Monday, October 22, 2007

Contra Dance This Saturday (10/27) in Tuscaloosa: Sons of Anak, with Archie Faulkner Calling

I got this email from Jeremy Butler today:

Join us this coming Saturday evening (10/27) for a contra dance in Tuscaloosa. Sons of Anak will provide live music and Archie Faulkner will do the calling.

Contra dancing experience is not required; all dances are taught. Open to the public. Come with a partner or fly solo! (What is a contra dance? See below.)

When: 7:00 beginners session, 7:30-10:30 contra dance
Where: University Presbyterian Church, 1127 8th St. (corner of 12th Avenue and 8th Street, near Bryant-Denny Stadium), Tuscaloosa
Admission: A modest donation is requested.

Further details:

See you Saturday.

-- directions to University Presbyterian Church --

A map is available on our Website.

From the McFarland Blvd. exit (#73) on Interstate 20/59:

  1. Take McFarland Blvd to University Blvd. Go West, toward the UA campus and downtown.
  2. Left on 12th Ave. (Buffalo Phil's/Publix corner).
  3. Left on 8th Street.
  4. Free street parking is available.

From Lurleen Wallace Blvd. (US43, AL69, I359)

  1. Take Lurleen Wallace Blvd. to University Blvd. Go East through downtown Tuscaloosa, toward the UA campus.
  2. Right on 12th Ave. (Buffalo Phil's/Publix corner).
  3. Left on 8th Street.
  4. Free street parking is available.
-- What is a contra dance? --

Most contra dance events are open to all, regardless of experience. A typical evening of contra dance is three hours long, including an intermission. Many events offer beginner-level instructions for up to half an hour before the dance. A typical event consists of a number of individual contra dances, divided by a scattering of other partner dances, perhaps one or more waltzes, schottisches, polkas, or Swedish hambos. In some places, square dances are thrown into the mix. Music for the evening is typically a live band, playing jigs and reels from the British Isles, Canada, or the USA; often the tunes are traditional and more than a century old, and sometimes a few tunes which are more recent compositions that follow the traditional form, perhaps composed by the musicians on stage.

Generally, a leader, called a caller, will teach each individual dance just before the music for that dance begins. This is an introductory period called the "walk-through", during which the dancers learn the dance by walking through the steps and formations while following the caller's instructions. The caller gives the instructions orally, and sometimes augments them with demonstrations of steps by experienced dancers in the group. The walk-through usually proceeds in the order of the moves as they will be done with the music; in some dances, the caller may vary the order of moves during the dance, a fact that is usually explained as part of the caller's instructions.

After the walk-through, the music begins and the dancers repeat that sequence some number of times before that dance ends, often 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the length of the contra lines. Calls are normally given at least the first few times through, and often for the last. At the end of each dance, the dancers thank their partners. The contra dance tradition in North America is to change partners for every dance, while in the United Kingdom typically people dance with the same partner the entire evening. One who attends an evening of contra dances in North America does not need to bring his or her own partner. In the short break between individual dances, women and men invite each other to dance.


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