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.


For directions check out Google maps or this map that shows which streets do and do not go through.

Schedule of bands and callers:

Sept 13- “The Euphemists” (Paula Hamlin, Kaye Blesener, Jerry Nelson, Alan Snyder, Dave Goldman – Portland) serve up an intoxicating cocktail of saxophone, clarinet, trombone, flute, fiddle, guitar, keyboard, & percussion for our dancing pleasure! Deft caller Laurel Thomas (Portland) stirs it up just right.

Sept 20- “Making Time” (Susan Burke, Joe Micheals, & Terry Wergeland on fiddle, accordion, guitar, piano, & bass) takes rich, traditional Celtic tunes to a swingy, improv-infused groove. Amiable caller Amy Wimmer revvs up the fun!

Sept 27- Fly straight to contra heaven with “The Waxwings” (Jesse Partridge, Alex Sturbaum, & Amy Englesberg on fiddle, accordion, guitar, & piano). Gwen Rousseau's sunny calling puts wings on your feet! Also, we will celebrate September birthdays tonight!

Oct 4- Pulses race when “KGB” (Claude Ginsburg, Dave Bartley, & Julie King on fiddle, guitar, mandolin, cittern, concertina, cajon, & piano) takes the stage! Clever caller Craig Wolfe chooses an array of intriguing contras.

Oct 11- Savor the fresh, tasty, wholesome sounds of “The Organic Family Band”, on tour from Baltimore, Maryland: Jakob Raitzyk, Michael Raitzyk, Rebekah Geller, & Judith Geller - fiddles, guitar, French horn, & foot percussion! Zesty caller Woody Lane (Roseburg, OR) brings us a harvest of yummy dances!

Oct 18- The “Seattle Collaborative Contra Band” features 15 fine musicians on fiddles, mandolin, melodeon, guitars, piano, bass, & box drum, headed by fabulous fiddler Sarah Comer! Adept caller Eric Curl leads us to our contra happy place.

Oct 25- Get giddily swept away in the refreshing musical swirls of “Countercurrent" (Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum on fiddle, guitar, & feet). Caller Michael Karcher expertly navigates our journey! Also, we will celebrate October birthdays tonight!

Nov 1- “La Famille Leger” (Devon & Dejah, Louis & Barbara on fiddle, piano, accordion, guitar, & les pieds) brings the ever-inspiring warmth and dynamic energy of Quebec & Acadie to our dance hall! Friendly caller Jesse Partridge treats us to a selection of highly satisfying contras.

Nov 8- “Continental Drift”(Eileen Nicholson-Kalfass – Syracuse NY - Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland – fiddle, piano, accordion); Joe Micheals caller

Nov 15- “Buddy System” (Noah VanNorstrand & Julie Vallimont – Boston & NY - fiddle, mandolin, foot percussion, piano, accordion, jawharp) ; George Marshall (W Mass) caller

WED Nov 21 - Special Thanksgiving Eve Dance - “The Contra Sutra Love Orchestra” (Brandon Vance, Karen Iglitzin, Marni Rachmiel, Dave Bartley, & Julie Bennett – fiddles, flute, sax, guitar, percussion);   Lindsey Dono caller PLUS, the ContraCrafters will be on site with their wares just in time for the holidays!

Nov 22- NO DANCE – Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 29- The "Kate Powers/David Rivers Band" ; LauraMe’ Smith caller Also, we will celebrate November birthdays tonight!

Dec 6- “RiffRaff” (Lindon Toney, Jesse Partridge, River Scheuerel – fiddles & guitar); Isaac Banner caller

Dec 13- “KlezChaos” (Klezmer contra orchestra led by Bernice Maslan); Sherry Nevins caller

Dec 20- David Kaynor (Montague, MA), Sande Gillette, & Amy Englesberg (fiddles & piano); Abigail Hobart caller

Dec 27- “The Rhythm Rollers” (Cathie Whitesides, Laurie Andres, WB Reid – fiddle, accordion, guitar); David Kaynor caller Also, we will celebrate December birthdays tonight!


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 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 09/12/18.