Where: The dances are held at Christ Church parish hall, 37497 Zach Fowler Road, Chaptico, MD.
When: The 2nd Saturday of the month September through June. The evening starts at 7:00 PM with a half hour beginner’s dance workshop followed by live music and dance from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM. Check the website calendar for the lineup of dances! Weather related cancellations are posted on the website.
The next contra is: Saturday, MAY 12TH. Jason Little, Lois Stephenson and Elaine Szymkowiak, will be calling with live acoustic string band music by the Southern Maryland Open Band Doors open at 7:00 PM; the dance begins at 7:30. Beginners are encouraged to arrive at 7:00 for a dance workshop. Admission is $10 for non-SMTMD members; $6 for members. Band members and children 16 and under are free.
History: Contra dancing has its roots in Western Europe, notably, the British Isles and the Brittany region of France, with a very strong current day interest in North America and the U.K. The music might be of Celtic, Appalachian, or French Canadian extraction, and while retaining strong resemblance to its roots, has taken on a life of its own in North America, with many sub genres; collectively referred to by some as Old Time.
Like the music, Contra dancing goes back at least to 17th century Europe, notably the British Isles and the Celtic regions in France. It is thought to have evolved from English Country Dancing, and features reels, jigs, other types of dances where the men and women assemble in long opposing (contra) lines at the start of each dance, and change through several partners in the course of one dance. A typical contra dance consist of a set of geometric figures that are initially prompted by a caller, and ideally, after some repetitions, are memorized by the dancers, with caller tending to call less and less. Normally, an evening’s dancing also features two waltzes with the final dance of the evening always being a waltz.
The footwork is not intricate or fancy, but the kinetic energy and the interaction with many dance partners, as in square dancing, places the focus squarely on the social aspects. An evening of Contra dancing is an evening of smiling, laughing, meeting new folks, and listening to great live music while getting a bit of a workout on the dance floor.
Children are welcome, and all adult sponsored children 16 years of age or younger are admitted free of charge!! No special clothing is required, but you need to be comfortable, to move freely. A simple pair of flat soled shoes is recommended; leather soles are even better. There is also an ice cream social during the intermission, what more could you ask?
Southern Maryland Open Band
The Open Band is skillfully lead by Elgin Perry, one of the founding members of the group. Elgin will tell you, playing for such exuberant dancers is a hoot. And, a big bonus is that the band is truly "open." We are not an auditioned band. If you want to join the band, just bring your instrument to a dance around 6 PM for warmup and enjoy a fun night with a bunch of new friends. Download Southern Maryland Open Band Tune Book here.
Download the Waltz book here.