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Second Saturday Contra

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].  Minimum age for dancers is 14.  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 (junior high, high school, college - age 14+):  $5
  • All dancers must be 14 or older.
  • Volunteers:  Admission is free for those serving 30 minutes as an admission desk volunteer.  To sign up for a slot, please contact us.
Minimum dancer age: Because our organization can neither assure the safety of young children at our dances nor accept the risk to children or to our organization and its organizers, our contra dance is an adult dance, and all dancers must be age 14 or older. (This rule applies only to HCD Contra dances; other HCD dances may have their own age restrictions.) For those who wish to participate in contra dances that welcome young children, there are several child-friendly “family contra dances" in Connecticut - one in Granby, one in Cornwall, and one in Stafford Springs. If you are interested in organizing a family contra dance or would like more information about this policy, please speak with a committee member at any of our contra dances. For additional information on the age restriction, please click here.

See our latest flyer here.

When Who Where Admission
Saturday, Sept 13 Allemande North with Ted Crane American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, Oct 11 Audrey and Friends with Steve Holland American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, Nov 8 Dogtown with Bill Fischer American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Friday, Nov 28 Annual Post-Thanksgiving Dance: Wild Asparagus with George Marshall West Hartford Town Hall Conference Center, West Hartford
Saturday, Dec 13 Fiddleheads with Bill Fischer American Legion, Wethersfield $12
Wednesday, Dec 31 Annual New Year's Eve Dance: French Connection with Donna Hunt West Hartford Town Hall Conference Center, West Hartford
$15 in advance
$20 at the door

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

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 click here.
  • For contra tunes by Connecticut musicians, please click here.

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?

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Contra dancing is safe and fun, but please be mindful of safety as you dance:

  • Wear clean, flat-bottomed, soft-soled shoes. Shoes that have not been worn outside are best, but you can clean your walking shoes with the available brushes. High heels and flip-flops are dangerous for you and others.
  • Dancers must be age 14 or older, and must use their own two feet and do each dance unassisted. All dancers must keep both feet on the floor. Do not lift anyone off the floor. Injuries happen when heels fly.
  • Swinging with your dance partner is fun, but not all of us enjoy high-speed swings. Respect your partner’s swinging speed.
  • Twirling is an extra / optional dance move, so respect your partner’s wish to spin or not to spin. Men, honor the universal signal: a low hand that resists raising means your partner does not want 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 the extra space.  If you bump into someone, please try harder to keep your contra line straight and the dancing couples an equal distance from the next couple.
  • Our contra dance is smoke-, perfume-, and alcohol-free.

Please report any safety concerns to a dance volunteer.

Last update: 2014-08-18