si-do, circle left, swing, lines forward and back, allemande,) and once you know about 8 or 10 moves you see that the dances are simply combining the moves in various sequences that are so cool.  Then you can forget the dance you just learned and try a new one, using the same moves.  And the caller helps with verbal prompts through the whole first half of each dance until people can remember what comes next.   :)




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Phroedrick
Phroedrick
@phroedrick
2 months ago
28 posts

Silly me, I had thought Contra dancing was invented by people in DC, during Reagan’s second term, to avoid having to tell the truth about the little gun running operation involving the US, Iran and Nicaragua. So glad I was wrong!

Looked it up and it seems like it would be lots of fun. If ever there’s an event in the SF Bay Area, I’d give it a go.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 months ago
1,667 posts

Just bumping this OLD thread in case there are new members who love contra dancing like I do.

I'm excited because in two weeks there'll be a DOUBLE contra dance at my favorite venue I regularly dance at in Lenox MA.  They'll have a 2 hour dance, then a 1 hour potluck, followed by another 3 hour dance.  Woo-HOOO! 
I'll have to change shoes halfway through, because using the same shoes (even if they're normally comfortable) for more than 4 straight hours of dancing has never been a good idea for me.

I can't wait! Meanwhile, there's a normal 3 hour dance this weekend in a lovely barn 40 minutes from me, and I'll be going to that one. That barn series is usually only during the warm months.

It'll be interesting to wear my new step counting wrist fitness tracker for this upcoming double dance.  surprised




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
1,667 posts

Katie, since we are both upi the Hudson Valley from NYC, I wouldn't be surprised if you and I haven't attended the same contra dance at some point.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Kitty L.
Kitty L.
@kitty-l
5 years ago
3 posts

I love to! Although I personally do prefer square dances. My favorite contra/square dances are the outdoor ones that Jay Ungar & Molly Mason host during the summer at the Ashokan Center. Their music and the scenery there make for something really magical.Smile.gif

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
6 years ago
150 posts

Babs,

Have never heard of Strip the Willow, but the movement looks familiar. Loving bagpipes, I'd love to see our annual Highland Games start this. Here in the Detroit metro area we've the oldest U.S. Highland Games, but all dancing is left to the young lassies and occasional lads in competition. When I get to the next Contra dance I'll have to ask about Strip the Willow. Dare I presume it's the name of the tune?

Of course just saying "We do a lot of Strip the Willow here, though I'm not sure if it's contra-dancing but it is fun" could be subject to misinterpretation if folks just see "strip" and "fun."29.gif

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
6 years ago
150 posts

Our folklore society joins with a contra group to produce an annual dance. Have gone to the past 2 years. This past year I was all set to join the contra group when health problems got in the way. It will come up again this February. I'll have the insanity of being in Sweet Charity in March, but hope this is the year I finally start being a contra dancer and not just a contra newbie visitor. Dance is definitely my favorite exercise and mainly it's been belly dancing in recent years, so this looks like a fun way to add more dance.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
1,667 posts

Great old movie scenes, Patty. That 'Grand March' seems a bit stiff and formal!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
6 years ago
237 posts

I know this can't be contra dancing but was always interested in this and the purpose of it when I saw it,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX99GBCtysI, Fort Apache starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. Then Lt. Col. Thursday danced with Sgt. O'Rourke's wife,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBC1qA-CpT0. Henry Fonda sure could cut a rugGrin.gif

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
6 years ago
237 posts

I think I understand. I hope to have an opportunity to participate in these dances. Nothing like learning by doing. Thanks for the information. It sure looks like funSmile.gif

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
1,667 posts

Patty, in a square dance, four couples form a square and dance with each other through the entire dance. In a contra dance, couples generally form double lines that stretch the entire length of the hall. A large hall with lots of dancers may have as many as 3 to 5 full lines, a smaller dance may have only 1 long line of couples.

Every other couple moves in one direction while dancing with people along the way, and the other half move in the other direction while dancing with couples they encounter along the way. The end result is that each couple winds up dancing with every other couple in the line. When you and your partner eventually get to one end of the line, you turn and start back again, dancing in turn with each couple you meet in the line.

You and your partner mostly stay together as you work your way down the line dancing, but you wind up also dancing with just about everyone else in the line too. I think that makes it particularly fun. You also cover more ground, from one end of the hall to the other, as opposed to staying in one spot like the 4 couples in a square dance do. Both contra dancing and square dancing do incorporate some steps in common, such as do-si-do and swing your partner...

This contra dance video shows how people keep dancing with different other people as they work their way up or down the line: http://youtu.be/joM0I6jEwIU

Here is a very lively and crowded contra dance: http://youtu.be/j9L0dz3qmsc It looks like chaos to a non-dancer, but you can see the well organized double line of couples go 'forward and back' right on time at the 0:42 mark. they know exactly what they are doing! lol

Again, another crowded lively dance: http://youtu.be/KevQxr-saFw At the 0:56 time mark in this one, again at 2:00, you can again see those organized long lines of couples go forward and back. The caller stops calling the moves after a while, as the dancers get the hang of the sequence of moves. Each dance is different. I have danced in that Greenfield MA hall, and I've danced with half the folks in that video at one time or another. That particular band is terrific- they are only two young men and they play everything you hear- electronically looping each part on top of the next as they play on different instruments- live. The tension builds as they add more parts and loop them on top of what they just played a minute before. lots of energy! I do square dances occasionally, but I find contra dances to have a different feel. Hope this adds some info...or maybe just confuses it more for you!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
6 years ago
1,591 posts

Contra dance incorporates round dances, square dances and other partnered folk dances where couples face each other in lines similar to Scottish Country Dancing.

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
6 years ago
237 posts

This is probably a dumb question but here goes. What is the difference between contra dancing and square dancing? I remember doing square dancing in school. From the video it seems to be square dancing. Did I miss something along the way?

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
1,667 posts

I bet there are some other contra dancers here...!

Tomorrow night I'm going as usual to a double-long holiday contra dance in Lenox Mass, with a potluck in the middle between two whole long dances. I usually go to a couple of contra dances per month, and have been doing so for about 4 years now I think.I love the exercise, and I always laugh a great deal- so good for the spirit.

I just now came upon this video someone took from a year ago of the dec 2012 Lenox dance- hadn't seen it before and was surprised to see myself dancing in it!: http://youtu.be/N_EChuv1Aes

I'm wearing a black top, flowered skirt, and am in the right half of the screen. At the very start of the video, I'm dancing with the fellow in the red shirt, but of course partners keep switching throughout the dance.

Anyone else here like to contra dance?




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/25/19 12:38:53AM