Sunday, April 3, 2011


Over the past three years or so I've become involved in dancing. The college I attended freshman year had a club in which we learned mostly swing, but also charleston, lindy hop, tango, salsa, polka, waltz and a handful of aerials. About a year prior to this I was introduced by a friend to a casual and folksy dance called "contra." My first reaction was to question the origin, composition and intent of this foreign form of dance, but the aforementioned friend tempered my puzzlement by informally defining contra as a conglomeration of dance, especially square, folk, and "Austen-esque" eighteenth century British styles. The basic mechanics of contra involve couples forming long lines and then performing specific predetermined movements in different patterns. Over the course of the average dance, a couple will continually move up and down the line, repeating the same steps until the dance is called to an end. All in all, good exercise and lots of fun!

My favorite aspect of contra, however, is the laid back atmosphere and casual nature of fellow dancers. By no means is this the kind of dance that is practiced ad nauseam so as to appear impeccably trained on a stage. Rather, contra is recognized as an activity to do with friends. Never do I feel pressure to perform nor worry about making a mistake. If I or anyone does, it's simply laughed off or received with a smile and everyone simply alters their movements to keep in time with the dance. Contra is certainly a wonderful way to spend an evening with friends, or a fun excuse to get out the door for the night!

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