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 - 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.

The LAKE CITY CONTRA DANCE moved to the SEATTLE LATVIAN CENTER in January 2018: for directions check out Google maps or this map that shows which streets do and do not go through.

LARKS & RAVENS - Open letter to Lake City Contra Dancers - please read!

Schedule of bands and callers:

May 23- Start your NW FOLKLIFE weekend with glorious musical fireworks from “Cascade Contraband Remix”: Alex Sturbaum, Brian Lindsay, Evan Snoey, & Evan Stewart (Seattle), Jesse Partridge, River Scheurell, & Julie Bennett (Olympia), and Sam Vogt & Laura Reed (Bellingham) - PLUS David Kaynor (MA) - fiddles, accordion, mandolin, octave mandolin, banjo, guitar, sax, trombone, piano, & percussion! Special guest caller Diane Silver from Asheville, NC) will call "larks and ravens" (instead of "gents and ladies") - see linked info NOTE: Diane will call "larks & robins" tonight.

May 30- The fun is in full bloom with the delightful music of "Heliotrope" (Robin Brown, Michael Hobart, & Paul Englesberg - Bellingham – fiddle, guitar, concertina, flutes)! Caller Valerie Cohen brings us a big bouquet of beautiful contras. Also, we will celebrate May birthdays tonight!

June 6- “Phoenix” (Corey Walters, Nora Smith, Christopher Jacoby - MA & CA - flute, mandolin, fiddle, accordion, guitar, piano) “builds innovative and exciting music around a traditional framework” for supreme dancing pleasure!   Jesse Partridge calls colorful dances with warmth and good cheer.

June 13- The Lake City Contra continues the 2019 NW Folklife theme of “youth rising” with 2 dynamic teen bands “The Reds” (brothers Dante & Eros Faulk and River & Sage Scheuerell – Olympia – fiddles, mandolin, bouzouki, cello, bodhran, cajon, guitar), & “The Mossbacks” (Carter Schafer, Oliver Knapfus, & Sam Zito – fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, piano, bass)! Sherry Nevins and guest callers Phae Vaughn & Martha Pidcock call "larks and ravens" (instead of "gents and ladies") - see linked info

June 20-Ryan McKasson & Jeff Spero (of “The Syncopaths”)WA & CA – this powerful fiddle-piano duo is a treat for your ears and your dancing feet! Andrea Nettleton (Atlanta, GA) calls a great selection of dances using "larks and ravens" (instead of "gents and ladies") - see linked info

June 27-Welcome back the 30-talented-fingers and 3 warm hearts of “Continental Drift” (Eileen Nicholson-Kalfass from Syracuse NY, Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland on fiddle, piano, & accordion)! Michael Karcher & Richard Barnes call intriguing and soulful contras. Also, we will celebrate June birthdays tonight!

July 4-NO DANCE tonight – hall is not available

July 11-Cedar Stanistreet (VT) & Jesse Ball (MA) on fiddle, guitar, & foot percussion); Kelsey Hartman (CA) will call "larks and ravens" (instead of "gents and ladies") - see linked info

July 18-“Seattle Collaborative Contra Band” (16 fine musicians led by Sarah Comer); Joe Micheals caller

July 25-Kate Powers, Marni Rachmiel, & Anita Anderson (fiddle, flute, sax, piano); Noah Grunzweig (Portland) will call "larks and ravens" (instead of "gents and ladies") - see linked info Also, we will celebrate June birthdays tonight!

Aug 1-“Countercurrent” (Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum – fiddle, guitar, feet); Susan Michaels caller

Aug 8-“Wink at the Moon” (Sarah Comer, Stuart Williams, Terry Wergeland – fiddles, guitar, piano);
caller TBA

Aug 15-Ben Schreiber (St. Louis) & Alex Sturbaum (fiddle & guitar); Isaac Banner will call larks and ravens" (instead of "gents and ladies") - see linked info


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"gents & ladies" (or "larks & ravens")to refer to thepositionsof the people in the dance – the "gent" (or lark) is on the left & "lady" (or raven) is on the right 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 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.

Webmaster: Matt Fisher (
Last modified 05/22/19.