All About Contra Dances

Are you new to contra dancing?


We’re glad you decided to give it a try! Here are some tips to help you figure it out and have more fun as you learn:

  • Join right in. You will learn faster by dancing than by watching. Experienced dancers are always glad to help new dancers get started.

  • You will make mistakes….but laugh and carry on. We have all been beginners at one time. The less worried you are, the faster you will learn.

  • Don’t wait for someone to ask you to dance. Anyone can ask anyone to dance, Men can ask women or men to dance and likewise women can ask men or other women. Try to choose an experienced dancer and tell that person that you are new to contra dance and that you would like their help.

  • Listen to the caller while the dance is being taught. It is very important that everyone listen to the caller rather than talk to each other during the explanation and walk-through. The caller is happy to do another walk-through if there are still some questions.

  • Changing partners after each dance is the common practice. Thank your partner and quickly look around for another partner. It is alright to politely decline an invitation to dance if you need to have a break and rest.

  • Eye contact is a common practice in contra dance. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it feels friendly and has some other purposes. When you and your partner are swinging, you will minimize dizziness if you look in your partner’s eyes. Also, it helps to look in the eyes of the person you will be dancing with in the next figure to establish a connection.

  • Wear comfortable low-heeled inside shoes. Dress is casual. Many women like to wear a twirly skirt while others choose to wear pants or leggings. We get quite warm while dancing so avoid wearing somethings that will be too hot. Some men bring an extra shirt if they sweat a lot.

  • Bring a drinking bottle of water. Dancing is thirsty work!

  • For people who would like some basic instruction on the internet, the Chatahoochee Country Dancers have a set of 8 lessons. Go to ccd contra dance basics on You Tube.


A Great Article About Contra

From the Globe and Mail, January 7, 2012

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