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:

July 11-Cedar Stanistreet (VT) & Jesse Ball (VT & MA - fiddle & guitar, foot percussion) bring musical appetizers, entrees & desserts flavored with seasonings from their many excellent contra bands! Lively caller Kelsey Hartman (CA) serves it up with her special flair. Role terms tonight will be "larks and ravens" - see linked info.

July 18-Savor the rich, full, orchestrated sounds of the “Seattle Collaborative Contra Band” - 15 fine musicians led by multi-talented Sarah Comer! Caller Joe Micheals chooses dances that put springs in our steps and big smiles on our faces! Role terms tonight will be "gents & ladies".

July 25-Kate Powers, Marni Rachmiel, & Anita Anderson (fiddle, flute, sax, piano) – this powerful trio will REALLY light us up! Portland caller Noah Grunzweig treats us to a mix of energetic and sublime contras. Role terms tonight will be "larks and ravens" - see linked info. Also, we will celebrate June birthdays tonight!

Aug 1-Sail along on waves of joy with the inspiring music of “Countercurrent” (Brian Lindsay & Alex Sturbaum on fiddle, guitar, feet, & vocals!), and fun-to-the-max caller Susan Michaels at the helm! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins" - see linked info.

Aug 8-You’ll be glad to be “Making Time” for this wonderful band: Susan Burke on fiddle, Joe Micheals on guitar, Terry Wergeland on accordion, & Terry’s protegee Marielle Fries on piano! Gwen Rousseau’s calling is always delightful, too! Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins" - see linked info.

Aug 15-Sparks fly when these 2 dynamos connect: Ben Schreiber (St. Louis) of "Uncle Farmer" on fiddle & Alex Sturbaum of "Countercurrent" on guitar! Savvy caller Isaac Banner brings an array of scintillating contras. Role terms tonight will be "larks and robins" - see linked info.

Aug 22-Take a summer thrill ride with Claude Ginsburg, Dave Bartley, Anita Anderson, & Chris Miller on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, cajon, piano, sax, & banjo! Caller Marlin Prowell (Bellingham) keeps our contra-coaster on the tracks. Role terms tonight will be "gents & ladies".

Aug 29-“Wink at the Moon” (Sarah Comer, Stuart Williams, & Terry Wergeland on fiddles, guitar, & piano) works its musical magic to keep us starry-eyed. Vermont caller Mary Wesley casts her best contra spells! Role terms tonight will be "larks and ravens" - see linked info. Also, we will celebrate August birthdays tonight!

Sept 5-Supremely skilled, playful & creative, Audrey Knuth (CA - fiddle) & Larry Unger (MA - guitar) make a dynamite team! Ace caller Rich Goss (Portland, OR) lights the fuse. Role terms tonight will be "gents & ladies".

Sept 12-“Golden” (Audrey Knuth, Jesse Ball, Everest Witman – MA, VT, CA – fiddle, mandolin, accordion, piano, guitar, feet); Adam Carlson caller Role terms tonight will be "larks and ravens" - see linked info.

Sept 19-“The Nettles” (Laura Brophy, Kevin Johnsrude, Michael Proctor, Brian Bucolo – Corvallis, OR – fiddle, guitar, bass, drums); Sarah VanNorstrand (Syracuse, NY) caller   Role terms tonight will be "larks and ravens" - see linked info.

Sept 26-“Pete’s Posse” (Pete Sutherland, Oliver Scanlon, Tristan Henderson – VT - fiddles, mandolin, banjo, guitar, piano) ; Suzanne Girardot caller Role terms tonight will be "gents & ladies".

Oct 3-“The Waxwings” (Jesse Partridge, Brian Lindsay, Alex Sturbaum, Amy Englesberg – fiddle, guitar, accordion, keyboard); Lindsey Dono caller Role terms tonight will be "larks and ravens" - see linked info.

Oct 10-“The Euphemists” (Paula Hamlin, Kaye Blesener, Jerry Nelson, Alan Snyder, Dave Goldman – Portland – sax, clarinet, trombone, flute, fiddle, guitar, keyboard, percussion); Amy Wimmer caller Role terms tonight will be "gents & ladies".


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" or "larks & robins)to refer to thepositionsof the people in the dance – the "gent" (or lark) is on the left & "lady" (or raven, or robin) 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 07/11/19.