Home > Contra Dancing > Lake City Contra/Old Time Country Dance

Lake City Contra Dance

Every Thursday Night at the
Seattle Latvian Center

11710 3rd Ave NE

Free introductory "dance skills" 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.

We are excited to announce A LOVELY NEW LOCATION FOR THE LAKE CITY CONTRA DANCE!!! Spread the word!

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

Schedule of bands and callers:

Feb 15-Seattle’s Phil Katz and Vivian Williams have been steadfast, skilled purveyors of traditional music and dance in the Puget Sound region for many decades, contributing much to the growth of our vibrant contra community. Enjoy their talents here with their band “Small Pleasures” (Phil, Vivian, Joe Micheals, & Shelly Jenkins on melodeons, fiddle, guitar, & piano). Eric Curl’s steady, friendly calling is always a pleasure!

Feb 22-Tonight's dance is sponsored by Mike Richardson & Chris Caldwell in honor of their 42nd Wedding Anniversary! “KGB” (Claude Ginsburg, Dave Bartley, & Julie King on fiddle, concertina, guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon, & piano) knows all kinds of secrets of great dance music, and dynamic caller Susan Michaels leads the way. ALSO, we will be celebrating February birthdays tonight!

Mar 1-“Contra Quartet” (Jesse Partridge, Steve Cifka, Jay Finkelstein, & Julie Bennett – Olympia) features gorgeous fiddle/cello harmonies, tasteful & playful percussion, and solid guitar backup. Craig Wolfe calls interesting dances with clarity and zest!

Mar 8-13th Annual CONTRA MARATHON – Benefit for NW Folklife Festival! 6 bands, 17 callers – 3 hours non-stop fun, no walk thru’s! Part of the Cascade Promenade weekend Though the music doesn’t stop, dancers can jump in and out at both ends of the lines to rehydrate, change partners (& shirts!), and rest. It’s “open band” all evening - musicians are welcome to sit in; the entire program (with tunes & keys) will be posted at the hall. New dancers are encouraged to attend the free intro workshop at 7:00 pm, and experienced dancers will be offering their “helping hands” throughout the evening. Dance 7:30 – 10:30 pm; $8-12 (kids & first-time contradancers free), additional donations for NW Folklife are much appreciated!

Mar 15-Two plus one = tons of fun with “Countercurrent Three”! Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum’s fabulous fiddle/guitar duo adds “Gallimaufry” pal Donal Sheets on cello. Enjoy Sonya Kaufman’s delightful calling, too!

Mar 22-Toby Hanson, Karen Iglitzin, & Dave Bartley (accordion, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, cajon, piano) masterfully weave together many musical genres for a dynamic evening of musical merriment! (Listen for a tune specially honoring the Seattle Latvian community.) Joe Micheals brings great dances, and his sonorous voice!

Mar 29-Cast off for a contra pleasure cruise on “Continental Drift” (Eileen Nicholson – Syracuse NY - Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland on fiddle, piano, & accordion) – you’ll be glad you did! Cheerful caller Gwen Rousseau skillfully steers the ship.

Apr 5-Bringing their ultra-cool contra groove is Seattle’s “Charles Street Messengers” (Brandon Hunter, Brittain Barber, Tyler Hamilton, Jon Goneau, Dylan & Minami Hughes - R&B /funk /blues flavored original dance tunes on trombone, sax, guitar, keyboard, bass, drums, & vocals). Callers Sherry Nevins & Isaac Banner get you in the mood to strut & sway the night away!

Apr 12-“Improper” (Melissa Coffey, Sean Bolton, Nick Leininger - fiddles, flute, sax, guitar); Susan Petrick (SF, CA) caller


Apr 26-Ruthie Dornfeld, Larry Unger, & Jeremiah McLane (Boston & Vermont – fiddle, guitar, accordion, piano); Lindsey Dono caller

May 3-Brandon Vance, Marni Rachmiel, & Terry Wergeland (fiddle, sax, flute, piano); Ron Buchanan (Pittsburgh PA) caller

May 10-“Au Contraire” (Susan Burke, Jay Finkelstein, Chuck Pliske, Julie Bennett - fiddle, guitar, concertina, piano, percussion); Suzanne Girardot caller

May 17-“Contra Sutra” (Ryan McKasson, Dave Bartley, & Marni Rachmiel - fiddle, guitar, flute, sax); Jesse Partridge 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 his/her 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 02/15/18.