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Second Saturday Contra

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:

  • 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.

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 July Contra

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 and Cate!

When Who Where Admission
Saturday, May 9
O’Reely, with caller Ted Crane
Griffith Academy, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, June 13
Wry Bred, with caller Bill Fischer
Griffith Academy, Wethersfield $12
Saturday, July 11 Kitsch 'n Sync with caller Don Heinold (and special guest George Thompson playing the bagpipes)
Griffith Academy, Wethersfield FREE!
Saturday, Aug 8 Band TBA with caller Jim Gregory
Griffith Academy, Wethersfield $12

For more info, please contac us  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?


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 elbowed!
  • Our contra dance is smoke-, perfume-, and alcohol-free.

Please report any safety concerns to a dance volunteer.

Last update: 2015-06-03