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Lake City Contra/Old Time Country Dance

Every Thursday at
Lake City Community Center

12531 - 28th Ave NE

7:30 pm till 10:30 pm
Free introductory "dance skills" workshop every week at 7:00pm
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.

Schedule of bands and callers:


July 13-Steve Blum-Anderson, Brad Reynolds, & Jay Finkelstein (fiddle, accordion, guitar, piano) are solid veterans of several fine Northwest bands, and know how to keep a dance floor humming!   Valerie Cohen's calling is tuned with her natural sweetness and grace.

July 20-“Cascade Crossing Trio” (Lori Prime, Rich Goss, Sarah Goss – Portland – fiddle, guitar, whistle, oboe) takes us to lofty heights of musical adventure!   Chuck Abell (Rochester NY) brings refreshing dances that bubble & flow.

July 27-Open Band with “COEx”: Amy Englesberg's group “based on Collaboration, Observation, and Experimentation…exploring techniques/skills to make contra dance music interesting, engaging, and exciting!” Caller Gwen Rousseau leads the way with a steady hand and light heart!

Aug 3-NO DANCE TONIGHT – hall is reserved for the Lake City Salmon Fest

Aug 10-The lyrical, pulsating sounds of “The Waxwings" (Jesse Partridge, Alex Sturbaum, & Amy Englesberg – fiddle, accordion, keyboard, & guitar) impel you to defy gravity with every step. Caller Eric Curl’s selection of contras gets you airborne!

Aug 17-“The Alliterations” (Betsy Branch, Sue Songer, Clyde Curley – Portland & Bellingham - fiddles, mandolin, guitar, piano) are brashly beautiful, steadily stupendous, and cheerfully catchy – you gotta love ‘em! Welcome adept Massachusetts caller/composer Ron Blechner to his Seattle debut.

Aug 24-Don’t miss the bold, versatile music of “Audacious” (Audrey Knuth & Larry Unger – Boston - fiddle & guitar)! Vivacious caller Lindsey Dono treats us to super-clear, friendly teaching and superb programming.

Aug 31-WOW – here’s another dynamic duo! Brandon Vance & Terry Wergeland sparkle and shine on fiddle, accordion, & piano. You can count on Isaac Banner to call an energizing, intriguing selection of dances!

Sep 7-“MJBD” (Matti Mero, Jessica Ritts, Bruce Larson, Dale Haley – mandolin, flute, piano, percussion); Tom Wimmer caller

Sep 14-TBA

Sep 21-“Contra Sutra” (Ryan McKasson, Marni Rachmiel, Dave Bartley - fiddle, flute, sax, guitar, cajon); Gaye Fifer (Pittsburgh, PA) caller

Sep 28-“The Wisenheimers” (Alan Snyder & Dave Goldman – Portland – fiddle & piano); Susan Petrick caller

Oct 5-“RiffRaff” (Lindon Toney, Jesse Partridge, River Scheuerel – fiddles & guitar); Gwen Rousseau caller

Oct 12-“TimeZones” (Rex Blazer, Sue Songer, & Todd Silverstein - FL, OR – fiddle, keyboard, bouzouki, sax, whistle); Woody Lane (Roseburg OR) caller

Oct 19-“Ursa Minor” (early Halloween costume dance with “Saving Daylight”: Brian Lindsay, Alex Sturbaum, & Amy Englesberg on fiddle, guitar, accordion, & keyboard); Lindsey Dono caller

Oct 26-“Hotpoint” ( Hilarie Burhans - banjo, Mark Burhans - fiddle, Marlene Shostak – keyboard, Nick Weiland – bass, Mark "Pokey" Hellenberg – percussion); Jacqui Grennan (LA, CA) caller

Nov 2-“InTentCity” (Betsy Richards - fiddle, Graham Richards - guitar, Seth Richards - bass & keyboard, & David Richards - percussion – N. Idaho);

Nov 9-“Potent Brew” (Ben Schreiber, George Paul, & Dave Bartley – fiddle, piano, guitar, mandolin, cajon - CA, VA, Seattle); Abigail Hobart & Marlin Prowell (Bellingham) callers

Nov 16-“Pete’s Posse” (Pete Sutherland, Oliver Scanlon, Tristan Henderson – Vermont - fiddles, viola, mandolin, guitars, banjo, piano, melodica, jaw harp, vocals & foot percussion); George Marshall (MA) 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 07/11/17.