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

Every Thursday Night at the
Seattle Latvian Center

11710 3rd Ave NE

Free introductory workshop at 7:00pm

Dance 7:30 pm till 10:30 pm

Admission $8 - 14, kids & first-time contradancers free


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

The Lake City Contra Dance has been cancelled for March 12, 19, & 26, April 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30 in accordance with the efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. More dances might have to be cancelled as well. Check this webpage for updates, and please pass the word on. Please continue to take precautions, and check for health updates: The bands and callers will be rescheduled as soon as possible. Consider helping the musicians by purchasing their recordings directly from them or at online sites like cdbaby and band camp. Be safe, stay healthy, and be patient - we'll get back to dancing together eventually! Virtual hugs to you all!

Check out the Lake City Contra Dance channel on YouTube! More videos are coming!

The old driveway to the hall (from the intersection of NE 117th St & 3rd Ave NE) is now closed for the Sound Transit Light Rail construction. A large, well-lit parking lot has been built on the north side of the hall; access is now from NE 120th St off 5th Ave NE (see attached map). A one-way single-lane roadway wraps all the way around the building and connects with the new parking lot. There is a ramped, paved, lighted walkway to the north side door.

Contradance role terms have settled in as "LARKS & ROBINS" (as part of the evolution from "gents & ladies" and "larks & ravens"). For more info please read Larks & Ravens - open letter to Lake City Contra Dancers.

Contra Dance - Code of Conduct and Contra Dance - Safety & Consent Agreement

Schedule of bands and callers:

Mar 12-It is with heavy hearts that we have had to CANCEL the Contra Marathon - Benefit for NW Folkife Festival. We had an enthusiastic group of 35 dancers at the Lake City Contra for "Ground Lift" last Thursday (Mar 5), with many expressions of appreciation for our going ahead with it. There was LOTS of hand washing! However, in view of the rapidly increasing number of cases of coronavirus and recommendations of health professionals to limit public contact, this dance is cancelled.

Mar 19-CANCELLED: Olympia’s “Contra Quartet” (Jesse Partridge, Steve Cifka, Jay Finkelstein, & Julie Bennett) with caller Lindsey Dono (see above)

Mar 26-CANCELLED: “Red Crow” (Howie Meltzer, Susan Burke, Joe Micheals, & Terry Wergeland) with caller Adam Carlson

Apr 2-CANCELLED: “Continental Drift” (Eileen Kalfass – Syracuse NY, Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland with Colorado caller Wendy Graham

Apr 9-CANCELLED: “Aleatropes” (Dave Bartley, Marni Rachmiel, Anita Anderson - fiddle, guitar, mandolin, flute, sax, piano); Michael Karcher caller

Apr 16-CANCELLED: “Countercurrent” (Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum - fiddle & guitar) Isaac Banner caller

Apr 23-CANCELLED: Dante & Eros Faulk + Jesse Partridge (Olympia - fiddle, cello, guitar); Amy Wimmer caller

Apr 30-CANCELLED: “The Upshots” (Jenny VanWest, Edith Gawler, Ness Smith-Savedoff - Vermont); Lindsey Dono & Russell Owen callers   

May 7-Dave Bartley, Anita Anderson, Terry Wergeland – fiddle, guitar, mandolin, piano, accordion); Greg Frock (Baltimore) caller “You never know what they’ll do – but you’re sure to enjoy it!”

May 14-“Cedar & the Waxwings” (Cedar Stanistreet, Jesse Partridge, Alex Sturbaum, Amy Englesberg – fiddles, guitar, accordion, keyboard); Yoyo Zhou (CA) caller

May 21-Kick off your NW Folklife weekend - it's “Contra Goes Global III”! Dave Bartley’s pan-latin band features tunes from the Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, etc), and “El Fin del Mundo” (Cathie Whitesides, Hank Bradley, WB Reid) brings music from eastern Europe - all expertly arranged for contra dancing! Frannie Marr (CA) calls with flair and finesse.

May 28-“Countercurrent Plus” (Brian Lindsay, Alex Sturbaum & Chris Miller - fiddle, guitar, banjo & sax) ; Susan Michaels caller

June 4-Kate Powers/David Rivers (fiddle & guitar); Eric Curl caller

June 11-"Les Fabulous Girls Du Ouest Coast"; LauraMe’ Smith caller

June 18-Terry Wergeland, Cathie Whitesides, Laurie Andres (accordion, fiddle, piano); Penelope Weinberger (WA DC) caller


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 "larks & robins" (traditionally "gents & ladies") to refer to the positions of the people in the dance – in each couple,the "Lark"(traditionally "gent")is on the Left & the "Robin"(traditionally "lady") is on the Right. Unlike other social dances, either person in contra dancing can lead or follow depending on the figure. Just remember your own role label, and dance with whoever is coming towards you in line, regardless of their appearance.

∗ 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 their 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.

Last modified 04/03/20.