Second Saturday Contra Dances
Except as indicated otherwise, our dances 8-11pm the
second Saturday of each month at the wood-floored,
air-conditioned American Legion, Wethersfield, 275 Main
Street, Wethersfield, CT [map]. There's
a free beginners' workshop at 7:30pm. Dance
admission for normal second Saturday contras is as
Your ninth regular HCD dance admission is free with
your HCD frequent dancer card. Special
events (anything asterisked in the "admission" column
below) have different prices and are not eligible for
"get in free" passes or redemption of HCD "frequent
- Normal adult admission: $12
- Seniors (65+): $10
- Students (teens & college): $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
|Saturday, Apr 13
|Dueling Whiskey Factory with
|Saturday, May 11
|Pavilion with Ted Crane
|Saturday, Jun 8
|Fiddleheads with Jim Gregory
|Saturday, Jul 13
|Wry Bread with Bill Fischer
|Saturday, Aug 10
|Bows & Hammers with Steve
For more info, please
contact us at 1-888-423-0423 (1-888-HCD-0HCD) Ext. 2 or
CONNtra Dances and Tunes
Although we're in the
shadow of the great contra dance region of Western
Massachusetts, Connecticut callers and musicians have
made significant contributions to contra dance.
- For contra dances by Connecticut callers, please
- For contra tunes by Connecticut musicians,
|So, what's contra
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 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
is Contra Dance?
Contra dancing is safe and fun, but please be
mindful of safety as you dance:
- Wear clean, flat-bottomed, soft-soled
shoes. We'd prefer you use shoes that have not
been worn outside, but we provide brushes so that
you can clean your street shoes. High heels
and flip-flops are dangerous for you and others.
- Children can be great dancers, but they must
use their own two feet and be capable of doing the
dance unassisted. Please do not carry or
tandem-dance with children, due to the danger to
themselves and others. Typically children ten
years and older can be fine contra dancers.
Adults: Do not lift small people off the floor
(e.g., when swinging)!
- Not all enjoy high-speed swings. Respect
your partner’s preference for swinging “speed.”
- “Twirling” is an optional embellishment.
Respect your partner’s preference whether to
twirl. A universal signal is that if a dancer
keeps hand low and resists raising it, he/she does
not wish to twirl.
- Be gentle with hands, thumbs, and fingers. Do
not grab / twist fingers or thumb.
- If the dance floor is crowded, avoid hitting
others by swinging "small" with your elbows bent and
close to you.
- If you do bump into someone, please do your
best to "dance small," keep the contra line
straight, and stay within the line.
- Our contra dance is smoke- and
alcohol-free. If you're impaired, please skip
- Report any safety concern to one of our
volunteers or organizers