What on earth is a contra dance?

I’m glad you asked!

Contra dancing has a caller who tells everyone what to do, a group of live musicians who provide toe-tapping music, and a set of new and experienced dancers who mix together to perform a variety of dances.

In contra dance, a dancer and his or her partner dance a series of moves with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same moves with another couple, and so on. The moves are similar to those of old-time square dancing. The moves are combined in different ways for each different dance. Sounds easy, right?

It’s all much simpler to see:

Each dance lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, and the dance evening runs from 7:30 to about 10:00 or 10:30. There is a short intermission in the middle, where devoted dancers dance waltzes or polkas, while everyone else enjoys the potluck of snacks which appear.

At Lake Murray Contra, we provide a drug-and-alcohol-free environment for people of all ages to enjoy a night of dancing, fellowship, and even some exercise! There are contra halls and contra dance societies all across the Americas, and in the United Kingdom. Check out some of the ones we have danced at ourselves:

http://www.harvestmoonfolk.org – River Falls Lodge in the mountains north of Greenville. Hosting approximately 200 contra dancers nearly every weekend, one can call it the mecca of contra dancing.
http://www.ecmm.biz/contra/ – Charleston Folk has some really good dances. Check out Bug Stomp in April!
http://contracola.blogspot.com/ – Columbia Traditional Music and Dance. Our nearest neighbors, they’re located near Finlay Park in downtown Columbia.

Lastly, here are some websites you may find interesting.

This site links to many local SC dances. There’s a page for each state; don’t forget about North Carolina and Georgia!

Gary Shapiro keeps up a fun page with basic contra dance information, links, and dance primers.

How could we let you go without a Wikipedia page! A straightforward, in-depth look at dance culture, how the dance works, and the nitty-gritty of music and calling.