“On Mondays – we dance” – Don Primrose, Sullivan, NH
“A contra dance is like an amusement park ride we make for ourselves.” – Unknown
On Monday evenings in Nelson a dancer and his or her partner will be dancing a series of figures, or moves, with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same figures with another couple, and so on. The figures are similar to those of old-time square dancing. The figures are combined in different ways for each different dance.
The caller teaches each dance before it is actually done to the music. This gives everyone an idea of what to expect so the movements can be easily executed. The caller leads the dances while they are being done to music, so dancers are able to perform each movement to the music. Once the dancers appear to have mastered a particular dance, the caller may stop calling, leaving the dancers to enjoy the movement with music alone.
People of all ages and lifestyles, including children, are welcome. Contra dances are a place where people from many walks of life come together to dance and socialize.
The Nelson Monday Night Dance is a contra dance featuring a variety of callers and musicians, from local regulars to visiting dignitaries. An effort is made to identify and welcome beginners, and several of our regular dancers are always willing to offer a few tips. But if you arrive at the dance and feel lost, don’t hesitate to speak to the caller or someone else that looks like they know what they are doing.
If you are musician and would like to play for a dance or two during the evening, speak to Roger Treat (or the caller if you need help identifying Roger) – he is the official coordinator, and he will work you into the program (such as it is). If you’d like to sit in as a backup musician, you should ask whoever is playing at the time; some players are more receptive than others, and some may have tune sets that are more difficult to follow.
These articles were first post on the Monadnock Folklore Society’s website and by gary Shapiro on the Santa Barbara Country Dance Society’s website