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:

Aug 9- “Polaris” (Jesse Ball, Rose Jackson, Marta Bartholomew, Sam Zakon-Anderson – W MA & Vermont – twin fiddles, accordion, hammer dulcimer, piano, feet): “a contra dance band born & raised in the rich music scene of W. Massachusetts & Vermont…soaking in musical stew since before they could walk...they infuse their music with youthful energy & exuberance that fills the hall.”   Caller Andy Shore (Aptos, CA) makes his Northwest debut!

Aug 16- “Cascade Crossing” (Lori Prime, Rich Goss, Sarah Goss, Carl Thor – Portland – fiddle, guitar, percussion, oboe, whistle, piano) ”fills the dance hall with an exciting palette of musical colors and textures…with touches of baroque, Caribbean, Celtic, Klezmer, traditional, northern, southern, jazz and ragtime.” Welcome back versatile caller Chuck Abell (Rochester, NY)!

Aug 23- “Avalanche” features Betsy Branch’s powerful, fluid fiddling, Bill Tomczek’s uninhibited clarinet & sax, and Chuck Abell’s rock-solid guitar, snowballing into a not-to-be-missed contra event! (Betsy & Bill live in Portland OR, Chuck lives in Rochester NY.) Rich Goss (Portland) brings his fine sense of musicianship to his calling.

Aug 30- Seattle’s own “Sound Crossing” (Marissa Essad, Kris Johansson, Eric Hardee, Jean Geiger, & Cathy Britell) features twin fiddles, hammer dulcimer, guitar & bass; their buoyant music plus Valerie Cohen’s friendly calling will take us to our happy place! Also, we will celebrate August birthdays tonight!

Sept 6- Get fully charged up tonight with “The Electrodes” (Joe Bowbeer, Marcy Kubbs, & Joe Micheals on 5-string electric violin, piano, & guitar). Delightful Canadian caller Maureen C sets the spark!

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- “The Organic Family Band” (Jakob Raitzyk, Rebekah Geller, Michael Raitzyk, Judith Geller - Baltimore, MD – fiddles, guitar, French horn, foot percussion); Woody Lane (Roseburg, OR) caller

Oct 18- “Seattle Collaborative Contra Band” (led by fiddler Sarah Comer); Eric Curl caller

Oct 25- “Countercurrent (Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum – fiddle & guitar); Michael Karcher caller Also, we will celebrate October birthdays tonight!

Nov 1- “La Famille Leger” (Devon & Dejah, Louis & Barbara - fiddle, piano, accordion, guitar); Jesse Partridge caller

Nov 8- “Continental Drift”(Eileen Nicholson-Kalfass – Syracuse NY - Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland – fiddle, piano, accordion); Joe Micheals 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"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 08/06/18.