Contra Basics

Are you new to contra dancing or just want to understand how it all works? The videos below will introduce you to basic moves, line progression, and more.

Come early to the free Introductory lesson at 7:30 to 8:00 pm on our Saturday night dances and start the evening with a smile!

The Basics

Contra Intro Session (George Marshall)
What the music tells you, giving weight, swing hold, etiquette

Basic Moves – Contra Dance Beginners Session (Seth Tepfer)
Giving weight, do-si-do, allemande, swing, balance, courtesy turn, promenade
(For teaching purposes people are arranged in a circle instead of in the usual contra lines.)

2 People Moves (Chattahoochee Country Dancers)
Do-si-do, allemande, swing, balance

4 People Moves (Chattahoochee Country Dancers)
Circle, star, ladies’ chain, right and left through

Putting it all together

Suggestion – Try following one person/couple to understand the patterns.

Contra lines and progression – Chattahoochee Country Dancers

Contra lines and progression – Cis Hinkle

Contra lines and basic moves – Seth Tepfer

Dance roles – What are Larks and Robins?

As an art form, contra dancing evolves over time reflecting changes in society. You may find gender-neutral terms being used to describe the traditional dance roles of ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gents’ at many of today’s contra dances. Terms such as ‘Robins’ (person on the Right) and ‘Larks’ (person on the Left) are becoming more common.

Many people enjoy dancing both roles and advanced dancers may switch roles during a dance. As a beginner, don’t worry about this – just concentrate on the position you need to be in and dance with the smiling person coming towards you!

What about that fancy stuff?

You will see many dancers adding flourishes such as twirls and spins to basic contra dance moves. These are optional; you do not need to do them until you are comfortable with the basic moves (especially if you tend to get dizzy).

But I get dizzy! – Here are some tips to help with dizziness.