Contra Dancing

Every single thing I’ve done on the GOADS plan (Get Out And Do Stuff), I haven’t wanted to do. And every single time, after I’ve done it, I’m glad I did.

This was especially true of contra dancing.

The contra dance was in the Wyoming Fine Arts Center, a grand old building on a grand old street lined with large trees and lovely homes. It reminded me of some of the old sea towns on the Jersey shore. Not Seabright or Seaside Heights, but where the money and good manners live.

You had to wear an N-95 or KN-95 mask to get in. After I put mine on and showed my vaccination card, the two friendly greeters allowed me to enter.

Inside, tall arched windows lined the walls. Folding chairs sat beneath them, along the two longer sides of the room. The layout reminded me of a high school gym set up for a dance, except the worn wooden floor was probably over 100 years old.

The attire was similar to the country line dance crowd in that people wore whatever was best for dancing. Shoes were most important.

There were men in plaid shirts and shorts, with leather loafers and calf-high black socks. There were women in jeans and sneakers, but the sneakers had thick sleeves over the toes that kept the rubber from gripping the floor. Better for spinning.

Contra dance is like square dancing except the pace is slightly slower and instead of staying in groups of four, you also dance with the person next to you in line, and the person next to you keeps changing.

Also, the call to ‘swing your partner’ is different. In a square dance, you and your partner lock elbows and spin. In a contra dance, you come in closer. The ‘lead’ and the ‘follow’ (gender-neutral language for the ‘gent’ and the ‘lady’) each put one hand on the other’s back, and clasp hands with the other. If you want to be fancy (or Victorian), you can place hands palm to palm.

At one point I went to swing with a neighbor and put my hand on the back of a damp t-shirt. That’s when I realized, “I’m touching people.”

In a day or a week or a month, I don’t normally touch people. Maybe my hand accidentally grazes a cashier’s hand, but that’s about it.

It was fun to learn new dances and dance with so many different people. It felt good to be a human touching other humans.

Chewing the Cud of Good

Thankful people who know more than me, who can show me the way (on the dance floor and with my story).



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top