Contras (New England)


Last updated:   October, 2020

Proponents of Contra-dance cite its advantages as:

Since Contra doesn’t involve any taxing, energetic figures e.g. racing down the length of a set, ‘balance & kick’ or ‘basket’, it’s suitable for the more mature dancer.  Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that Contra isn’t amenable to frivolous flourishes e.g. transitions between balancing, circling or starring…  and swinging, can all be embellished by the man encouraging the lady to twirl… or, for unashamed flamboyance: the “dip”, (where the man tucks his left [or even right] leg behind his lady’s right as she rotates her trunk slightly Ccw..  He cradles the back of her neck in his left hand and, leaning forward, taking her weight with his right arm around her back - her right hand around his back - gently lowers her backwards, horizontally, over a convenient thigh…)   …  (A ‘back-breaker’ - not for the novice.)  “Kick that lovely leg!”

But ultimately, Contra doesn’t offer quite the variety, the ‘cherries’, afforded by figures such as ‘Strip the Willow’, ‘Duck & Dive’, or ‘Thread the Needle’.

* * *

32-bar Contra dances often comprise eight, four-bar figures c.f. four, eight-bar figures for European country dances - so possibly a bit more demanding to remember.

Accompaniment is usually contemporary - performed by string bands.


You want to see a demonstration of Contra?
Here’s a sample, danced with youthful exuberance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HlfylsylXo

What you’re watching:
(This dance sequence is “M.A.D.  About Dancing” by Robert Cromartie.)

Formation:   duple minor, ‘1’s improper.
Start in a crossways wavy line.

    * * *
(Bars 1-4) Balance the Wave,
Allemande by the right ½ around (as a variation: ‘Box the Gnat’),
(5-8) Balance the Wave,
Men Allemande by the left ¾ around - to go back and …
(9-16) …Balance (two-handed meet, stomp, push-back, stomp), and (lady could twirl Ccw. under her partner’s left arm - who rotates ½ Cw. around her, into:) Swing Neighbor,

(17-24) (In fours, holding hands) Circle left three places,
Swing Partner,
(25-28) Circle left three places - to a crossways wavy line (partners face the same way),
(29-30) Balance the Wave,
(31-32) Pull-thru’ - to progress.



Aqueous

Author:   Don Flaherty


Watch, from 4m43, at:   https://youtu.be/joM0I6jEwIU

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top - each couple faces another couple, ‘1’s improper.

Suspended, wood-board flooring enhances stomping.

    * * *

A1:   Balance & Swing new neighbor.  (8 bars)
Finish with the lady on the man’s right.

A2:   Minor sets circle left (Cw.) three places.  (4)
Swing partner.  (4)


B1:   Longways lines forward, stomp & back tap/stomp.  (4)
Chain ladies across the set (optional Cw. twirl).  (4)

B2:   Longways lines forward, balance (forward, tap, lean-back, tap).  In minor (two-couple) set Right-Left Pull-by  (cross by r. h. with partner, l. h. along the line - with neighbor).  (4)
Lines forward and repeat…  (4)
or, if reached an end, turnround - as a couple, change designation and wait-out a go; if already waiting-out, re-join.



Becket Reel  (variant)

by Herbie Gaudreau


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/MpcKR7rFfSA

Form:   Becket Contra lines  i.e. a longways line of couples (lady on the man’s right) facing another, similar line.

    * * *

A1:   Ladies chain across the set, ladies chain back.

A2:   Continue into a Hey (reel of four) across the set (in the middle, pass by left shoulders)…  and back.


B1:   Allemande left shadow (from the adjacent minor set) ½ around.  If at an end, your shadow is opposite.
Return to Swing partner (buzz step, ballroom hold).

B2:   Right and Left thru’ with the couple on your left diagonal - as a flourish, ladies can finish by twirling Cw. under their man’s left arm as he rotates ¾ Ccw..  A top couple and a bottom couple remain in position and wait-out these four bars.
Right and left thru’ with the couple across the set.  (Everyone’s ‘progressed’ Cw..)



