In November 1974 a great country dance revival began in Seattle. Sandy Bradley and The Gypsy Gyppo String Band (Warren Argo, Jack Link, and Jerry Mitchell), started it with participatory old-time square dancing at a tavern in Pioneer Square.
The dance moved to the G-Note Tavern in Greenwood in 1977. In 1979 contra dancing was introduced, which got a big boost from bands and callers touring from New England. After several years contras surpassed squares in popularity.
In 1985 the dance moved to the Ballard Eagles Hall; weekly open band dances were also held at the New Melody Tavern (which became the Tractor Tavern). The dance moved to the Lake City Community Center in 1998, and to the Seattle Latvian Center in January 2018. Over the years many other contra dances popped up in Seattle as well as in surrounding communities such as Olympia, Bellingham, and Tacoma.
In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic caused cancellation of group in-person dances. In mid-May the Lake City Virtual Contra Dance was launched, with musicians, callers, sound techs, and participants coming together online (without geographical constraints).
Even though the prevailing tastes changed from squares to contras, the spirit of the traditional country dance remains: everyone is always welcome, there’s always live music, and the joy, camraderie, and sense of community is strong!