Home > Contra Dancing > Lake City Contra/Old Time Country Dance

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 $10 (students & seniors $8, 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:

Jan 28-Warm up the winter night dancing to the savory music of "Hot Cider" (Evan & Elise Snoey, Kelly Morgan, RuthMabel Boyntz on fiddles, guitar, mandolin, piano, bass)   Gwen Rousseau & Sherry Nevins call sweet dances with just the right amount of spice.

Feb 4-Get happily caught up in this "Riptide" (Alden Robinson, Glen Loper, Owen Marshall, & Mark "Pokey" Hellenberg – Maine & Ohio - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, & percussion) Welcome back ace caller Cis Hinkle (Atlanta, GA)!

Feb 11-"Crow Valley String Band" (Tashi, Kaj, Rachel Bishop & Jim Litch – Orcas Island - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, bass, tenor banjo, & button accordion) is an inspiring family band featuring 2 incredibly talented brothers!   Friendly caller (& CDSS prez) David Millstone (NH) brings us a variety of superb dances.

Feb 18-"Buddy System" (Julie Vallimont - piano, computer & Noah VanNorstrand - fiddle, vocals - Boston & NY) are master innovators of “live-electronic” contras. That means live original music with lots of improvisation, mixed in real time with electronic beats and sounds. We'll set the scene with club lighting! (no flashing lights)   Lindsey Dono is the perfect caller for our adventure!

Feb 25-Sparks will fly when Rodney Miller (recently transplanted from NH), Anita Anderson, & Dave Bartley deftly ignite traditional & original tunes with exciting jazzy & cross-cultural elements (fiddle, piano, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon). Caller Alan Winston (SF, CA) is our fearless guide!

Mar 3-WOW - let's "Chassez" into contra euphoria with delightfully lively music played by Seattle’s venerable Vivian & Phil Williams PLUS Terry Wergeland, Calum MacKinnon, & Laurie Andres on fiddles, guitar, accordion, & piano. Olympia’s multi-talented Jesse Partridge calls graceful and gleeful dances!

Mar 10-11th Annual CONTRA MARATHON - BENEFIT for the NW FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL – 6 bands, 17 callers! 3 hours non-stop fun, no walk-thru's! The music doesn't stop, but dancers are encouraged to jump in or out at the ends of the lines to rest, change partners (or shirts), and rehydrate. This event is part of the Cascade Promenade weekend

Mar 17-"Group du Jour" (David Cahn, Clyde Curley, Jerry Gallaher, Bill Meyer – button accordion, fiddle, banjo, piano); Suzanne Girardot caller

Mar 24-"Ratnip" (Howard Booster & Caroline McCaskey fiddles, Alan Snyder keyboard, & Kristen Falk percussion; Susan Petrick (CA) caller

Mar 31-"Saving Daylight" (Amy Englesberg, Brian Lindsay, & Alex Sturbaum – accordion, fiddle, guitar, piano); Sonya Kaufman (Bellingham) caller

Apr 7-"KGB" (Claude Ginsberg, Dave Bartley, Julie King - fiddle, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon, piano); Cindy Holmes caller

Apr 14-Ruthie Dornfeld & Terry Wergeland (fiddle, accordion & piano); Eric Curl caller

Apr 21-George Paul (Morganton NC), Ryan McKasson & Dave Bartley (piano, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon); Gordy Euler (Portland) caller

Apr 28-"The Charles Street Messengers" (Brandon Hunter – trombone, Brittain Barber – sax, Tyler Hamilton – electric guitar, Dylan Hughes – electric bass, Kyle Kirkpatrick – drums, Jon Goneau – keyboard, Minami Fukuda - vocals); Sherry Nevins caller

May 5-"Kerplunk" (Betsy Alexander, Laurie Andres, Tony Mates - fiddle, accordion, guitar); Craig Wolfe caller

May 12-Audrey Knuth & Larry Unger (Boston) – fiddle & guitar; Woody Lane (Roseburg, OR) caller & foot percussion

May 19-"The Wisenheimers" (Alan Snyder & Dave Goldman – Portland – fiddle & keyboard)


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 01/23/16.