Dr Bluhm’s Delight

Author:   Rick Mohr


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5Okqiiiiys

Form:   Becket Contra lines.  Minor sets that are adjacent crossways could align themselves with each other - allowing wavy lines to be extended.

    * * *

A1:   In fours, circle left three places.  Men return to place with their neighbor.  (Optionally, then, since the lady’s on the man’s left, he could twirl her Ccw. into:)
Swing neighbor.

A2:   Lines (lady on the right) forward and back (some ‘end’ couples may be waiting-out).
Left hands across to star Ccw. - men cross-over sides & face back (½-turn).  Ladies continue to circle a further ¾-turn to their neighbor.  The four form a wavy line (partners face the same way).


B1:   Balance the Wave, ladies release their l. h., so that neighbors can Allemande right two-thirds Cw., the man meets a man from his adjacent, minor set, men who are waiting-out rejoin by the l. h..  (4 bars)
‘Balance’ (neighbor, then men towards each other).
Men Allemande left ¾ (Ccw.) to return for “right hand to partner".  (4 bars)
Ejected couples rejoin.

B2:   ‘Balance’ partner, then left.  (2)
Swing partner.  (6)
End couples may now need to wait-out a ‘go’.



Chinese New Year

Author:   Chris Page


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcpi3Via1t8

Music:   Farewell to the Taliban.

Form:   Longways lines.  ‘1’s Improper.

Prep.:   Men face out - so forming a longways wavy line.

    * * *

A1:   Balance the longways Wave,
Box circulate,
Balance the Wave,
Box circulate.

A2:   Balance the Wave,
Box circulate round to …
Swing Partner.


B1:   Circle left three places,
Swing Neighbor.

B2:   Long lines forward and back,
Square thru’ to long waves.



Chuck the Budgie

Author:   Rick Mohr


Watch at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KevQxr-saFw

Music:   Perpetual e-Motion - Flying Tent.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands four from the top.  ‘1’s improper (change places with partner).  Minor sets that happen to be adjacent crossways could align themselves with each other - allowing wavy lines to be extended.

    * * *

A1:   Men forward across the set and Allemande left a half-turn.
They go back to “Swing your neighbor".

A2:   (Still with neighbor)  Hold hands in fours, circle left three places to “Swing your partner".


B1:   Re-form longways lines, go “forward and back".
Ladies Allemande right 1¼ turns.  Still holding right hands, "Raise left to your neighbor" - to "form a wavy line".

B2:   Balance the Wave
Ladies release r. hands and Allemande left ¾ around their neighbor to meet a new neighbor, and, without releasing left hands, make a longways, wavy line.  (4 bars)  (Men have progressed one place left, ladies one place right.)
Longways Balance the line:   (new neighbor first, then left).
Everyone releases their l. hand, and Allemande right their new neighbor ½ around.  (4)  End couples turn-back - as a couple - and wait-out a ‘go’.

Restart:   men across to Allemande left…



Hay/Hey in the Barn

Author:   Chart Guthrie


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/J-cOGs9rCXw

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands four from the top.  Improper (first couple) - essentially symmetrical (i.e. ‘1’s and ‘2’s do exactly the same - but moving in the opposite direction).

    * * *

A1:   Neighbors two-handed balance & swing.  (8)

A2:   Ladies chain across to their partner.  (4)
Continue smoothly into a Half-hey, start with ladies passing right shoulders.  (Men end-up crossed-over, ladies end-up on their ‘home’ side.)  (4)


B1:   Partners balance & swing.  (8)

B2:   Ladies chain across.  (Everyone’s crossed-over.)  (4)
Half-hey, ladies pass right shoulders to start.  After men pass each other in the middle, by the right shoulder, they veer to their right to cut-the-corner and progress-on to meet a new neighbor.  (4)

On reaching an end, turn-back - as a couple, and wait-out a turn.



Love at First Swing

Author:   Bob Isaacs


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/hxUxb7ONcqA
and:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUvT6O-rq08

Form:   Contra, Becket longways lines.  The progression is Cw. (effectively).

