14 Jul

Trendy or Just Hilarious

I can just see it now…Just like Heather, Amber and I go to play Bingo because we think it’s hilarious, one of these days we’re going to do some other elderly activity because we think it’s hilarious and BOOM! We’re hooked!

This is from Ersonal-pay Ace-spay: “Because I find it hilarious” or “Six-Two Acey Deucey”, in which Kate prays that square dancing becomes trendy. As a caller, I especially like:

My super power: Anyone who hears me calling Square Dance calls automatically performs the moves against their will – and women have been known to sprout massively puffy skirts in my presence.

although I can do without the puffy skirts.

So Michelle, who just happens to own a square dance outfit, writes back:

FYI.. this is the leftover from a Halloween costume so don’t go rushing out buying a square dancing dress to copy me. I know it SEEMS like the next logical step in your life but really.. square dancing hasn’t quite made it back…

(DoMeSTiCa: Dear Kate).

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25 May

Nice contra dance quote

After watching a good time being had by all, one has to wonder if perhaps contra dance is a perfect metaphor for a happy life: You can laugh at your own mistakes and when you get pointed in the wrong direction

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, some loving hand will be there to gently point you in the right direction. Most importantly, if you have to go around in circles, you may as well make it a dance.

Round and round we go

29 Apr

Another young caller

Area siblings to attend 46th Buckeye Dance Convention in Dayton:When I first saw the headline, I thought it was an article about some old folks who happen to be brother and sister and share a love of square dancing. But no, this brother and sister pair are still teenagers; the brother graduated from high school in 2004. And even better: he’s learning to call.

Event will feature western squares, round, contra, clogging and folk dancing

You’ve seen them on stage or they’ve been behind the scenes in Richmond Civic Theatre productions.

But the brother-sister duo of Nathaniel and Mary-Beth Arnett is demonstrating another of its talents — square dancing.

Area residents interested in the art form can attend the 46th Buckeye Dance Convention on May 5-6 at the Dayton Convention Center.

In 2002, their grandmother encouraged Nathaniel and Mary-Beth, plus their parents and brother, to take square dance lessons through Hoosier Corners Square Dancing Club in Richmond.

Their interest grew, and Nathaniel incorporated square dancing into his 2004 high school graduation party. That day

, he shared his interest in becoming a caller with the guest caller from Columbus, Ohio.

Nathaniel has since served as an apprentice, traveling to Fairborn, Ohio, each Monday night to teach dance lessons.

Meanwhile, Mary-Beth became acquainted with the National Line Dance Instructors and she began a country western line dance apprenticeship in 2004.

More than 1,000 dancers, callers, cuers and other dance leaders plan to attend the Dayton convention, which will include western squares, round


, country-western/line, contra, clogging and folk.

29 Apr

Another article about contra dancing

Dance attracts diverse crowd: Here’s a contra dance article from Fairbanks, Alaska. The caller is 15 years old!

The whole article, in case the link disappears:

Dance attracts diverse crowd
By MELISSA HART, Staff Writer
While the name “contra dance” could conjure up images of armed militants dancing a jig, you won’t find anything too revolutionary at a Contra Borealis dance, held twice monthly at the Pioneer Park dance hall.
The “contra” is derived from “opposite,” as in the man stands opposite his partner. It’s a way to distinguish it from “proper” dances, where the men stand in one line facing the women in another line, said longtime Contra Borealis president Sue Cole.

The music and dancing styles encompass a range of genres, with mainly Irish, English and French-Canadian influences, she said. Think old English-style in the courtyard scene of “Braveheart.”

Stepping into a contra dance is like setting foot in the past. Not that participants dress up in period clothes to dance. The feeling comes from the warm welcome, reminiscent of when people still participated in civic and social functions.

“Anyone is welcome to show up and the group embraces beginners

,” said Cole.

While the dances are scheduled to start at 8 p.m., the regulars usually trickle in, said member Barbara Braley, with attendance reaching as many as 100 dancers. Beginners should take note that being an early bird can be advantageous, as the first few numbers start with the basics and get progressively more complicated.

