From 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 2 the Arkansas Valley Music and Dance (AVMAD) and the Country Dance and Song Society are sponsoring a potluck and contra dance in Buena Vista at the Congregational Church (217 Crossman Street).
Everyone who attends should plan to bring a dish to share with other attendees. Drinks, water and iced tea, and eating utensils will be provided by AVMAD.
The dinner will begin at 6:00 p.m. with live music for dancing starting at 7:00 p.m. There will be a lesson for each dance to help teach attendees the steps. Partners and previous dance experience are not required.
Donations will be accepted at the door and are encouraged for the dance. Tips for the band will also be appreciated.
According to the California Dance Co-operative, “Contra Dancing is done by all ages, all over the USA, and in fact, all over the world, though it is considered American folk dancing. It bears some resemblance to Square Dancing, but has some significant differences.”
The dances traditionally are done to live music. To help teach the steps a “caller” will call out the moves. Contra dance is done in lines, but many terms are the same in contra and square dancing.
According to Master Class, “contra dancing traces back to seventeenth-century country dances.” The dances made their way from Britain to France, eventually returning to England and finding their way to the United States. Contra dances became a popular American social dance in the eighteenth century.
It fell out of popularity in the nineteenth century before a renewed push for contra dancing by Henry Ford. Ford enlisted his friend Benjamin Lovett to teach contra dances to stymie the rise of the jazz scene, which Ford saw as a “corrupting influence.”
The Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) helps to keep the tradition alive today.
(Featured Image: Photo by Ardian Lumi on Unsplash).