    * * *

A1:   Form lines of four across the set, facing down.  Advance four steps forward.  (2 bars)
The ladies, only holding hands with the inner man, curl round in front of him:   the ‘outside’ lady (r. h.) arches, the ‘inside’ lady ducks (remember the order after crossing rows at the ends) under it - pulling the man to half-turn Cw..  (2)
Four steps back.  (2)  ‘Outsides’ curl inward - dragging the line into a circle of four.  (The ladies returning to their man’s right.)  (2)

A2:   Keeping hands joined, balance in, lean back, release hands and Petronella turn (rotate ¾ Cw., while also moving Ccw. into the next position round), ‘clap-clap’…
Repeat.


B1:   Balance in, lean back, California twirl(This figure produces the Cw. progression).
Meet and swing the new person facing along the set.  (End couples need to turn-back - as a pair - and wait-out a turn.)

B2:   In fours, circle left (Cw.) three places.  (The man, since his partner is on his left, can then optionally twirl her Ccw. into:)
Swing partner.



Simplicity Swing

Author:   Becky Hill

Watch at:   https://youtu.be/X6t9qAaAPG4

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands four from the top.  1’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Balance neighbor.
Swing neighbor. (Optionally, twirl lady Cw. into:)  (6 bars)

A2:   Circle left three places, (man could then optionally twirl his partner Ccw. into:)
Swing partner.


B1:   Longways lines forward and back, stomp.  (4)
Ladies Chain - partner crosses sides.  (4)

B2:   Star Ccw. - holding left wrist of person in front - a turn.  (4)
Peel-off to do-si-do (with an optional twirl) around new neighbor.  (4)
or, if reached an end, swap rows and wait-out a ‘turn’ (or swing one’s partner instead).



Benton


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/mM5vNzFxxBs

Music:   Benton’s Hallucinations.

Form:   Becket lines.

    * * *

A1:   Men Allemande left a half-turn with the opposite man.  (3 bars)
Swing partner.  (5)

A2:   In fours, holding hands, circle left around.  (4)
Couples jink left along the line to pass around their neighbors, jink right to pass thru’ (men in the middle) their advancing, new neighbors (or, if ejected at an end, the couple turn-back together and Allemande right with the following couple, then wait-out a turn - until the next ‘jink thru'’).  (4)


B1:   Allemande right ½-turn with the subsequent, advancing couple (or, if ejected at an end, Allemande right partner), and return to the new neighbors.  (4)
Swing that neighbor.  (4)

B2:   Longways lines go forward three steps, tap & back.  (4)
Ladies Allemande right (1¼ turns) the opposite lady - returning to their partner.  (4)



Rock the Cradle, Joe

Author:   Ridge Kennedy


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/fN4rJGBFJ9M  (Caller: Darlene Underwood)

Music:   Turnpike Warrior.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  Couple facing couple… (symmetrical - effectively couple ‘1’ will be ‘improper’).  In fours, form a crossways, wavy line - ladies overlap in the middle.  Minor sets that are adjacent crossways could align themselves - allowing wavy lines to be extended.

    * * *

A1:   Balance the Wave. (2 bars)
Roll (Cw.) across to the right, in front of your ‘neighbor’.  (2)
Back in wavy lines, balance to the left, then right.  (2)
Roll (Ccw.) back left - in front of ‘neighbor’.  (2)

A2:   Taking two hands with ‘neighbor’, lean back, pull together and swing.  Finish in two, facing, longways lines.  (8)


B1:   Lines forward, taking hands with partner, the man pulls his partner back to his side for a swing.  (8)

B2:   With the lady on her partner’s right, in fours, circle left three places into…  (4)
…a wavy line of four (ladies overlap in the centre) holding hands across the set.
Balance the wave, lean back and pull through (optional twirl) to meet an approaching couple with whom to form a new, crossways, wavy line.  (4)  (…or, if at an end, turn-back - as a couple - and wait-out a turn.)



