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Contra Dance

PCD holds contra dances on Wednesday nights, and the 4th Saturday of the month.  Please check our Calendar of Events on the home page for variations to this schedule, or scroll down for a printable copy.

"Contra dancing brings joy and laughter and friends into your life. It is fun beyond words. Contra dancing is done to live music – guitar and fiddle and other instruments, playing jigs and reels. A caller teaches each dance, and tells you what to do. You just need to know how to walk! No need to bring a partner."

-Text courtesy of Montpelier Contra Dance

Contra dance is a folk dance made up of long lines of couples usually ascribed to New England or the Appalachian region. It has mixed origins from English country dance, Scottish, and French dance styles in the 17th century, and also possesses strong African influence from Appalachia.

Take a look at the following video for a good sense of what contra dancing is like. This is a video of a special-event contra dance, with music by Perpetual e-Motion and calling by Kim Roberts. The contra dance being called is First Hey, by Paul Balliet.  You can also view more videos here.

Video courtesy of Doug Heacock.

Newcomer Review

One of our newest members enjoyed the first-time experience and shared her story in an email to a friend.  If you are not sure what to expect from a night with us, read on:

"I don't remember laughing so much in one evening or seeing so many smiling people having such a good time in a very long time. I came home on a high. The people were incredibly welcoming.


"I went to the ½ hour class at 7:30 before the dance where the caller taught the steps. I'll be going to those for a long time. I was the only newbie and three other dancers immediately came over to make a square so that I could experience the steps properly. Some steps were hard to remember but throughout the evening people (usually the men because of the nature of the dances) would guide me into the right move or place. No one got upset [when] they were all going one way and I was going in the other direction. Lots of kindness and support. Laugh, laugh, laugh.


"What surprised me was the physical vigor. I needed to sit out some of the dances to catch my breath, but just watching was fun while I tried to figure out what was going on. Just being there is uplifting. Now I see why Frances is so addicted. In some ways it reminds me of skiing. You're so busy focusing on getting the physical action right that you don't have room in your brain for any other thoughts or worries."


--SJS, Princeton

More About Dancing
Princeton Country Dancers Logo 2
Schedule of Events
Useful Dance Tips
Buzz Step Tutorial Video
Introduction to Contra Dancing, with Video
PCD Policy on Dance Behavior
History of Contra Dance Video from PBS
Princeton Country Dancers contra dance
Swallowtail Dance, Princeton Country Dancers
Princeton Country Dancers enjoy a contra dance
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