About Contra Dancing

Beginners are welcome and encouraged!

Usually the early part of an event will feature easier dances, and there is often a beginner's workshop before the start of an event. 

Contra is a fast and high-spirited folk dance. It was initially (and is still) danced to fast Irish music, but modern contra bands now mix in lively tunes from klezmer, French Canadian, swing, rock, and anything else that moves the spirit and the feet! Each dance is taught by a caller. Usually there is a walk-through before the music starts and the calls continue through the first few cycles of a dance. Each cycle puts you and your partner together with another couple for about a minute. You dance together and then you and your partner move on. People generally switch partners between dances. Come alone or with a friend! Before the intermission and again before the end, there's often a waltz, hambo, schottish, polka, swing, or other couple dance thrown in just for fun.

Here's a more philosophical treatment of the question "What Is Contra Dance?”, and here is Hands Four’s statement of principles.

Dancing is vigorous activity! It's a good idea to dress lightly and to bring a water bottle. If the weather calls for it, you may want a sweatshirt for when you're not dancing. Also...

Please Bring A Separate Set Of Clean Shoes

We ask people not to dance in street shoes because sand and grit under 400 fast-moving feet can badly damage a nice wooden dance floor. You will be most comfortable in regular dancing shoes, but a clean set of sneakers works great too. Some dancers like bowling shoes, which have similar soles to dancing shoes but give more support.