Expert Bits

Author:   Peter Stix


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/NsV-eqS8Fk4

Music:   Perpetual e-Motion - Eleanor Rigby.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   take hands in fours from the top.  ‘1’s will be ‘improper’.  Couple-faces-couple…, nudge right slightly and form a crossways, wavy line - men overlap in the middle.  Minor sets that are adjacent crossways could align themselves with each other - allowing wavy lines to be extended.
The eventual progression for couples is forward - along the major set.

    * * *

A1:   Balance the Wave  (2 bars), men roll/twirl Cw. towards their right (in front of the other man) - back to partner  (2 bars), swing partner.  (4 bars)

A2:   Ladies Chain across  (4), ladies cross/pull-thru by the right  (2), Allemande left partner ¾ into a crossways wavy line - still with partner and with ladies overlapping in the middle…  (2)


B1:   Balance the Wave,  (2), ladies twirl across to their right  (2), swing neighbor.  (4)

B2:   Couples cross the set (ladies meet by the left with a ¼ turn), to form a crossways wavy line (2), Balance the Wave right & left (2), pull forward (and slightly to the right) to the next neighbors (if at an end, turn-back - as a couple - and wait-out a ‘go’),
Allemande left a full-turn into a crossways Wave - men overlap in the middle…  (4)

Repeat.



Fiddler’s Fling

by Cary Ravitz


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-vLYUngnz8

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top, ‘1’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Neighbors balance and swing  (8 bars).

A2:   Men step forward and to the right to ‘mad robin’ around their neighbor  (4).  Ladies pull their partner to poussette ½ around their neighbors  (4).


B1:   With the other couple, men take left hands while ladies take right hands, other hand to partner, to make a gypsy star (men go slightly backwards).  Turn the star 3 places Cw.  (4).  Partner swing  (4).

B2:   Right and left thru’ across  (4).  Ladies’ chain across - continuing on to meet the next neighbor  (4).  End couples change places and wait-out.



Heartbeat Contra

Author:   Don Flaherty


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/K8Z2hYA1s6I

Music:   35s: C.R. Logston - a *Highlanders’ Farewell jam;  33s: Perpetual e-Motion - Bridge the Gap;  32s: La Bottine Souriante - Sheepskin and Beeswax;  30s: Giant Robot Dance - Sheepskin & Beeswax.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  ‘1’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Balance the Ring.  (2 bars)
Petronella twirl ¾ Cw. diagonally to the right, clap-clap.  (2)
Repeat.  (4)

A2:   Balance the Ring  (2), … (then optionally, the lady can twirl Ccw. under neighbor’s l. arm into:)
Swing Neighbor.  (6)


B1:   Ladies Gypsy around once or they meet two-handed and either swing or they push apart and one lady raises l. hand for the other to rotate ½ Ccw. under (so both face the same way).  Closely-linked, with the twirler on the right, they both rotate Cw. …  or do something!  (4)
Swing Partner.  (4)

B2:   Holding hands, Circle left three places.  (4)
Balance (still in a ring).  (2)
California Twirl partner (to face new, oncoming neighbors).  (2)
…or, if at an end, turn-back as a couple, and wait-out a turn.



There and Back Again

Author:   Heather Carmichael


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/-OYxzs9BnPQ

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  ‘1’s improper.  Start in cross-ways wavy lines - ladies overlap in the middle.  Minor sets that are adjacent crossways could align themselves - allowing wavy lines to be extended.

    * * *

A1:   Balance the Wave (2 bars), Twirl Cw. right.  (2 bars)
Catching neighbor to Allemande Left 1½.  (4) returning (behind) to:

A2:   Previous neighbor Balance meet double-handed, push-back to a single-handed (man’s right) lean-back & swing  (2, 6) or man raises left arm, lady twirls-in ½ Ccw. (to his right) and, wrapped in a two-handed clinch, they rotate Cw. together.  Eventually the lady is released to twirl-out Cw..


