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.

LARKS & RAVENS - Open letter to Lake City Contra Dancers - please read!

Schedule of bands and callers:

Nov 15- “Buddy System” (Noah VanNorstrand & Julie Vallimont – Boston & NY - fiddle, mandolin, foot percussion, piano, accordion, jawharp) plays “a perfect combination of recognizably traditional and non-traditional with great rhythm and drive.” George Marshall (W Mass) adds his masterful calling to the duo’s special synergy!

WED Nov 21- Get ready for maximum fun at this very special Thanksgiving Eve Dance featuring “The Contra Sutra Love Orchestra” (Brandon Vance, Karen Iglitzin, Marni Rachmiel, Dave Bartley, & Julie Bennett on fiddles, flute, sax, guitar, & percussion! Ace caller Lindsey Dono will be calling all dances tonight as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies"- please read the linked info). PLUS, the ContraCrafters will be on site with their wares just in time for the holidays!

Nov 22- NO DANCE – Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 29- The "Kate Powers/David Rivers Band" (fiddle, guitar, & more – Olympic Peninsula) brings a storm of mighty talent from across the water!   Inimitable caller LauraMe’ Smith navigates with her ever-reliable dance compass and unwavering wit. Also, we will celebrate November birthdays tonight!

Dec 6- “RiffRaff” (Lindon Toney, Jesse Partridge, & River Scheuerel - Olympia - plus Alex Sturbaum!) cavorts merrily on fiddles, accordion & guitar for our dancing pleasure! Savvy caller Isaac Banner Banner ensures a helluva good time for all.

Dec 13- “KlezChaos” (Seattle’s 16-piece Klezmer orchestra) plays passionate Eastern European melodies infused with American jazz rhythms, supremely adapted for contra dancing by bandleader/clarinetist/dancer Bernice Maslan. Lively caller Sherry Nevins - and new caller Ariel Zlatkovski - call dances that fit just right!

Dec 20- Brighten the long winter night with the luminous fiddle harmonies of David Kaynor (Montague, MA) and Sande Gillette, along with Amy Englesberg’s sparkling keyboard riffs. Abigail Hobart’s calling will certainly cheer you up!

Dec 27- This iconic Seattle band “The Rhythm Rollers” (Cathie Whitesides, Laurie Andres, & WB Reid on fiddle, accordion, & guitar) takes us on a delightful ride through contraland!   Perennial fav David Kaynor (Montague, MA) will be calling all dances tonight as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies" - see linked info)    Also, we will celebrate December birthdays tonight!

Jan 3, 2019- Warm up the New Year with the lively flavors of the “Hot Cider String Band” (Elise & Evan Snoey, and Kelly Morgan on fiddles, mandolin, piano & guitar). Caller Gwen Rousseau serves up sweet & spicy dances!

Jan 10- “The Pep Tides” (Clyde Curley on fiddle, Carol Noyes on banjo, Cary Lung on mandolin, & Kate Lichtenstein on guitar); Susan Michaels caller

Jan 17- “The Brothers Lindsay” (Brian & Colin on fiddles & concertina, Alex Sturbaum on guitar); Suzanne Girardot caller

Jan 24- “The Electrodes” (Joe Bowbeer, Joe Micheals, & Marcy Kubbs – 5-string electric violin, guitar, piano); John Gallagher caller

Jan 31- “SuperTrad” (Dave Langford, Sam Bartlett, Owen Morrison, Eric Shedler); Cis Hinkle (Atlanta GA) will be calling all dances tonight as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies") - see linked info   Also, we will celebrate December birthdays tonight - PLUS, Petticoat Junction will be on site with a selection of wonderful dance shoes, dresses, skirts, and shirts for sale!

Feb 7- “The Heck Raisers” (Jenny VanWest & Ness Smith-Savedoff from Maine, + Alex Sturbaum – fiddle, guitar, accordion, percussion)

Feb 14-Valentine’s Day“Heliotrope” (Robin Brown, Michael Hobart, Paul Englesberg - Bellingham – fiddle, guitar, concertina, flute)

Feb 21- “The Euphemists” (Paula Hamlin, Kaye Blesener, Jerry Nelson, Alan Snyder, Dave Goldman – Portland, OR - sax, clarinet, trombone, flute, fiddle, guitar, keyboard, percussion); Susan Petrick (SF, CA) will be calling all dances tonight as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies") - see linked info

Feb 28- “Potent Brew” (Brandon Vance, Dave Bartley, & George Paul – fiddle, mandolin, guitar, piano, cajon)   Also, we will celebrate February birthdays tonight!

Mar 7- 14th 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


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 & ravens")to refer to thepositionsof the people in the dance – the "gent" (or lark) is on the left & "lady" (or raven) 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.

Webmaster: Matt Fisher (
Last modified 11/26/18.