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, or email

The Lake City Contra Dance has been cancelled until further notice in accordance with the efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Washington State has implemented a (very reasonable!) 'Phased Approach' to re-opening. When we reach Phase 3 we will evaluate whether small concerts with "safe distancing" can take place at the Latvian Center. Unfortunately, we expect it will be much longer before dancing together can resume.


The Lake City Contra Dance invites the dance community to join a stay-at-home virtual contra dance series on Thursday nights!

Many of us are really missing contra dancing together during these days of corona-distancing. It may be a long time before we can have real dances, so the best we can offer for now are virtual dances with live-streamed musicians and callers, so we can dance together - but apart.

We are lucky to have fine musicians who are willing and able to play safely for us, with the right equipment for really good-quality digital audio. We're also lucky to have great mentoring from folks from the Bay Area dance groups who have been hosting wonderful waltz events, concerts, and music workshops online.

Stay-at-home dances means that most of us will be either dancing solo or with a partner (some with multiple housemates might be able to have a small set). Of course virtual dancing isn't the same as being in each other's arms, but for many of us, it lifts our spirits and keeps our dancing gyroscopes tuned up.

A new meeting ID and passcode will be posted the weekend before each of our Thursday night virtual contra dances. Everyone keeps their mics muted and unmutes ONLY for speaking during socializing time; during the dancing, everyone's mics except for the musicians and caller stay muted. Links are provided for donations, which all go directly to the musicians, callers, and sound techs. The musicians will also give the names of the tunes, and the keys they are playing in, before each dance for anyone wanting to play along at home (muted, of course). Pass the word on to others you know who would be interested in joining us - the walls of our virtual dance hall are extremely elastic, and we have a large capacity for participants!

Renowned Vermont musicians and creative tunesmiths Pete Sutherland & Oliver Scanlon (of "Pete's Posse") have a rare synergy that transcends generations, and infuses their contra tunes with rich colors from many musical genres. Enjoy them live this Thursday night in your own home! Genial caller Eric Curl (Olympia WA) inspires us to get up and dance!

Socializing starts at 7 pm PDT, music & dancing starts at 7:25, with more socializing till 9 pm (ish).  

Please donate what you can to the musicians, caller, and sound tech: or send a check to Pete's Posse, 2 Pavilion Ave, South Burlington VT 05403.

Here is the login:

Meeting ID: 884 6254 3433
Passcode: Z#ST!2Rs

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Meeting ID: 884 6254 3433
Passcode: 22602074

Schedule of past, current, and upcoming musicians and callers for Lake City Virtual Contra Dances:

May 14-WB Reid & Bonnie Zahnow with caller Michael Karcher (donate to them at

May 21-"Dear Crow" (Brian Lindsay of "Countercurrent" & Penka Jane Culevski of "Try-Works") with caller Noah Grunzweig (Portland) (donate to them at or contact at

May 28-Audrey Knuth & Ben Jaber (CA Bay Area) with caller Isaac Banner (donate to them at OR Venmo @Audrey-Knuth OR by check to 2716 Landis Street, San Diego CA 92104)

June 4-"Countercurrent" (Alex Sturbaum & Brian Lindsay) with caller Susan Michaels (donate to them at or by check to 2126 N 86th St, Seattle, 98103.)

June 11-Sande Gillette, Alan Roberts, & Kern Gillette (of "Monday Night Live") with caller Seth Tepfer (Atlanta GA); (donations to CDSS will be matched via or send a check directly to CDSS, 116 Pleasant St, Suite 345, Easthampton MA 01027-2759)

June 18-"Eloise & Co." (Rachel Bell & Becky Tracy - Brattleboro, VT); Seth Tepfer (Atlanta, GA) caller (donate to them at or or send a check to Rachel Bell, 15 Reynolds Dr. Apt 1, Brattleboro VT 05301)

June 25-Dante & Eros Faulk (of "The Reds") - Olympia WA; Claire Takemori (CA) caller (donate to them at or venmo@DanteFaulk or send a check to Dante Faulk, 3105 Glen Ayre Lane NW, Olympia WA 98502)

July 2-"Pete's Posse" (Pete Sutherland, Oliver Scanlon, & Tristan Henderson - VT); Adam Carlson caller (donate to them at or send a check made out to Pete's Posse, 2 Pavilion Ave, South Burlington VT 05403)

July 9-Ryan McKasson & Jeff Spero (of "The Syncopaths") - WA & CA; Jacqui Grennan (CA) caller (donate to them at or Venmo@Jeffrey-Spero-2 or send a check to: Jeffrey Spero, 4101 Charles Avenue, Culver City, CA 90232)

July 16-Betsy Branch & Mark Douglass; William Watson caller (all Portland, OR); (donate to them at venmo@Betsy-Branch-2 or, or send a check to Betsy Branch, 2237 SE Ash St, Portland OR 97214)

July 23-George Paul & Rob Zisette (NC); Michael Karcher caller (donate to them at or venmo@georgepaulmusic or send a check to George Paul, 2812 Messer Rd, Valdese, NC 28690 New CD is available at!