B1:   Circle left three places.  (4)  Partner (since his partner’s on his left - the man could twirl her Ccw. into:) swing.  (4)

B2:   Hold hands (partner and neighbor) in circles of four, Balance the Ring.  (2), and ladies pass as they cross through to form a wavy-line with original neighbors (from A1).  (2)
Balance the wave  (2) and pull forward to a new neighbor.  (2)  Progress is:   back one couple, and forward two.  End couples need to remain alert!



Coconut Cream Pie

A variation on “Apple Pie Quadrille" by Ron Beeson

Author:   Lynn Ackerson


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02tHRtMTO74

Music:   The Great Bear Trio - *Garbage in A.

Form:   Lines comprising two adjacent, crossways couples facing two crossways couples, i.e. four facing four (Quadrille).

    * * *

A1:   Lines of four, Forward and Back  (4).  Center four Right Hand Star  (4)…
…while ‘ends’ do ‘whatever they want’.

A2:   Partner, Allemande Left c. 1¼  (4).  New center four Right Hand Star  (4)…
…new ‘ends’ do ‘whatever they want’.


B1:   Balance meet double-handed, push-back to a single-handed (man’s right) lean-back & Swing Partner  (2, 6).

B2:   As a group of eight, Circle Left ½  (4), Balance Ring (pull-in, stomp, etc.)  (2), California Twirl Partner to turn to face a new line of four.  (2)  The progression is forward - but everyone has swapped lines…  unless at an end - where a pair of couples turn-back and wait-out a turn.



Box the Gnat Contra

Author:   Becky Hill


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/24fwMiIUxF4

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  ‘1’s improper.  Face neighbor.

    * * *

A1:   Right-handed Balance neighbor (along the line), ‘Box the Gnat’ with neighbor.
Face across, right-handed Balance partner, ‘Box the Gnat’ (end-up crossed-over diagonally).

A2:   Double-handed Balance & Swing neighbor.


B1:   Face across, ladies Allemande by the right - one complete turn.
Swing Partner.

B2:   Cross sides by Passing thru’ to the left of neighbor, ‘Swat the Flea’ (by the left, the lady twirls Cw. under her neighbor’s left arm) - ready to:
Ladies chain across, ending with a ‘Swat the Flea’ again, to face along the line to progress to new neighbors.

Repeat…  or, if at an end, Box the Gnat twice and balance & swing partner, then wait-out B1 & B2 and change places and designation.



Mad Mad World

Author:   Martha Wild


Watch at:   https://youtu.be/qHscaBxLW5c

Music:   *On the Danforth.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  ‘1’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Lines forward & back.
Mad Robin (sideways do-si-do, ladies cross in front first) with new neighbor.  At ends, turnround - as a couple - and wait-out a turn, rejoin at next A1.

A2:   Ladies cross - passing to the right - to partner.
Gypsy once around partner.
Swing partner.


B1:   Couples Pass through (to the left of neighbor) across the set.
California twirl.
Mad Robin (men first) with partner.

B2:   Men cross - passing to the right.
Gypsy once around neighbor.
Swing neighbor.  (Finish with lady on right.)



Joel’s In The Kitchen

Author:   Sue Rosen


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk_uEyEIgFs  or:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czf6_4AUTAI

Music:   34s: Mean Lids - Trip to Pakistan/La Sansonette, Michael Daves - 28th of January;  32s: Hotpoint String Band - Haphazard Breakdown.

Form:   Becket Contra lines.

    * * *

A1:   Long Lines Forward and Back.  (4)
Ladies Chain - ending as a circle of four.  (4)

A2:   Balance the Ring).  (2)  Twirl one place to the right (as in Petronella).  (2)
Repeat.  (4)


B1:   Balance the Ring.  (2)
Cross thru' the set (pass to the left of partner);  then, along the line, pass-thru’ (to the right of neighbor - men down the center).  (2)
Swing the new neighbor.  (4) or, if at an end, swing partner, and wait-out…  or swing new neighbor to re-join.

