In praise of dance

Photo courtesy of NM FolkMADS

Photo courtesy of NM FolkMADS

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!  Psalm 149:3

A year and a half ago, an acquaintance of mine invited me to a local Saturday night dance.  She said it would be fun and that I would enjoy it.  I was a bit apprehensive.  However, at that season of my life, I was looking for more interactive activities for a Saturday night, so I agreed to go.

Wow!  I had a great time.  I was hooked!

The form was Contra Dance, which is an Americanized dance that has derived over the years from English Country Dances and later taken up and modified by the French.


The term “contra” comes from the French word: “contredanses”.  Although practiced throughout America since colonial days with other traditional dances, Contra Dance grew in popularity during the 20th Century in the United States, partly due to the efforts of Henry Ford in response to the Jazz Era of the 1920s, and has since grown ubiquitous throughout the country.

A contra dance is like an amusement park ride we make for ourselves. –Unknown

Contra Dance dances are formed in long lines with partnered dancers, starting with men across from women.  A caller will describe the movements of the dance, as the partners maneuver and intricately weave amongst each other in a variety of weaves, do-si-does, and swings.  Live music is the norm for Contra Dances, with the band generally playing a variety of folk tunes with stringed instruments and drum.

A contra dance is one of the few forms of dance where by the end of the evening you are likely to have danced with everyone in the room.

A short YouTube video that demonstrates Contra may be found here: Contra Dancing video clip.

So the next time you have no plans for a Saturday night, take your family to a local Contra Dance.  No experience or special equipment is necessary – just comfortable clothes and a willingness to smile and have fun.  Most Contra Dances provide a basic lesson at the start, which is sufficient to get you started.

Once you start, you will be hooked!


Blessings to you and your family throughout 2015.  Please drop me an email if you would like to suggest any topics for me to cover during the year or if you would like to submit a guest post.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to The Hill of Beans and join me on Facebook.

About John Forrest