In my quest to try at least one new thing every month–last night I ventured down the road to attend my first Contra dance. Honestly, I had no idea what I was in for. I had watched a few videos on YouTube before leaving home. The closest thing I could compare it to were those gym class square dance lessons in elementary school.
The venue was great, a big dance floor and a big surprise for me. There was a live band there. The band consisted of two guitar players, a mandolin and a fiddle player. They were tuning up as I arrived. No smoke filled bar, no alcohol–the drinks were supplied by two large coolers one with lemonade, the other with ice water. Admission was $8 at the door for non-contra members and I was handed a card for free admission to the next dance. I found a seat in the balcony area and watched the band tuning up and did some people watching as the people began to filter in.
It as obvious I was a newbie in my jeans and short sleeved top. Almost all of the women had on long flowing skirts. I was beginning to question my bravery at this point, these dancers were hard core serious about their dancing.
About 15 minutes before the dance started there was a short beginner dance lesson. One of the gentleman there for the night took my hand and asked me to dance. One thing I quickly learned about Contra dancing—they love to spin women around. I thought I was struggling with the spinning in my country dance classes, but this was spinning on steroids. I did my best to not do a wild twista spin across the room. The key was looking at your partner and smiling up in there face to keep from getting dizzy. It worked for me, and once I learned that trick the dizziness (at least on the dance floor) ended.
For each dance, they would go over the steps for the new people before we started. During the dance the caller would of course call out instructions. Men were encouraged to change dance partners every dance so you are able to dance with a variety of people. Also during the dance, you change partners until you dance with every person in the dance line. With that in mind, I danced with every man in the place.
…and boy the place was filled with men. I rarely lacked for a partner, and everyone was nice, friendly and most of all patient. The dance moves were easily learned and most of the people there had been doing this type of dancing for years.
I’ll go back. It was a fun dance option and I feel as if I had a total workout at the gym following that class last night. It’s fun to open up to new ideas, new kinds of dancing. Looking in from the outside, this might look a bit hokey, but being there in the middle of the action, it was lots of fun. I didn’t take any photos last night, I was too busy dancing! This image is from the Wikipedia site.