B2:   Circle left three places (ladies cross sides).  (4) (the lady’s on the man’s left - so, then, optionally, he can twirl his partner Ccw. into:)
Swing Partner.  (4)



The Amazing Sarah Wilcox

Author:   Tom Hinds


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQHzh83-SAI

Music:   The Squid, The Seagull.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.  Reverse progression.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  ‘2’s improper (‘1’s progress ‘upwards’).

    * * *

A1:   Circle left three places  (4 bars), swing Partner.  (4)

A2:   Circle left three places  (4), swing Neighbor.  (4)


B1:   Lines Forward & Back.  (4)
Chain (across first) three around (R-L-R i.e. partner-neighbor-partner).  (4)

B2:   Facing out in long lines, or, if waiting-out, re-join the line.:   hold hands at chest height to balance (lean/slide, tap) towards neighbor, then previous neighbor,  (2) lady rolls across, two-handed, to her left) (in front of her neighbor) to a new neighbor.  (2) (or, if at an and, to partner.)
Balance towards new neighbor, then neighbor,  (2) end couples balance partner…
California twirl new neighbor - to all face-in.  (2) end coupes wait-out a ‘go’



3-33 (“Three Thirty-Three”)

Author:   Steve Zakon-Anderson


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e4SoZZ-_cc

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top.  ‘1’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Take right hands with neighbor, balance and pull-by,  (2 bars, 1 bar)  If at an end, balance person opposite (i.e. partner) and continue round the corners (men Cw., ladies Ccw.).
Pull-by left with #2 neighbor,  (1)
Take right hands with #3 neighbor, balance and Box the Gnat.  (2, 2)

Facing-back:

A2:   Pull-by right #3 neighbor,  (1)
pull-by left #2 neighbor,  (1)
Swing original neighbor. (6)  If left at an end, turnround - as a couple, wait-out during B1-B2, until continuing normally at the subsequent A1.


B1:   Circle left three places,  (3)
Swing Partner.  (5)

B2:   Long lines (Becket) go forward and back,  (4)
Ladies swap sides with a do-si-do 1¼-times around each other - with a Ccw. twirl  (4) … to restart with r. hand to neighbor.



Uplift

Author:   Chris Page


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkoHYsye8xM  (but executed haphazardly.)

Form:   Becket Contra lines.

    * * *

A1:   Circle left three places,
Swing neighbor.

A2:   Long lines forward and back,
Ladies chain across.


B1:   Ladies Chain diagonally left to a neighboring man (who’ll shortly be their new neighbor - so, starting the ‘progression’), (4)
Balance the Ring, (2)
Petronella turn (¾ Cw.). (2)

B2:   Balance the ring, (2)
Men roll away c. 1¼ turns Cw. (- twirl, if inclined) their ‘shadow’ to their right… (2)
…all return to partner and Swing.



Mange Tak  (“Many Thanks”)

Author:   Ron Buchanan


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnGW9fGvIw4

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours.  ‘2’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Two-handed balance and swing new neighbor.  (8)

A2:   Couples cross the set - thru’ (to the left of) oncoming partner, to form a wavy line across the set.  (2)
Balance the Wave (facing neighbor).  (2)
Allemande neighbor r. ½ around, men pull-across the set by l..  (2)
Allemande partner r. ¼.  (2)


B1:   Along the line (to ‘shadow’), Allemande l. ½.  (3)  If at an end, Allemande person opposite  i.e. still your ‘shadow’.
Along the line, return to swing partner.  (5)

B2:   Couples cross thru’ neighbors (ladies pass each other by the left), to form a wavy line.  (2)
Balance the Wave (facing partner).  (2)
Allemande partner r. ½, men pull-across by l..  (2)
Allemande neighbor r. ½.  (2)
Progress along the line to…
repeat (balance & swing new neighbor).  (At ends, change designation and wait-out a turn.)



Pedal Pushers

by Bob Dalsemer


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqnoHv9ASZI (at ContraCopia)

Music:   34s: Buddy System - Breakwall;  32s:   Graham Townsend - Pop Corn Reel.

