View Full Version : define contra

May-04-2004, 7:23am
whenever i look in the paper, or go to certain folk fests, there is always a contra dance happening somewhere. what defines contra?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

sorry if this seems ignorant, especially as i've been to tons of festivals, just never explored it, and now seeing all these threads from musicians so curious.


May-04-2004, 8:00am
It wasn't too long ago that I was wondering the same thing. The following link should help.
What is Contra Dancing (http://www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis/)

John Flynn
May-04-2004, 8:11am
A contra is an old-time country dance. The name comes from the French word for "country." Many people know contras as "square dances" although that is misleading. "Squares" are just one type of contra. There are also "lines" (not to be confused with Country and Western "line dancing"), "circles," waltzes and clogging and many variations of each. Contras have a caller, who is essentially the master of ceremonies. He teaches the participants each dance he or she is calling, cues the band, calls the dance and ends the dance. Calling is a rich art form in itself. String bands like mine provide music for contras. Recorded music is not acceptable! I played two contras this past weekend. My ears are still ringing and my fingers are sore, but it was a blast!

May-04-2004, 10:54am
thanks guys - the link was helpful ken, and your succinct and easy to understand explanation was helpful as always johhny.

May-04-2004, 1:13pm
Well shoot, I seen them off in the distance for years at festivals and always skipped 'em thinkin' they were square dancin'. Thanks for settin' me straight, may just hafta go join in next time.

May-04-2004, 3:39pm
Contra dances are a great way to particpate in a warm relaxed atmosphere with no pressure. Most Callers are usually very experienced, patient, and know how to make it fun for everyone involved. The people who attend contra dances are incredibly warm, accepting and eager for newcomers to enjoy themselves.

Contra dancing is not about partners, it is about community. And it is this notion of dancing together as a community that makes for such a stress free, fun evening. Anyone who has not tried contra dancing, I would heartily reccomend going, taking both left feet with you, and jump in, because only by jumping in are you able to find out how easy and fun this kind of social dance is.

The other upside as Johnny points out, is the great music that is played. So even if ya go and watch, you usually get the benefit of listening to some good acoustic danceable music and who knows, if you bring your mando, you might even be asked join in http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


May-05-2004, 1:47pm
How informative. And all this time I thought a contra dance was what happened when the contrarrevolucionarios shot their AK-47's at the feet of Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista's.


May-05-2004, 6:55pm
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif Yea them and Ollie good buddies ;)