I went to the Starry Plough in Berkeley last night for the first time, though I didn't go for the Irish ceilidh dancing. Bob has recruited me to join him in his mission to lower the average age of contra dancers in the bay area, and his first step towards this goal was to do a contra dance demo at the Plough's Monday night dance during the break. Since I don't really do Irish dancing, I brought along my banjo to join the band until it was time for our demo.
We had eight of us for the demo, which is exactly the minimum size for it to make any sense at all. Some of us had contra'd before, and the rest were good Irish dancers, so they picked it up pretty fast when Bob taught us the dance beforehand. It went pretty well, and though we had some mistakes (mostly due to last minute choreography changes intended to minimize downtime at the ends) they were mistakes that were more noticeable to the dancers than to the audience. People seemed appreciative, and hopefully lots of them will rush out to try contra dancing this weekend. So all in all it was fairly successful.
Speaking of recruiting new contra dancers, here's a question for all you Stanford folks out there in my readership: Why don't we have more college students (or other people in that approximate age group) at contra dances around here? What would it take to get more people into it? It really is one of my favorite styles of dance, but I've always had a hard time getting more people to come along with me. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, with all that said, there's a contra dance this Saturday in Palo Alto. Anyone who wants to go should see the BACDS website or me for more info. It'll be fun.
I sadly know nothing about contra dancing or contra music; are there any Web sites you recommend for more info or even audio / video samples?
BACDS.org has a contra dance schedule for the bay area in general (there's a regular dance in SF, for instance, as well as PA and lots of other places). A few years ago, they even put together a compilation of recordings by lots of local contra dance bands. This page has a few sound samples from it. I'm not sure if I've ever seen any video samples online, but I'll try to poke around a bit sometime and see if I can find anything. Best thing to do though is to just go to a dance and see for yourself. :-)
Wow, I met you saw or met some of my Davis english country dance crew when you went to the Plough. Contra dancing is just wonderous, I too have wondered why more keen young folks such as ourselves don't do it more. When I get back to Davis I am going to try to start some in Davis (rah me!) :-)
love you, take care!
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