Harvest Moon Folk wants you to know that newcomers are welcome and important. We hope you have a good experience on the dance floor and come back for more!
- Have fun! It’s only a dance. Don’t be nervous about making mistakes when learning to contra dance. Every person on the dance floor was a beginner at one time and even experienced dancers make mistakes.
- We highly recommend that newcomers attend a beginners session 30 minutes prior to the beginning of our dances. You’ll catch on more easily and have a lot more fun.
- Men and women are equal on the contra floor. Men ask women to dance and women ask men equally.
- In order to minimize newcomers stress, it’s usually a good idea for two newcomers not to dance together the first couple of dances. Ask an experienced dancer to dance with you. They’ll help get you where you need to go and you’ll probably pick up the dance more easily.
- It is typical of contra dancers to dance with a different partner each dance. When a dance ends, find a new partner (whether you know them or not) and jump back in there!
- As lines are forming for a dance, you and your partner join in at the end of a line. It is not considered good “contra etiquette” to jump in the middle or the top of a line.
- The caller will “walk thru” each dance before the dance actually begins. It’s a very good idea to listen to the walk thru. If you have trouble with the walk thru, ask the caller for help.
- It’s important to be on time in contra dancing. If you and your partner get off track, it’s better to skip that move and try to get to the next move on time.
- There is no fancy footwork in contra dancing. You’re shooting for a smooth walking step, not a bounce. Also, unless you are a real natural, you’ll probably want to keep things simple when first learning-i.e. a walking swing vs. a faster “buzz step” and unnecessary twirls. There will be many opportunities for all those twirls that you see on the dance floor once you feel more comfortable with what you’re doing.
- Important to contra: Eye contact. Always give eye contact (and it doesn’t hurt to smile either!) when you have a transaction with another person-male or female- on the dance floor. Giving weight. Giving weight to fellow dancers will help propel you flowingly into the next move. Eye contact and giving weight will help you feel that “people connection thing” that contra dancers love so much.
Chattahoochee Country Dancers (Atlanta, GA) have produced a series of videos that explain contra dancing. The YouTube versions are listed below.