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Lake City Contra/Old Time Country Dance

Every Thursday at
Lake City Community Center

12531 - 28th Ave NE

8:00pm till 11:00pm,
Free introductory "dance skills" workshop every week at 7:30pm
Admission $10 (students & seniors $8, kids & first-time contradancers free).

Please respect the health needs of many dancers and come fragrance-free.
For more information call 206-525-0932.

Schedule of bands and callers:

Aug 11-Savor this triple-dip of ultra-cool music from Brandon Vance, Marni Rachmiel, & Terry Wergeland on fiddle, flute, sax, & piano. Playful caller Cindy Holmes deftly scoops a sweet selection of contras!

Aug 18-To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary Dave Bartley & Mary DeFelice Bartley are HOSTING tonight’s dance, with glorious music by Amy Englesberg, Alex Sturbaum, Jesse Partridge, & Cedar Stanistreet (VT) on fiddles, accordions, guitar, & piano, and gracious calling by LauraMe' Smith!

Aug 25-- In honor of Sande Gillette’s retirement from the Seattle Symphony tonight’s dance is HOSTED by Alan Roberts: “Continental Drift” (Eileen Nicholson - Syracuse NY, Eric Anderson, & Terry Wergeland) treats us to sublime & sassy music on fiddle, accordion, & piano, with quick-witted caller Craig Wolfe leading the way!

NOTE: STARTING SEPTEMBER 1st ADMISSION WILL BE ON A SLIDING SCALE FROM $8 - $12; kids & first-time contradancers still free! 

Sept 1-“Au Contraire” (Susan Burke, Jay Finkelstein, & Julie Bennett): fiery, unique Scots/Cape Breton fiddle; surprising, tasteful percussion; and solid rhythm guitar pulling it all together – along with versatile caller Suzanne Girardot. Is this your ordinary contra dance band? Au Contraire!

Sept 8-Brass! Woodwinds! Strings! Percussion! Ya gotta love the sophisticated sounds of Portland’s "The Euphemists" (Paula Hamlin, Kaye Blesener, Jerry Nelson, Alan Snyder, & Dave Goldman on sax, clarinet, trombone, flute, whistle, guitar, fiddle, keyboard, & percussion). Caller Karen Marshall is our cheerful conductor!

Sept 15-Renowned, innovative NH master fiddler Rodney Miller teams up with our own Marni Rachmiel (flute & sax) & Dave Bartley (guitar, mandolin, cittern, cajon) for a high-flying night of stellar dancing! Sweetheart callers Tom & Amy Wimmer are our experienced co-pilots.

Sept 22-"Maivish" (Jaige Trudel, Adam Broome, Cedar Stanistreet – Quebec & VT – fiddles & guitar) “explores the landscape of time-honored melodies and songs, and comes home along new pathways, making music with vibrant energy and delight.” Exuberant caller Dave Eisenstadter (Northampton MA) makes his NW debut!

Sept 29-Seattle faves “The Rhythm Rollers” (Cathie Whitesides, Laurie Andres, & WB Reid on fiddles, guitar, banjo-guitar, accordion, & piano) take us for a jolly good ride, with effervescent caller Emma Anderson at the helm!

Oct 6-Come savor the dynamic fiddling of Jamie Fox - and wish her well for her upcoming move to Denmark! Good friends Sono Hashisaki (fiddle), Terry Weiner (mandolin), & Jay Finkelstein (guitar) round out the band with yummy harmonies and driving rhythm. Caller Jesse Partridge brings a menu full of tasty contras!

Oct 13-“Crow Valley String Band” (Rachel Bishop, Tashi, Kaj, & Jim Litch – Orcas Island – fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass); Mark Matthews (Montana) caller

Oct 20-“Hands 4” (Keith Moe, Fran Tewksbury, Carl Thor, & Rich Goss – Portland - fiddle, mandolin, whistle, flute, piano, percussion); Eric Curl caller

Oct 27-“Notorious” (Eden MacAdam-Somer, Larry Unger, Sam Bartlett, Ralph Gordon, & Mark “Pokey” Hellenberg - MA, IN, W VA, OH - fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, percussion); Will Mentor (VT) caller

Nov 3-“Uncle Sutra”: Ben Schreiber (of “Uncle Farmer”) & Ness Smith-Savedoff (of “Gallimaufry”) with Marni Rachmiel & Dave Bartley (of “Contra Sutra”) on fiddle, sax, flute, guitar, mandolin, & percussion; Tavi Merrill (Tucson AZ) caller

Nov 10-“The Bing Bang Boys”(WB Reid, Greg & Jere Canote – fiddle, guitar, banjo); Susan Michaels (CA) caller

Nov 17-“Great Bear Trio” (Andrew, Noah, & Kim VanNorstrand) + George Marshall caller

WED Nov 23-SPECIAL THANKSGIVING EVE DANCE with "The Charles Street Messengers" (Brandon Hunter - trombone, Brittain Barber - sax, Tyler Hamilton - electric guitar, Dylan Hughes - electric bass, Jon Goneau - keyboard, Kyle Kirkpatrick - drums, & Minami Hughes – vocals);    Sherry Nevins caller

Dec 1-“RiffRaff” (Lindon Toney, River, Jesse Partridge, Alex Sturbaum – Olympia – fiddles, mandolin, guitar)

Dec 8-“Sassafras Stomp” (Johanna Davis & Adam Nordell - Maine - fiddle, guitar, feet); Erik Weberg (Portland, OR) 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 08/20/16.