July 30-"The Whoots" (Shira Kammen & Jim Oakden - SF Bay Area, CA - fiddle & piano +); Eric Black (CA) caller (donate to them at or send a check to Shira Kammen, 5607 Macdonald Avenue, El Cerrito CA 94530

Aug 6-Rich Sobel (of "The Sybaritic String Band") & Janet Rozanski - fiddle & piano (Vancouver BC); Rich Goss (Portland OR) caller (donate to them at or send a check to Rich Sobel, 1027 Gatensbury Rd, Port Moody, BC, Canada V3H 2P3)

Aug 13-Rodney Miller (CA) & friends; Gaye Fifer (Pittsburgh, PA) caller (donate to them at or send a check to Rodney Miller, 189 Argentina Flag Way, Sonoma, CA 95476) This dance was dedicated to the memory of Mark Buettner, avid dancer and faithful volunteer, who passed suddenly on Aug 7. His obituary is at and a video compilation of clips from the Lake City Contra is at

Aug 20-Laurie Andres & WB Reid (of "The Rhythm Rollers") - accordion, guitar, banjo-guitar; Suzanne Girardot caller (donate to them at or, or send a check to WB Reid, 3030 S Bradford St., Seattle WA 98108)

Aug 27-"Gròóvåtrøñ": Grace Hendrickson-Jones flute, Jonathan Werk oboe, Everest Witman & Samuel Royer-Legault tenor banjo & guitar (Montreal); Drew Delaware (Toronto) caller (donate to them at at or send a check to Everest Witman, 11 Blakeslee Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301)

Sept 3-"Peregrine Road" (Rachel Bell & Karen Axelrod - VT - accordion & piano; Diane Silver (NC) caller (donate to them at, or contact Rachel at for the mailing address for checks.

Sept 10-Special benefit dance for Jeremiah McLane: "Pachelbel's Bazooka" (Dave Bartley, Claude Ginsburg, Anita Anderson); Wendy Graham (CO) caller; donate at or by check to McLane Recovery Fund, United Church of Strafford Deacons, PO Box 124, Strafford VT 05072

Sept 17-"Riptide" (Alden Robinson fiddle, Glen Loper mandolin, Owen Marshall guitar - Maine); Janine Smith (MD) caller; donate to them at or send a check to Glen Loper, 49 Brackett St, Apt 2, Portland, ME 04102
Sept 24-"Dear Crow" (Brian Lindsay of "Countercurrent" & Penka Jane Culevski of "Try-Works"); Tarka Ayres (Portland, OR) caller; donate to them at

Oct 1-Pete Sutherland & Oliver Scanlon (of "Pete's Posse") - VT; Eric Curl caller; donate to them at or send a check to Pete's Posse, 2 Pavilion Ave, South Burlington VT 05403.

Oct 8-"Countercurrent" (Alex Sturbaum & Brian Lindsay); Claire Takemori (CA) caller

Oct 15-Cedar Stanistreet & Donal Sheets (of "Cloud 10") - VT & CT; Kelsey Hartman (CA) caller

Oct 22-Glen Loper & Bethany Waickman - Maine (of "Stomp Rocket") on mandolin, banjo, guitar, & piano ; Mary Wesley (VT) caller

Oct 29-Audrey Knuth & Amy Englesberg (of "Free Raisins", "Wake up Robin");   Susan Petrick (CA) caller Halloween costumes encouraged!

Here are some hints for contra dancing with imaginary friends ("ghosts"), especially if you are dancing solo:

In your room, decide where is up the hall (usually where the music is) and across the set.

If you have difficulty following the calls without other people there, relax - you can still do the moves, and not worry where in the imaginary set you end up. Miss a move - so what? You won't throw anyone else off.

You may get dizzy while "swinging". Hold your arms up in imaginary ballroom position, and focus on your hand (in place of a partner's face).

To keep track of which role you are in (if that matters to you), end a (virtual) swing holding the (virtual) hand of the (virtual) person you (virtually) swung with.

If there is a couple on the screen walking through the dance, it is easier if you align yourself with the person dancing the same role as yourself.

You can "pin" another dancer, if you are using a tablet or mobile phone it will feel like you are dancing with them.

Looking forward to seeing you! Virtual hugs, and stay well - Sherry

Continue to take precautions, and check for health updates: "Real" dances, bands and callers will be rescheduled as soon as possible. Please help the musicians by contributing what you can to the "tip jar" on the virtual dances, and purchasing their recordings directly from them or at online sites like cdbaby and band camp. Be safe, stay healthy.

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

From Home to Home - NW Folklife Festival has a collection of recorded performances available from their Memorial Day weekend's virtual festival, including virtual contra dancing! Access the videos here

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


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 09/26/20.