The Basics


Contra is a community dance form that's been generating joy for more than two centuries, and is still evolving today. It's as simple as walking at a gently aerobic pace of about 60 strides per minute; the only requisite footwork is a simple forward-and-back step called a "balance." Each dance sequence is made up of figures that rely on different hand holds or eye contact between dancers, and many common figures are repeated from one sequence to the next.

Arrive alone or in a flock of friends! Dancers often choose a new partner for each contra. Join a double line of dancers, taking "hands four" with this partner and a pair of "neighbors," and you're ready to begin. A caller will walk you through the sequence and, once the music starts, prompt the figures several times through. The sequence is repeated every 32 seconds or so, and you dance with new neighbors each time. After perhaps eight minutes, the dance will end, and dancers will line up again.

A typical evening will include about twelve sequences, along with two waltzes and a break to snack and socialize. All you'll need is a water bottle, a pair of smooth-soled, non-street shoes, and if you like, a snack item to share.

Why contra dance?

*Great live music *High energy; great exercise *Meet people *Fun for all ages *Chem-free; clean, healthy atmosphere *Friendly environment

What should I wear?

The hall is usually kept cool because you generate a lot of heat while dancing. Dress in layers so that you can remove items as you get warmer. Many women (and some men!) like to wear full skirts that flare out when twirling. Shoes should be comfortable and easy to move around in.