Contra dancing, or the very similar English Country Dancing, is an under-appreciated style of dance these days, but in many places, including Nashville, people still gather to form long lines of facing partners and have a traditional good time. Country dancing has something for every mood, and can be dignified, lively, or both. The dances are repetitive but never dull, and couples generally take turns getting to do the most exciting parts, sashaying down the line while everyone else claps along, or leading everyone in weaving in and out of the lines in a pattern. Whether you want a Jane-Austen style ballroom scene or a lively hoedown like the Virginia Reel, this almost-lost art is for you!
In Nashville, one place to go for contra is the Friday Night Contra Dances series put on by the Nashville Country Dancers at Second Presbyterian Church's Fellowship Hall. The event includes an optional lesson for beginners at 7:30 p.m., followed by dancing from 8 to 10:30. It only costs $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children, seniors, and students, and the only requirement is soft-soled, non-marking shoes. If a low-cost, fun, and slightly old-fashioned Friday night is in order, try Friday Night Contra Dances!
The same group also hosts English Country Dancing lessons (on Tuesdays through the end of May; see website for more information on dates and times). They will also put on the Music City Masquerade October 31-November 2, and the Playford Ball (for experienced dancers only) will appear in March 2015. The cost of the Tuesday lessons is particularly cheap: just $2-$3 for hall rental. There's hardly a cheaper way to dance in Nashville!
Contra and country dancing, although well-known among the dance-minded, are making less of a comeback than swing styles, but are still a great way to get exercise, socialize, and have fun! Help these dance styles stay alive by joining a lively contra or country dance this weekend!