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.

Contradance role terms are currently trending toward "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.

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

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

Schedule of bands and callers:

NOTE: The dance floor at the Latvian Center was refinished in September. The new finish is beautiful!

Nov 14-“Saving Daylight” (Brian Lindsay, Alex Sturbaum, & Amy Englesberg on fiddle, accordion, mandolin, guitar, & keyboard) brightens up this dim time of year – a sure cure for SAD! Cheerful caller Craig Wolfe lets the sunshine in! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Nov 21-“Faux Paws” (Noah VanNorstrand, Chris Miller, & Owen Morrison on fiddle & feet, sax, banjo, & guitar) brings together musicians from such powerful, exciting bands as “Great Bear Trio”, “Buddy System”, “Wake Up Robin”, “Elixir”, “The Figments”, & “Night Watch”! Renowned caller George Marshall (of “Wild Asparagus”) keeps us from hibernating. Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

WED Nov 27- Thanksgiving Eve!   We’re really thankful for “K-G-Big” (Claude Ginsburg, Dave Bartley, & Julie King + Brandon Vance & Julie Bennett on fiddles, concertina, mandolin, guitar, piano, & percussion) bringing us a cornucopia of sweet and savory musical delights, together with Gwen Rousseau's Rousseau’s tasty calling! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."    The fabulous CONTRACRAFTERS will showing (and selling) their beautiful wares, just in time for the holidays - AND we will celebrate November birthdays tonight!!!

Nov 28- No dance tonight - have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dec 5-“Uncle Farmer” (Ben Schreiber & Michael Sokolovsky – MO & CA - fiddle & guitar) raises an abundant crop of juicy New England, Irish, and original tunes, ripened with their special mix of tradition and improvisation! Caller Susan Petrick delivers fresh and favorite contras! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Dec 12-You don’t have to be Jewish to “tants un zay freylekh!” (dance and be happy!) to the energetic, soulful sounds of “KlezChaos” (23-piece Klezmer contra orchestra led by Bernice Maslan)! Sherry Nevins calls straight from the heart. Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Dec 19-WOW, this duo is dynamic! Kate Powers (fiddle) & David Rivers (guitar) are passionate, playful, precise musicians who can super-power up a dance floor. Friendly caller Jesse Partridge makes everyone feel welcome! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Dec 26-“Improper” (Melissa Coffey, Sean Bolton, Dave Bartley, Julie Bennett – fiddle, sax, flute, guitar, percussion) brings musical fireworks with intriguing melodies, intoxicating harmonies, and irresistible rhythmic drive! Welcome back ace North Carolina caller Eileen Thorsos! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins." Plus, we celebrate December birthdays tonight!

Jan 2, 2020-Start the New Year on a high note with delicious “Hot Cider” (multi-talented musical siblings Evan & Elise Snoey & mama Kelly Morgan - fiddle, mandolin, sax, guitar, & piano). Creative caller Isaac Banner keeps us on our toes! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Jan 9-“RiffRaff” (Lindon Toney, Jesse Partridge, River Schuerell, Alex Sturbaum - fiddles, mandolin, accordion, guitar); LauraMe’ Smith caller Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Jan 16-“Ireland Bridge” (Dale Russ, John Sean, Anita Anderson – fiddle, concertina, guitar, piano); Valerie Cohen caller Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Jan 23-“Sound Crossing” (Marissa Essad – fiddle, Kris Johansson – fiddle, Eric Hardee - hammered dulcimer, Jean Geiger – guitar, Cathy Britell – bass); Joe Micheals caller    Role terms tonight will be "gents & ladies".

Jan 30-“The Try-Works” (Penka Jane Culevski & Alex Sturbaum – fiddle & guitar); Richard Barnes caller Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."


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 & robins"to refer to thepositionsof the people in the dance – the "gent" or "lark" is on the left & the "lady" or "robin" 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.

Last modified 11/14/19.