The group, which used to be known as University Contra, has been holding dances at the hall on the first Friday and third Saturday from September through May since the start of the millennium, Braley said.

At the April 15 contra dance


, about 30 people gathered early and after a few minutes of greeting and chitchat, the band Celtic Confusion had tuned up and was ready to start.

Gary Newman has been playing music since the early ’90s.

“One thing I enjoy about playing is making people happy. When you play for performance, you get people moving,” he said.

Caller Amy Steiner put on her hands-free headset and brought the dancers into starting places.

The 15-year-old, who described herself as a “contra kid,” grew up going to dances and has been calling entire dances for about a year.

A lot of younger people were in attendance, some of whom were Northstar Ballet dancers and former students of Braley, a retired teacher.

“Kids like it because it’s family-oriented and there’s no drinking or smoking,” Cole said. “I tell people it’s for anyone 8 to 80. Our oldest dancer is over 80. He’s had two hip replacements and is still dancing.”

The rigorous dancing releases endorphins into the brain, Cole said. “That’s why you’re smiling when you dance.”

The movements involve plenty of partner swinging and square dancing-type moves such as “dos-a-do” and “allemande.” It’s important to keep an eye fixed on your partner’s face or shoulder, or else you might feel dizzy from all the swinging, Braley said.

Singles are welcome and need not feel self-conscious, as the dances switch rapidly through all the partners. As the women-to-men ratio can get grossly out of balance, neckties are provided for women who don’t mind pairing up.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said contra first-timer Jessica Jernstrom after a long night of dancing with friend Rebecca Johnson. The two took turns switching gender roles, which could get confusing, they said, but overall it was a fun time.

“My feet hurt, but it was worth it,” Jernstrom said.

29 Apr

Interesting article about contra dance calling

Callers in step at folk dances – The Boston Globe: Article about contra dancing from the caller’s point of view.

Quote from Dan Pearl:

”The dancing I like to present is more nourishing to the soul


,” he said. ”This kind of dancing, for some people, is a tonic. There’s a primal need for interacting with people that maybe we don’t get in our day-to-day lives.”

The article also quotes Sue Rosen and Rick Mohr.

19 Apr

Bay Area Queer Contra Dancing

Sweet write-up in the Bay Guardian for the queer contra dancing in San Francisco:

And then there’s something completely different. Blow Up’s the go-all-in, but also this weekend’s let-it-all-out. Believe it or not, square dancing just got fierce. Seriously. Pimping itself as a “thriving

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, boisterous DIY alternative to the queer bar and circuit scenes” (thank you!), the San Francisco Queer Contra Dance may just be the perfect antidote for today’s style-fatigued clubbers. At the very least, it’s a return to what we loved about going out in the first place: meeting up with like-minded strangers at someplace new (a church, even) to dance new dances to music you can’t hear anywhere else— attitude free. Contra dancing’s a venerable form of folk dancing, all whirling skirts and changing partners and whatnot, and while it may seem goofy — well, look what you’re wearing, hot stuff. Everything’s goofy right now, and in this case it’s also sweet. The monthly event has taken off (even organizer Robert Riley has been shocked by the unbridled turnout), and Saturday marks its second anniversary. Dances will be taught, punch will be imbibed, and new friends will be made. Kilts and Mohawks encouraged. All bored robots welcome.

Hope they get a big crowd!

17 Mar

Dance Festival in Durham

What a great event: Durham Music and Dance Festival! And it would be even greater if there was a little square dancing

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, too.

From this article about the festival:

“I think we are seeing a little bit of a resurgence with this Dancing with the Stars,” Wolf opines. “There was a bubble about five years ago, you know, when they had those Docker commercials, everybody was coming out to swing dance. But I think with this latest thing, more people have been showing up to learn dancing. I just think it’s great.”

Besides the high styles of swing and salsa, there will be a contradance with waltzing and other vintage moves, and the earthy, accessible grooves of zydeco.