Most of all, Contra dance is FUN! Thousands of people have been contra dancing for hundreds of years. With a little courage and a sense of adventure, you too can be enjoying this traditional social activity. You do not need to know how to dance or bring a partner. All dances are taught and prompted by a caller with a live band playing lively traditional jigs and reels. We could go into a lot more explanation but someone else has already done an excellent definition of Contra Dance.
You will be part of a living tradition passed on by the experienced dancers helping the newcomers. The dancers, the musicians, and caller aim for an evening of low-pressure, often energetic, camaraderie. Come alone or with others. We suggest changing partners every dance, although dates who attend together and significant others might dance with each other more than once. Sometimes you choose a partner and sometimes you get chosen. It's acceptable for women to ask men to dance.
Contra dancing is an evening of fun, featuring dancing in "sets" of about a dozen couples. You interact with your partner, and everyone else in the set too, as you dance with easy walking steps to energetic music. A caller, working with a group of live musicians, guides new and experienced dancers through a variety of dances.
The caller teaches each dance before it is actually done to the music. This walk through gives everyone an idea of what to expect so the movements can be easily executed. The caller calls the dances as they are being performed to the music, so dancers are able to execute each movement to the music. Once the dancers appear to have mastered a dance, the caller may stop calling, leaving the dancers to enjoy the movement with music alone.
There is usually a workshop for beginners one hour before the dance (check the dance schedule). The workshop will familiarize you with the dance moves and language used by the callers. New dancers who wish to learn quickly and effectively should seek out the more experienced dancers as partners. If you attend with a date, give each other a present by dancing with others for a while. You will then be able to have more fun dancing with each other. It's best to join in the very first dance of the evening with an experienced partner (if possible). Getting started by letting other dancers guide you is much more effective than watching.
Normal, everyday comfortable clothes and shoes. No special costumes are worn. Shorts and t-shirts are fine (even in the winter). Most women prefer to wear a skirt that will swirl. Contra dancing is energetic and you WILL sweat. Many experienced male dancers bring an extra shirt to change into at the break.
Wear comfortable shoes that will stay on your feet. Slides or slip-on sandals are probably not the best choice. Leather soles that will allow your foot to move on the floor easily but are not slippery are easiest on your feet and knees. Soft, non-marking soles are kindest to our wood dance floor.
On a personal note, be fresh but use a light hand with your perfume/after shave (none at all is best). Fragrances are intensified when you get warm, so a little goes a long way.
We are professionals, farmers, factory workers, university students, and just about everything else. As a group we have been dancing in Richmond since 1978. We are a non-profit organization governed by a board of directors made up of elected dancers that meet once a month. Except for the callers and bands, we are all unpaid volunteers. Expenses are paid from admissions to dances and memberships. None of this is possible without volunteers. We don't want a few of the people to do all the work all the time. It's better for a lot of people to do some of the work some of the time, so no one gets burnt out. Please think about helping out once in a while. See the information table at the dances to learn more about how you can help.
more information about TADAMS or contra dance contact Leon at 804-832-3048.
Contact Ted McGarry at 804-218-1238
June 30, 2014