Last night I went contra dancing for the first time ever. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s essentially old English/Gaelic country dancing, and has nothing to do with the Contras.

Being a forebear of square dancing, it bears many similarities to that American form:

  • you have a partner who is usually, though not necessarily, of the opposite sex
  • dances are done in lines of 2, and you end up moving along the line, interacting with many other dancers besides your partner
  • The music is similar (reels, jigs, etc.)
  • There is a caller who goes over the steps for each dance, and then calls out the instructions for several repetitions

So, I had square danced before, and thus knew a little of what to expect. However, I only square danced once, and that was in sixth grade (22 years ago!), so I was a little out of practice. I did okay, though, especially because this is a social interaction where the experienced folks are very helpful to the newbies (kind of the opposite of the internet). It was great fun, and definitely something I would like to do again. I’m a little sorry I didn’t get around to trying it sooner, as I’ve known of contra dance for years.

The place we went was the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield, MA. It was a very amiable and adaptable bunch, because, soon after we arrived, the power went out. The caller had the crowd be extra quiet, so the musicians could be heard without amplification, and two more contra dances (plus a waltzing interlude) happened by the emergency battery lights (and a few flashlights people had).

Kind of a big dance weekend, as we also went to 2 dance performances.