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Lake City Contra/Old Time Country Dance

Every Thursday at
Lake City Community Center

12531 - 28th Ave NE

8:00pm till 11:00pm,
Free introductory "dance skills" workshop every week at 7:30pm
Admission $8 - 12, kids & first-time contradancers free

Please respect the health needs of many dancers and come fragrance-free.
For more information call 206-525-0932.

Schedule of bands and callers:

NOTE: STARTING SEPTEMBER 1st ADMISSION IS ON A SLIDING SCALE FROM $8 - $12; kids & first-time contradancers still free! 

Oct 13-The Lake City Dance is ON for tonight, unless the forecasted storm winds arrive by 6 pm. The latest I've seen is that the high winds are expected to arrive about 1 am. Of course, if you have to drive a long distance or live in an area that is already experiencing extremely stormy conditions, our first concern is for you to be safe. Use your best judgment, and everyone - drive carefully!
This power trio gracefully lifts our spirits and our feet: Sande Gillette, Brad Reynolds, & Dave Bartley on fiddle, accordion, piano, guitar, mandolin, & cajon! Caller/artist/dance historian Mark Matthews from beautiful Montana chooses invigorating, colorful, and unusual dances.

Oct 20-“Hands 4” (Keith Moe, Fran Tewksbury, Carl Thor, & Rich Goss – Portland - fiddle, mandolin, whistle, flute, piano, percussion) delivers high-energy, mostly original tunes just right for dancing! Eric Curl always calls a mighty fine selection of contras, and up-and-coming caller Isaac Banner adds to the fun!

Oct 27-Thrilling, exhilarating, breathtakingly versatile music from “Notorious” (Eden MacAdam-Somer, Larry Unger, Sam Bartlett, Ralph Gordon, & Mark “Pokey” Hellenberg - MA, IN, W VA, OH - fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, percussion), plus exceptional calling from Will Mentor (VT)don’t miss this!!!

Nov 3-“Uncle Sutra”: Ben Schreiber (of “Uncle Farmer”) & Ness Smith-Savedoff (of “Gallimaufry”) with Marni Rachmiel & Dave Bartley (of “Contra Sutra”) cavort on fiddle, sax, flute, guitar, mandolin, & percussion – making dancers SO happy! Lindsey Dono calls with her inimitable combination of grace, vitality & insight.

Nov 10-“The Bing Bang Boys”(WB Reid, Greg & Jere Canote – fiddles, banjo, guitar, & banjo-guitar) blast in with a rollicking mix of rags, high energy old-time and smooth-as-silk contra tunes. Sassy caller Susan Michaels (CA) keeps us swinging and entertained!

Nov 17-“The Great Bear Trio” (Andrew, Noah, & Kim VanNorstrand – NY & MA - fiddle, guitar, mandolin, piano, foot percussion) + caller George Marshall (MA) are HOT HOT HOT!!! ‘nuf said – let’s dance!

WED Nov 23-SPECIAL THANKSGIVING EVE DANCE: "The Charles Street Messengers" (Brandon Hunter - trombone, Brittain Barber - sax, Tyler Hamilton - electric guitar, Dylan Hughes - electric bass, Jon Goneau - keyboard, Kyle Kirkpatrick - drums, & Minami Hughes – vocals) bring their unique blend of R&B, funk, & soul to the contra world. Caller Sherry Nevins keeps us movin’ & groovin’!

Dec 1-Savor the hearty flavors of Olympia's “RiffRaff”: Lindon Toney & Jesse Partridge with spicy new ingredients Alex Sturbaum & River Scheuerel – fiddles, mandolin, guitar, & accordion - YUM!!! Deft caller Michael Karcher stirs it up.

Dec 8-“Sassafras Stomp” (Johanna Davis & Adam Nordell - Maine - fiddle, guitar, feet); Erik Weberg (Portland, OR) caller

Dec 15-Sande Gillette, David Kaynor (MA), Amy Englesberg, & RuthMabel Boytz - fiddles, guitar, piano, bass; Gwen Rousseau caller

Dec 22-“Contra Quartet” (Jesse Partridge, Steve Cifka, Jay Finkelstein, Julie Bennett - Olympia - fiddle, cello, guitar, percussion);  David Kaynor caller

Dec 29-Rodney Miller, Dave Bartley, & Anita Anderson (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon, piano); Woody Lane (Roseburg, OR) caller & foot percussion

Jan 5, 2017-“KGB” (Claude Ginsburg, Dave Bartley, Julie King - fiddle, concertina, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon, piano); Andrea Nettleton (Atlanta, GA) caller

Jan 12-"Switching Protocols" (Ruth Byers fiddle, John-Michael Seng-Wheeler piano, & Christopher Jacoby accordion & mandolin – Berkeley, CA); Lindsey Dono caller

Jan 19-“Pinehurst Special” (Brad Reynolds, Valerie Cohen, Joe Grote, Amy Englesberg – fiddles, accordion, piano); Eric Curl caller

