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:

Nov 19-"The Syncopaths" (Ryan McKasson, Jeff Spero, Ashley Broder, Christa Burch – CA & WA - fiddle, mandolin, piano, bodhran) launch inventive, irresistable musical diversions from their solid Celtic base.    Fav W. Massachusetts caller George Marshall adds his contra mastery!

WED Nov 25- 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 Fukuda - vocals) bring their exciting rhythm-and-blues/funky/soul vibe for a unique contra dance experience! Callers Sherry Nevins & Lindsey Dono keep us in the groove!

Dec 3-Get on board with "The Frequent Flyers" (Laura Light, Jeff Spero, Dave Bartley – VA, CA, WA – fiddle, piano, guitar, mandolin, cajon) for a mile-high dance ride! Caller Eric Black (SF, CA) is our capable pilot.

Dec 10-"Contra Sutra" (Ryan McKasson, Marni Rachmiel, & Dave Bartley on fiddle & viola, flute & sax, guitar, mandolin, cittern, & percussion) takes us to dancing nirvana!   Enlightened caller Michael Karcher leads the way.

Dec 17-Eileen Nicholson (Syracuse, NY), Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland (fiddle, piano, accordion) play strong & spirited, smooth & silky, sweet & savory for a super night of scintillating dancing! Caller Bob Nicholson has earned a reputation for calling wonderful dances.

Dec 24-Have a very merry Klezmer contra with "KlezChaos"17 musicians led by clarinetist Bernice Maslan!   David Kaynor (Montague, MA) calls great dances to brighten up a special winter night.

Dec 31- NO DANCE TONIGHT - Have a Happy New Year!

JAN 7, 2016-Start the New Year with the big exciting sounds of "Gallimaufry" (Brian Lindsay, Alex Sturbaum, Arthur Davis, Ness Smith Savedoff, & Donal Sheets - Ohio & WA - fiddle, guitar, button accordion, piano, banjo, trumpet, cello, guitar, drums, percussion, & vocals)    LauraMe' Smith"s expert calling is always a treat!

Jan 14-Kristian Bugge, Sonnich Lydom, Morten Alfred Høirup (fiddle, accordion, harmonica, guitar) the fabulous Danish trio from 2015's Fiddle Tunes Festival!   Amy Wimmer caller

Jan 21-Ruthie Dornfeld (fiddle) & Anita Anderson (piano), Dave Bartley (guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon); Andrea Nettleton (Atlanta, GA) caller

Jan 28-"Hot Cider" (Evan & Elise Snoey, Kelly Morgan, RuthMabel Boyntz - fiddles, guitar, mandolin, piano, bass)

Feb 4-"Riptide" (Alden Robinson, Glen Loper, Owen Marshall, Mark "Pokey" Hellenberg – Maine & Ohio - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, percussion) Cis Hinkle (Atlanta, GA) caller

Feb 11-"Crow Valley String Band" (Tashi, Kaj, Rachel Bishop & Jim Litch – Orcas Island - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, bass, tenor banjo, & button accordion)   David Millstone (NH) caller

Feb 18-"Buddy System" (Julie Vallimont - piano, synths, accordion, jawharp & Noah VanNorstrand - fiddle, foot percussion, didgeridoo, vocals - Boston & NY)   Lindsey Dono caller

Feb 25-Anita Anderson & Dave Bartley (piano, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon); Alan Winston (SF, CA) caller

Mar 3-"Chassez" (Vivian & Phil Williams & Terry Wergeland - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, accordion, piano)

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! part of the Cascade Promenade weekend


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 11/17/15.