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.

Sorry that we had to cancel the Lake City Contra Dance last Thursday (Feb 14). The band and caller have been rescheduled.

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:

Feb 21- “The Euphemists” (Paula Hamlin, Kaye Blesener, Jerry Nelson, Alan Snyder, & Dave Goldman – Portland, OR) spice up their solid trad contra repertoire with brassy, swingy riffs on sax, clarinet, trombone, flute, fiddle, guitar, keyboard, & percussion! Ever-delightful Susan Petrick (SF, CA) will be calling all dances as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies") - see linked info

Feb 28- A deep draft of this “Potent Brew” (Seattle’s Brandon Vance & Dave Bartley plus George Paul – NC - on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, piano, & cajon) will lift your spirits sky-high! Tom Wimmer calls oh-so intoxicating contras. Also, we will celebrate February birthdays tonight!

Mar 7- It's the 14th Annual Contra Marathon – Benefit for NW Folklife Festival! 6 great bands, 17 callers, 3 hours non-stop fun - no walk-thru’s! Tonight dancers can jump in or out at both ends of the contra lines to rest, change partners, rehydrate, etc. Musicians are welcome to sit in with the bands (the full program of tunes & dances will be posted at the hall). Part of the Cascade Promenade weekend

Mar 14- Get ready for St Patrick’s Day with Susan Burke’s Irish Session! Eric Curl calls mighty fine contras, + guest caller Jim Belcher treats us to a couple of rousing Irish ceilidhs!

Mar 21- Portland’s “Cascade Crossing” (Lori Prime, Rich Goss, Sarah Goss, & Carl Thor on fiddle, guitar, percussion, oboe, whistle, & piano) “fills the dance hall with an exciting palette of musical colors and textures.” Seattle's savvy caller Michael Karcher will be calling all dances as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies") - see linked info

Mar 28- Savor more of that lovely, lilting, lively Irish music with “Ireland Bridge” (Dale Russ, Anita Anderson, & John Sean on fiddle, piano, concertina, & guitar)! Caller Gwen Rousseau treats us to her tastiest contras. Also, we will celebrate March birthdays tonight!

Apr 4- NO DANCE tonight – come to the SEATTLE LATVIAN CENTER’s giant rummage sale Thursday through Sunday! Thurs & Fri 9:30 am – 7 pm, Sat 9:30 am - 5 pm, Sun noon – 4 pm

Apr 11- “The Dam Beavers” (Ben Schreiber of “Uncle Farmer” & Scotty Leach of “The Retrospectacles” – St Louis & Boston – fiddle & piano); Isaac Banner will be calling all dances as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies") - see linked info

Apr 18- “TimeZones” (Rex Blazer - FL, Sue Songer - OR, & friends - fiddle, piano, & more; Woody Lane (Roseburg, OR) caller

Apr 25- “Chassez” (Vivian Williams, Terry Wergeland, WB Reid – fiddle, piano, accordion, guitar); LauraMe’ Smith caller Also, we will celebrate April birthdays tonight!

May 2- “Contra Quartet” (Jesse Partridge, Steve Cifka, Jay Finkelstein, & Julie Bennett – Olympia – fiddle, cello, guitar, & percussion); Kalia Kliban (SF, CA) will be calling all dances as "larks and ravens" (rather than "gents and ladies") - see linked info

May 9- “Improper” (Sean Bolton, Melissa Coffey, Nick Leininger, Julie Bennett – fiddles, flute, sax, guitar, percussion); Craig Wolfe & Adam Bowman callers

May 16- “The Waxwings” (Jesse Partridge, Alex Sturbaum, Amy Englesberg – fiddle, guitar, accordion, keyboard) + special guest fiddler Jack Bogard (Cincinnati); Lindsey Dono caller

May 23- “Cascade Contraband Remix”: Alex Sturbaum & Brian Lindsay (Seattle), Jesse Partridge, River Scheurell, & Julie Bennett (Olympia), Sam Vogt & Laura Reed (Bellingham), and Jack Bogard (Cincinnati) - fiddles, accordion, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, guitar, piano, percussion; Diane Silver (Atlanta, GA) 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 & 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 02/22/19.