Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Good Wholesome Fun

So last weekend I went to my first contra dance. Contra dancing is something like a hybrid between the square dancing we learned in third grade and the old English dances portrayed in period movies with the long rows of people moving up and down the hall. There's a caller who makes up the dances and a band on stage. This time it was a fiddle, a guitarist, and an accordion player. I danced to the accordion.

The dancing itself was pretty fun. Aimee and I went early so I could get in on the lesson before the dance started (Aimee is a veteran contra dancer, having begun this hobby in full force last April) and while no one move is complicated, I found that just remembering where my hands went half the time was a challenge. Oh, and that whole knowing your left from right thing comes in pretty handy.

Soon, the time came for the first dance, and I found a very nice (patient) guy who knew what he was doing to be my partner. It went something like swing around in a circle with your partner, go around the big circle (4 people or two couples) 3/4 of the way, girls do-si-do one and a half times, move up the row and then start over again. I was dizzy for like 20 minutes after all of this swinging around stuff!

Here's a video I took of one of the next dances, it's not the same set, but it still has the whole one partner and two couples make a square thing going on. You can hear the caller and the band...

I think there's a move called the half-hey in there and there's also a gypsy thing too, so... yeah. I'm going to need to go back just to understand what the heck they're saying!

The dance was held at the University of Chicago Ida Noyes Hall, which was just one beautiful building among many at that campus. (I will definitely be going back in the spring to take some photos.) Apparently, the folklore society holds these dances every month (that seems like a pretty active club to me- what the heck else do would they do though?) and since it was the first dance of the year, there were a lot of novice dancers like myself. I suspect that there were lots of people who had made New Years resolutions to go and be more social, or to try something new, or to actually touch a girl... yeah, there were some pretty socially awkward people there, but let's face it, I was not on my A game either, being dizzy all the time and everything.

So all in all, it was a pretty good night. Aimee and I ended up volunteering to be ushers for one of the concerts in the upcoming Folk Festival (maybe that's what the club does!) so that we can get into one of the dances for free...

I think I just got sucked in.

1 comment:

SP said...

This story still cracks me the hell up. Next time I want video of you doing the do-see-do thingy. When I head down to visit, can we go dancin?