Form:   Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:   Take hands in fours from the top, ‘1’s improper.

    * * *

A1:   Two men allemande left once (and-a-bit) around.  Continuing in-hold, they pick up their partner around her waist, bring her back to man’s side (6 bars), wheel around as a couple - man backing - once (Ccw.) (2).

A2:   Two ladies walk around each other (gypsy) Cw., return to partner, swing partner, end-up facing across in a circle of four.


B1:   Balance the Circle (2), pass thru' (by the right shoulder) (2), turn individually, to the right and, in groups of four, walk/promenade (single) three places around (back to place) (3).  Men turn to face neighbor (1).

B2:   Two-handed balance forward, stomp, back, stomp… and swing departing neighbor.  End couples change places and wait-out a turn.



Salute to Larry Jennings  (variant)

by Ted Sannella and Russell Owen


Watch at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMrprJLONTA

Music:   34s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - The Primrose Lass;  33s: Sam Bartlett - Mary Devlin’s.

Form:   Becket Contra lines i.e. a longways line of couples (lady on the man’s right) facing another, similar line.

Preparation:   -

    * * *

A1:   In fours, circle left three places.
Do-si-do neighbor.

A2:   Facing neighbor, three R-L pull-bys (at the ends, continue around - as if the set is a squashed circle…  men go Cw.).  Turn fourth person, with the left hand, half around.  Continue R-L back to neighbor.


B1:   Swing neighbor.

B2:   Meet partner, two-handed…  man takes lady back to his side…  and they swing.

Make a new circle of four with the next couple diagonally to the left.  Ejected end couples wait-out (but could try A1 with partner and risk joining-in for A2).





Flourishes - Twirling
Hands are held loosely - allowing relative rotation.
The couple face each other with:





Suggested Contra Tracks  (mainly 32-bar)

37s: Becky Tracy - Arizona/Trion;
36s: We Banjo 3 - Good Time, Old Time;
35s: Perpetual e-Motion - Vladi on the Trans-Siberian, Cluck Old Hen, Mean Lids - Midnight Wander;
34s: The Great Bear Trio - *Benton’s Hallucinations, The Gardener, Flook - *Larry …/Elzic’s Farewell, George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Merriweather/Sally Ann Johnson set, Buddy System - Acorn Stomp … , Firecloud - Smith Mountain/High Avalanche Danger, Michael Daves - *The 28th January, Hotpoint Stringband - *Bus Stop Reel, Mean Lids - Feel the Bubbles/Sally in the Garden, Trip to Pakistan, Máiréad Nesbitt – *The Butterfly Reel, Skidoo;
33s: Tidal Wave (Contra Quebecois) - Reel à Bruce/Reel De Terrebonne/Reel Du Nord, Perpetual e-Motion - Bridge the Gap, Turnpike Warrior/Mom/Kandahar set, The Great Bear Trio - *The Randomanians, Jenny’s Groove, Andrew and Noah Band - Cascade/Dial Pancake, Hotpoint Stringband - Big John MacNeil/Elzic’s Farewell set, Jeff City/Dolly McFadden’s Favorite/… set, Nightingale - Ballygow/The Bus Stop/MacDoalds, Come Along Jody/… Dog, Genticorum - Reel Circulaire, Stringdancer - Bad Axe Breakdown, Vitamin String Quartet - Billie Jean;
32s: Perpetual e-Motion - Sandy Boys/Beth Cohen’s set, The Great Bear Trio - Contra Dance, The Hat Thief, Lake City/The Monarch (30s), George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Mad River/…/Hey Little Girl set, Andrew and Noah (Van Norstrand) Band - *Elusive Goose, Cascade/Dial Pancake, Toss the Possum - Blackberry Blossom, Elzic’s Farewell, Hanneke Cassel - *Dot the Dragon’s Eyes, The Lost and Nameless Orchestra - Dizzy Molly/… Delaney/… McNeil, The Dam Beavers - *Dirt, Kaiser Family - Hey Little Girl/Hangman’s Reel, Tom Adler & Co. (incl. Rob Pine) - Sweet Nell, Hotpoint Stringband - Juneteenth/Opera Reel, Warsaw/*Haphazard Breakdown set, The Gothard Sisters - *Against the Grain!, Béla Fleck - *Frosty Morning, Mean Lids - Glory Box, Chattanooga, Tidal Wave (Contra Music Of Quebec) - Set des Frères Pigeon/Répertoire Gerard Lajoie/Reel St Michel, Quadrille De Beauharnois/Reel Américain/Reel De Bergeville, Vitamin String Quartet or Taylor Davis - *Thriller, Organic Strings or Alexandr Misko - Billie Jean;
31s: The Great Bear Trio - *Garbage in A, Buddy System - *Ride the Wheel, Mean Lids - Waterbound, Firecloud - *Sandy Boys/… , Nova - Snow Boots, Toss the Possum - Catharsis, Nightingale - *Barter's Hill/Lucy Campbell, The Green Lads - Pop, Perpetual e-Motion - *Eleanor Rigby;
30s: Blazin’ Fiddles - Pat The Budgie, The Great Bear Trio - Rec Hall/Redstone Reel/Allen Street, Giant Robot Dance - Sheepskin & Beeswax, The Green Lads - Road to Errogie, Perpetual e-Motion - Greasy Coat/Sally Ann.

