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Second Saturday Contra


The HCD Contra Jam Session Returns on December 13!

After an 18-month sabbatical, the HCD contra jam will return on Saturday, Dec 13, 6-7:30 pm.  The jam will be at our normal dance location (the Griffith Academy / American Legion hall), immediately preceding our regularly scheduled Saturday evening contra dance.  All musicians (and listeners, too) are welcome to join us!  We'll probably play at an "intermediate" level - not dead slow, but not dance tempo either.  We'll use the "around the circle" approach so that everyone has a chance to pick tunes, and we'll play each tune at the tempo desired by the person who picked the tune. Please plan to join us, and spread the word to other musicians.  For more information, please feel free to contact Rob.


Except as indicated otherwise, our dances 8-11pm 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].   There's a free beginners' workshop at 7:30pm.  Dance admission for normal second Saturday contras is as follows:

  • 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 contact us.
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).

See our latest flyer here.

When Who Where Admission
Saturday, Sept 13 Allemande North with Ted Crane Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, Oct 11 Audrey and Friends with Steve Holland Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, Nov 8 Dogtown with Bill Fischer Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Friday, Nov 28 Annual Post-Thanksgiving Dance: Wild Asparagus with George Marshall West Hartford Town Hall Conference Center, West Hartford
$15
($10 for students with ID)
Saturday, Dec 13 Fiddleheads with Bill Fischer Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Wednesday, Dec 31 Annual New Year's Eve Dance: French Connection with Donna Hunt
  • Potluck dinner (bring your leftover holiday goodies) - 6:45pm-7:45pm
  • Dancing - 8pm-12:20pm
West Hartford Town Hall Conference Center, West Hartford
$15 in advance
$20 at the door
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Jumpstart, with caller Don Heinhold
Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, February 14
Wry Bred, with caller TBD
Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, March 14
Henry Road Band, with caller Dugan Murphy
Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, April 11
Eric Reiner & Friends, with caller Ricky Holt
Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, May 9
O’Reely, with caller Ted Crane
Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, June 13
Wry Bred, with caller Bill Fischer
Griffith Academy / American Legion, Wethersfield $12

For more info, please contact us at 1-888-423-0423 (1-888-HCD-0HCD) Ext. 2 or by email.

To join the email list for Connecticut contra dance schedules, please enter your email and click "subscribe": 

What's Contra Dance?

Mark Twain &
                        Harriet Stowe
So, what's contra dance?  Click here for an explanation.  Also, you can take a look at a video from a recent HCD contra here.

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 to play.

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 particularly so.

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?

Safety

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.
  • Respect your partner’s desired swinging speed.  Not everyone enjoys high-speed swings. 
  • Twirling is an extra / optional dance move, so respect your partner’s wish to spin or not to spin.
  • Be gentle with hands, thumbs, and fingers.
  • Crowded dance floor? Swing with your elbows bent and close to you. Your neighbors will appreciate not being elbowed!
  • Our contra dance is smoke-, perfume-, and alcohol-free.

Please report any safety concerns to a dance volunteer.

Last update: 2014-12-07