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.

Help keep us all healthy - remember to WASH YOUR HANDS frequently, especially in between dancing and eating.

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 settling 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.

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:

Jan 16-“Ireland Bridge” (Dale Russ, John Sean, & Anita Anderson on fiddle, concertina, guitar, & piano) treats us to lyrical music with a powerful drive, perfect for contra dancing! Caller Valerie Cohen chooses dances with just the right flow. Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Jan 23-Step lively to the fun, perky beats of “Sound Crossing” (Marissa Essad – fiddle, Kris Johansson – fiddle, Eric Hardee - hammered dulcimer, Jean Geiger – guitar, Cathy Britell – bass)! Joe Micheals calls a variety of dances tonight using traditional “gents & ladies” role terms.

Jan 30-This exciting young duo will really light your fire: “The Try-Works” (Penka Jane Culevski & Alex Sturbaum on fiddle & guitar). Able caller Richard Barnes fans the flames! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins." Plus, we celebrate January birthdays tonight!

Feb 6-A dose of this celebrated, potent “Elixir” (Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Anna Patton, Jesse Readlynn, & Owen Morrison on fiddle, clarinet, trumpet, guitar, vocals & foot percussion) is a sure cure for any midwinter blues! Master caller Nils Fredland spikes the mix, and adds mighty trombone licks as well. Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Feb 13-The musical depth, passion, & mastery of “Chassez” (Vivian Williams, Terry Wergeland, & WB Reid on fiddle, piano, accordion, guitar, & banjo-guitar) carries us to our happy places! Come give a big Pacific NW welcome to warm, playful Vermont caller (and dance composer) Luke Donforth! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins."

Feb 20-More strings + horns fun fun fun with “The Euphemists”(Norman Farrell, Kaye Blesener, Jerry Nelson, Alan Snyder, Dave Goldman – Portland – sax, clarinet, trombone, flute, fiddle, guitar, keyboard, percussion)! Bright new callers Amy Spens & Phae Vaughn tag team (using role terms "larks and robins") to double our dancing pleasure!

Feb 27-“Hands4” (Keith Moe, Fran Tewksbury, Carl Thor, Rich Goss – Portland – fiddle, mandolin, flute, piano, percussion) brings their unique mix of original, contemporary and traditional tunes to inspire the dancers! Suzanne Girardot deftly calls a mix of frisky and silky dances, using role terms "larks and robins". Plus, we celebrate February birthdays tonight!

Mar 5-“Ground Lift” presents a special Electro Contra with ace Seattle fiddler Brian Lindsay & Oakland, CA rhythm player/ producer Christopher Jacoby creatively pushing contradance boundaries as they blend acoustic fiddle tunes with live electronic beats & samples! Caller Noah Grunzwieg (Portland) gets us airborne, using role terms "larks and robins". Party on!!!!

Mar 12-The 15th Annual Contra Marathon - Benefit for NW Folklife Festival! 6 bands, 17 callers - no walk-thru's! The music doesn't stop; dancers are encouraged to jump in or out at both ends of the lines to rest, rehydrate, change partners & shirts, etc. "Dance Buddies" will be available to lend their helping hands.   Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins." Part of the Cascade Promenade weekend

Mar 19-“Contra Quartet” (Jesse Partridge, Steve Cifka, Jay Finkelstein, Julie Bennett – Olympia – fiddle, cello, guitar, percussion); Lindsey Dono caller

Mar 26-“Singularity” (Howie Meltzer, Susan Burke, Joe Micheals, Terry Wergeland – fiddles, guitar, piano, accordion); Adam Carlson caller We celebrate March birthdays tonight!

Apr 2-“Continental Drift” (Eileen Kalfass, Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland - fiddle, piano, accordion); Wendy Graham (CO) caller

Apr 9-Eileen Kalfass, Dave Bartley, Marni Rachmiel, Anita Anderson (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, flute, sax, piano); Michael Karcher caller

Apr 16-“Countercurrent” (Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum - fiddle & guitar) Isaac Banner caller

Apr 23-Dante & Eros Faulk + Jesse Partridge (Olympia - fiddle, cello, guitar); Amy Wimmer 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"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 01/13/20.