Most important - RELAX
- it's just a dance. We are here to have fun.
Here are some hints to start. If you
make a mistake, laugh and catch up to the next move.
- adapted from information created by Gary Shapiro - to
explore further use the More about Contra Dancing link
- New dancers should seek out experienced dancers
as partners, especially for their first several
dances. If you brought a date, give each other a present
by dancing with others for a while to learn the basics
from experienced partners. You'll then be able to have
more fun dancing with each other. Please read this
- Asking others to dance. In contra dance, we
usually change partners after each dance, even if we
came with a partner or spouse. Experienced dancers
are happy to dance with new dancers and
are pleased if you ask them to dance. Just walk up
and say, “Would you like to dance?” If they say
no, it likely means they have said yes to someone else
- Dance mentorship. Contra dances depend on
everyone moving together. Experienced dancers will
help you find your spot by calling out moves, pointing,
or even giving a gentle push. This isn't
criticism; they're helping you. Smile and go with
- The pre-dance lesson. Feel free to
attend the introduction multiple times. You'll
learn new things each time, especially after
experiencing a few dances.
- Contra dancers make eye contact whenever possible.
This builds connection and reduces dizziness, especially
during the swing. However, some people are uncomfortable
with it, especially at first. Eye contact is optional,
but do give it a try. Eye contact (and even flirting,
etc.) during a dance means nothing more than two people
enjoying a short time together. Remember: what starts on
the dance floor stays on the dance floor.
- The Swing. Contra dance's flagship move is a
spin in ballroom position. Develop a good swing
and people will want to dance with you!
Experienced dancers are eager to give you pointers, so
ask, and try them when they're given whether they're
requested or not.
- Hand position.
hand goes on the lady's back on or just below the
bra strap, placed to support her weight in the
spin. The woman’s left arm goes on top of his
arm and around his shoulder with the hand wherever
it lands. If she can reach behind his
shoulder, she should support the spin as well, but
don't stretch to reach if you are much smaller than
he is. The other hands touch lightly.
Their arms should be tensed, with elbow bent,
creating a “frame.”
- The spin.
the frame to your left, placing your right foot down
on every odd beat, parallel to your partner's.
Left feet can walk or “buzz step” (ask for a
demo). Do not bounce! That's for (bad)
movies. Rotate as smoothly as you can, like a
merry-go-round. Leaning left asks to go faster,
right asks to decelerate. If you easily get dizzy,
say, “spin slowly” when you start.
- Giving weight.
body straight and lean out to give your partner a
feeling of connectedness. Your arms hold you
together; if you let go you should fly apart (so
don't!). It's a tension between the two people
- you can feel that there's someone there.
Look at each other! If they're smiling, you're
doing fine. If not, ask.
- Balance and
swing. Take hands, two steps forward,
two steps backward, swing.
"A contra dance is like an amusement park ride we make
for ourselves." --Unknown -