Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Contra dancing

Contra dancing originated in New England in the 1800s as a type of speed-dating: a fair and equitable way for people to meet each other. This dance has nothing to do with Central American dissidents; rather, the name refers the starting position of the dance, with men and women in parallel lines opposite (contra) each other.

A whimsical definition from What is Contra Dance:

"Contra dance is a form of dance that thrusts a different person of the opposite sex into your arms every 30 seconds or so. Actually, this is only true sometimes. It might be more prudent, but less whimsical, to say that contra dance is one of the few dance forms where by the end of the evening you are likely to have danced with everyone."
From the same website
"A contra dance is like an amusement park ride we make for ourselves." --Unknown

Youth now connect with contra, catching the attention of NPR's All Things Considered.

A good example from youtube

Bryan/College Station has a wonderful contra dance group. Most often, live music is provided by the fabulous ensemble, JalapeƱo Honey, and sometimes by another group called Contradiction. Many people come just to enjoy the music. Sometimes a member or two of the nationally renowned Marian Anderson String Quartet sits in with the band. The magical part of contra dancing, aside from the music, is the clever way in the dance progresses, allowing each person to dance with every other dancer of either gender. From above, I imagine it would look like a combination kaleidoscope and bicycle chain.

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