All of the above describes contra dancing, an American tradition whose roots extend back to pioneer days and beyond.
What is contra dancing? It’s sort of like square dancing, but without the squares. In fact, both forms of social dance were once enjoyed side by side in the barns and Grange Halls of early America.
As in square dancing, there’s a caller who announces each move. And some of those moves are common to both squares and contras: allemande, do-si-do, swing, etc.
Unlike the ornate square dances your parents or grandparents may have attended, however, modern contra dances require no special costumes and little instruction. Simply put on something light and comfortable (you WILL sweat!) and come a half-hour early for an easy lesson on the basic moves.
The music also is different in contra dance. You may hear old-timey melodies that would seem at home in a barn dance, but you could just as easily hear Celtic, French-Canadian, Middle Eastern, swing or even rock tunes. Basically, any music that gets your feet moving can be heard at a contra dance. And it’s all live!
Contra dancing is fun and easy for all ages, so come on out and give it a try! For information on local dances, click on the SCHEDULE link. For more details, visit our “What to Expect at a Contra Dance” page.
Click on the photo for a video about contra dance, courtesy of Doug Plummer.