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What is Contra Dancing?

Contra dancing is a form of American folk dancing, usually danced to live music of Celtic origin. Although it has been done since the eighteenth century, contra dancing is a living tradition. Thousands of people contra dance every week all over the country, and new contra dances are being written all the time. Contra dancers form an informal community locally, regionally, and nationally.

Check out this NPR story on Contra Dancing!

Contra dancing is a very easy form of dance to learn, but the music is lively and the dancing is vigorous and aerobic. Each dance is taught by the caller, who cues the dancers through the moves in the dance. Contra dance moves are similar to square dance moves, but sets of couples dance in facing lines. Each time through the dance, each couple dances with the couple next to them, and ends by trading places with that couple. In the course of a dance, each couple dances with every other couple in the set. Contra dancing combines the pleasure of dancing with your partner with the pleasure of dancing with everybody in the room.

Contra dances are community events. At almost any contra dance you will find people of all ages and all dance skill levels, from young to old, beginner to expert. Contra dancers form a very open and welcoming group of people. And you don't have to come with a partner. At a contra dance, it is customary to dance with a variety of partners. It is perfectly acceptable for either a man or a woman to ask someone they haven't met before to dance. You will find contra dancing a great way to make new friends.

You may also want to check out some attempts by Gary D. Shapiro to answer the question, "What Is Contra Dance?"

General Information about FoTD Contra Dances:


The Masonic Lodge, 225 W. Oak, Fort Collins, Colorado


The 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month, 7pm to 10pm, with a free introductory contra dance lesson at 6:10pm.

Music: always live and always excellent!

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