Jan 26- TBA

Feb 2-“Free Raisins” (Audrey Knuth, Amy Englesberg, Jeff Kaufman); Seth Tepfer (Atlanta GA) caller

Feb 9-“Heliotrope” (Robin Brown, Paul Englesberg, Michael Hobart – Bellingham); Morna Leonard (Montana) caller

Feb 16- TBA

Feb 23-“The Waxwings” (Jesse Partridge, Alex Sturbaum, & Amy Englesberg - fiddle, guitar, accordion, piano)

Mar 2-“Purple Heys” (Sean Bolton - fiddle, Melissa Coffey - whistle, flute, fiddle, sax, Doug Plummer - piano)

Mar 9-The 12th Annual CONTRA MARATHON - Benefit for the NW Folklife Festival - 6 bands, 17 callers!!! 3 hours non-stop fun! (part of the Cascade Promenade weekend

Mar 16-“The Gotham Carnival Duo” (Julia Hartman & Jean Monroe – NYC – fiddle & piano) + Dave Bartley on guitar, mandolin, cittern, & cajon


Contra (or Old-Time Country) Dances feature dynamic LIVE music, energetic dancing, friendly camaraderie, and a strong sense of community. Contra/square dancing is great fun and great exercise - for all ages!

Here are some helpful hints and guidelines:

For Everyone:

∗ Contra dancing is traditional American folk dancing, derived from English and French country dancing. Couples stand in long lines. The caller “walks through” a pattern of figures before each dance begins, and prompts the moves as long as the dancers need it. Each couple dances the sequence with another couple, then progresses along the line to repeat it with new couples.

Anyone can ask anyone to dance - it’s “people’s choice”. It is customary (not mandatory!) to change partners for each dance. When invited to dance, it is ok to politely decline. There is no need to feel guilty or to make excuses. If you are turned down for a dance, take it in stride and seek another partner; don't harass anyone who has repeatedly declined to dance with you.

Callers use the terms"ladies & gents"to refer to therolesof the people in the dance – the "lady" is on the right & "gent" on the left in each couple (unlike other social dances, either person in contra dancing can lead or follow depending on the figure). Dance with whoever is coming towards you in line, regardless of their gender.

∗ You don’t have to worry about footwork; justwalk smoothly, 1 step per beat of music.

Connecting with each other and with the music is the essence of contra dancing. When dancing with joined hands, keep your elbows bent, pull back slightly, just enough to keep an equal counterbalance – keep your fingers relaxed, don't squeeze hands or twist wrists.

Eye contact is another way we connect. Looking at each other will keep you from getting too dizzy – and it’s fun!!! If you're uncomfortable looking deeply into someone's eyes, you can look at his/her forehead, chin, ear…..

∗ In contra dancing, each figure fits with a musical phrase. It’s very satisfying to time each move so you can be ready to start the next in sync with the music, and with the other dancers!

∗ Learn the basics before trying to add fancy flourishes. Be respectful of each other’s needs and preferences: how fast to swing, adding extra twirls, how boldly to flirt…or not…

It's ok to make mistakes – no one is keeping score! People are friendly & everyone helps each other out. If you miss a figure, don’t worry about it - skip it and go on to the next.

Dancing in a way that hurts or disregards the safety or comfort of other dancers is NOT acceptable!!! If someone does something that hurts or makes you uncomfortable, let them know - be clear, direct, and specific – subtle hints are often ineffective. If you feel awkward or unsure about your dancing or social interactions – ASK!! Callers, dance coordinators, and many experienced dancers are willing and able to help.

∗ At the end of each dance remember to thank your partner and the band! Show your appreciation for the talent, skill, and dedication of our fabulous musicians & callers – applaud heartily!!!

For Experienced Dancers:

Please welcome newcomers - ask them to dance, and help them have a fun, satisfying dance experience! Two of you can approach new couples and offer to be their partners, but don't insist that they split up. Trust that their "neighbors" in the line will help.

∗ Give your full attention when the caller is teaching, thereby setting a good example for newcomers (even if you thoroughly know the dance).

∗ Help newer dancers to face the right direction, and keep verbal instructions to an absolute minimum. Point, gesture, tap on the shoulder, use other signals, or call their name. It is hard for newer dancers to listen to the caller, you, other dancers, and the music all at the same time.

Be considerate - refrain from extra twirls & spins, and high-speed swings with less experienced dancers. These are disorienting, slowing the learning process for your partner and for other newcomers for whom you are a role model.

∗ When helping other dancers, relax – be encouraging, and keep it light! It’s all about shared enjoyment, not perfection. Newcomers will learn faster and dance better when they are not anxious about their performance.

Be sociable and resist the urge to “book ahead”. Go to the sidelines & ask those sitting out if they would like to dance.

Please read footprints for a brief history of this dance series.

Webmaster: Matt Fisher (
Last modified 10/14/16.