Except as indicated otherwise, our dances 7:30-10pm the
second Saturday of each month at the wood-floored,
air-conditioned Griffith Academy (formerly the American
Legion hall), 275 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT
[map]. A free contra jam session
precedes the dance at 6pm, and there's a free beginners'
workshop at 7:30pm. Dance admission for normal
second Saturday contras is as follows:
There's no minimum dancer age, but kids who are
dancing must do so on their own (e.g., no threesomes,
kids being carried, babies in backpacks, etc.) and know
what they're doing (or, at least, be as quick as adult
newcomers to learn). For little kids, we recommend
the local “family" contra dances (Granby,
Cornwall, Stafford Springs).
- Normal adult admission: $12
- Seniors (65+): $10
- Students with ID: $5
- Kids 12 and under: Free
- Volunteers: Admission is free for those
serving 30 minutes as an admission desk
volunteer. To sign up for a slot, please
See our latest flyer
|New Start Time for 2nd
Saturday Contras (starting in July)
Due to the neighbor's noise complaints, we
have decided to end our contras at 10:00,
when Wethersfield’s stricter nighttime noise
limit takes effect. We can’t simply start
our dances earlier because another group
rents the hall before us, leaving us
insufficient setup time. So, beginning
with our July 11 contra, we will dance
7:30-10pm (newcomer's workshop at
7:15). We’ll try this arrangement for
the next few months, possibly adjusting
further based on that experience. (Note that
June contra is unchanged at 8-11pm)
Free Admission to
The July contra dance (7:30-10pm) will be
free admission for all dancers (though we'll
gladly and gratefully accept donations),
thanks to Contra Committee member Jen
Jasenski, who wishes to celebrate her own
(and regular dancer Cate Mahony’s) birthday
by treating all to a free dance. Please join
us for the contra and birthday cake with Jen
|Saturday, May 9
|O’Reely, with caller Ted
Griffith Academy, Wethersfield
|Saturday, June 13
|Wry Bred, with caller Bill
Griffith Academy, Wethersfield
||Kitsch 'n Sync
with caller Don Heinold (and special guest George
Thompson playing the bagpipes)
|Saturday, Aug 8
||Band TBA with caller Jim Gregory
For more info, please
What's Contra Dance?
So, what's contra dance?
Click here for an explanation. Also,
you can take a look at a video from a recent HCD
Contra is a traditional form of New England
social dance, with roots dating back 200+
years. It's a cousin of English country
dance and American square dance, with a caller
and figures like "do-si-do" and "swing your
partner." It's a huge amount of fun and
not at all corny.
In contra dance, couples form two lines,
partners facing each other. Prompted by the
caller, they perform a sequence of figures
that causes them to progress up or down the
line, meeting other couples with whom they
repeat the sequence. Eventually every couple
dances with every other couple.
The music is performed live. The music
consists mainly of Irish, New England, and
Quebecois jigs and reels, with an occasional
waltz or Scandinavian dance tossed in. The
band's structure is wildly variable, typically
including fiddle, piano, and guitar/mandolin,
but sometimes including flute, penny whistle,
concertina, accordion, dulcimer, bass,
clarinet, or whatever else a musician happens
We typically provide light refreshments
(e.g., lemonade or ice tea, cookies). The
dances are smoke- and alcohol free.
No Experience Necessary: We
welcome and encourage beginners. The dances are fun
and easy to learn. The dances don't require fancy
footwork - if you can walk, you can contra. A workshop
30 minutes before the dance will teach you what you
need to know to get started.
Dress: Dress is very casual
(e.g., shorts and t-shirts are not out of place). Wear
cool comfortable clothing and clean soft-soled shoes -
NOT square dance outfits, hats, boots, high heels, or
footwear that will mark the floor. Contra is aerobic
exercise, so be prepared to work up a sweat.
Experienced dancers often bring a towel and a couple
spare dry shirts.
No Partner Needed: Contra dancers
are of all ages. You can come alone or with a friend,
and you'll meet a lot of new people. Our convention is
to switch partners for each new set, although you can
stick with the same partner if you both really want to
do so. You'll find contra dancers to be very helpful
and friendly, and our Hartford area dancers
All Dances Taught: The caller
walks everyone through the moves of the dance before
the music starts. Once the music starts, he/she
prompts the moves until everyone has them down.
For more info, please see Gary Shapiro's excellent
What is Contra Dance?
Please be mindful of safety as you dance:
- Please wear clean,
flat-bottomed, soft-soled shoes. Shoes never
worn outdoors are best, but you can clean
outdoor shoes with the available brushes.
Avoid high heels and flip-flops.
- Dancers (especially
children) must be able to dance on their own
(e.g., no threesomes, no kids being carried,
no babies in backpacks, etc.).
- Don't lift anyone
off the floor. Be gentle with hands, thumbs,
and fingers. Respect your partners
wishes for swing speed and twirls.
- Crowded dance floor?
Swing with your elbows bent and close to you.
Your neighbors will appreciate not being
- Our contra dance is
smoke-, perfume-, and alcohol-free.
Please report any safety concerns to a dance
Last update: 2015-06-03