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Contra Dance in Concord NH

June 17th, 2006
dancing  [html]

Just back from the contra dance in Concord NH. Neat place. It was in a community center in a place that really felt a lot like Snicker's Gap by Bluemont. Center of stores in a rural area, wooden buildings, low porches out front. The dance itself was both a really good dance and a really bad dance. But I had a good time. It was small, with several new people and the music was amazing; Nat Hewitt on fiddle with Finn Hewitt on keyboard. The caller, however, was not really so amazing and kept messing things up. Oh well.

What really struck me most was the dance composition, though. There were two squares and I think four proper dances. There were at least four dances with no neighbor swing, two of which had no swings at all. English-feeling figures seemed to be considered the more basic sort; in the second dance -- which was done like a teaching dance -- there were figure-eights, hand casts, and waist casts. Soon after was a dance with contra corners. And people were more comfortable with the contra corners than more modernish things like `box the gnat'. People also did not do swing-style twirls (such as the one going into a swing or after a circle left) or expect them. I guess that the classification `modern urban contra' for dances like the Springstep/VFW isn't that far off.

Addendum 7/21: They also took ladies chain to be by default all the way over and all the way back, with the definition I'm used to being called a 'half ladies chain'. They also once called half a hey for four which while I reasonable call is never once I'd heard before. Half a hey is faster and contra has not had heys for three for so long that there's no confusion. I do wonder what would happen if the caller called "first man, both women, hey for three". Probably confusion, too much to even be solved with a walk through. And unhappiness on the part of the left out man.

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