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Fun, Flirty and Great Exercise: Contra, English Country, folk

Updated on March 15, 2011

Contra Dancing/English Country Dance

Fun, Friendly, Flirty Exercise Where else can you be in the arms or a new person every 12- 32 beats of the music, dance to live bands, and flirt with everyone (or no one)? Only at a Contra Dance, an energetic, fun dance form that requires no fancy steps and no leading. We dance to jigs and reels in the English, Irish, French and Scottish traditions, the roots of Bluegrass and Country Music. Contra has some of the same patterns as Square Dancing, but without the sting ties. It's an Americanized form of English Country Dance which you may have seen in all the movies of Jane Austin books. It can get how and sweaty. You can dance to conserve energy or spin and twirl.

Flirt, but Don't Hurt One of the secrets of Contra Dance is the flirting. Just look into the eyes of a partner, smile or not, pull the person closer, add flourishes and your individual style, and you are in love in the moment of the dance. The sexual energy can be intense; don't carry it off the dance floor without mutual agreement.The pleasure of sharing positive energy with many people and the opportunity to validate each other brings joy to out hearts.

Swing That Tune Bands that play for Contra Dancing have many styles: New England (where the dance originated), Old Timey, rock accents, swing, Klesmer, French-Canadian tunes and Middle Eastern drums.

Make New Friends People of all ages are welcome. Children probably should be at least 10. It's an inexpensive night out, usually around $10. An introduction is given 1/2 hour before dances. Dances are run by volunteer community groups. Parents cooperate to watch children who are not dancing. Bring toys and activities for them.

Women love men who can dance, so try Contra Dance.

"Oh, Father, a Ball, Please" If you have seen any Jane Austin movies and liked the dancing in them, you might want to try English Country Dance. English Country dance tunes are beautiful, a living tradition, with live music. No formal dress is required, though at special balls, people like to dress in period attire.

Train Your Brain We know now that learning new things helps keep the brain young. Try Contra Dancing and English Country Dance. I think you'll like it.

In the San Francisco Bay Area

Energetic Dance

Balance the Bay, May 2008 photo by Davey


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    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 4 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I learned about contra dance in the San Francisco Bay Area. I used to attend the Palo Alto dances all the time, and my favorite one was the Dawn Dance held at Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz over President's Day Weekend. I now live on the Big Island of Hawaii, where they rarely have them. I miss them terribly! How can I start one here, among high school and college students?

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 9 years ago from Sydney

      Nope, I never thought of Contra dancing as sexy either - but all kinds of dancing are great ways for grown-ups to meet the opposite sex in a civilized and safe venue, so why not? 

      (tip - click the right arrow to float your picture to the right, then move it up to the top of the Hub. Then people will see a nice pic instead of an ad when they open your Hub!)

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I never thought of contra dance as sexy I must say. Lots of people think when I dance latin american its sexy- but its all an illustion look at their eyes, not into them - flirt with the th guy in the back row of the audience who doesn't exist! You sound as addicted to dance as I am- must run off to a competition !

    • lifedancer profile image

      lifedancer 9 years ago from California

      Yes, but jazz was popular and recognized by Great Britain and Europe while we ignored our own great, new artists.  You still have barn dances.  I have a neighbor from England who had one for his wedding celebration.

    • About-The-Home profile image

      About-The-Home 9 years ago

      You Americans keep our traditional dances, and here in England, it's easier to find a Western Line dancing venue than a traditional dance venue