Electro/Techno (rarely structured as a regular 32 bars - so trickier to call to than conventional contra music where the phrasing is more distinct.)
34s: Firecloud - Smith Mountain/High Avalanche Danger, DR Shadow (Benjamin Smith) - Hills;
33s: Perpetual e-Motion - Bridge the Gap, DR Shadow - First Chance;
32s: Perpetual e-Motion - *Flying Tent, DR Shadow - *Glory in the House, Midnight, Drop, In the Bucket, Cluck This, Firecloud - *Eyeball Tacos, Twister, Niteworks - Beul Na H Oidhche;
31s: Firecloud - *Get Serious, Niteworks - Highlanders’ Farewell;
29s: Jaydee - Plastic Dreams.



Arcadian (’Cajun) dance

Music tempo: c. 95 beats per minute.

Like for so many dances, the chasée forms the basis of Cajun dancing.

Something simple to start: man chasées slightly forward and to the left then chasées right; lady follows him:   she back-chasées right, followed by back-chasée left - anticlockwise around the floor.

Two-Step footwork - in 4/4 time, all shuffle steps, upper body relatively stiff.
The man moves his left foot diagonally left (the lady moves her right foot diagonally back), close the right to the left, move left foot diagonally left, close the right to the left (or slightly behind the left) with a tap (or kick diagonally to the right); change direction, move diagonally right with the right foot, close the left to the right, diagonally right, close left to right with a tap/kick-left. (8 beats)

Lady’s twirl:   man spreads legs, couple two-handed lean back, pull together, then the lady twirls Cw. under man’s left arm…  or Ccw. under his right.

A fun variation:   (footwork is simply two-step.)  Starting face-to-face (perhaps after completing a lady’s Ccw. spin), the lady holds the man’s right hand with her left and she rotates half Ccw. to the left of her partner so that she’s standing beside him, facing the same way, on his right, with her left arm wrapped in front of her.  He places his left hand behind his back so that his partner can hold it with her right (wrapped in front of her).  They’re now side-by-side, both holding each other’s hands - right to left.  Still holding his partner’s r. hand, the man then releases his r. hand so that he can twirl once Ccw., passing in front of her.  They end-up side-by-side again - but now he’s on the lady’s right.  She holds her left hand behind her back and he wraps his right in front (across) of him so that he can hold it.  Continue ad infinitum.


Cajun Music
42s: The Cajun All-Stars - Cousin Lilly, Lost Bayou Ramblers or Lee Benoit - Bosco Stomp;  40s: Lost Bayou Ramblers - Bayou Perdu;  39s: Jesse Lege and Friends - Mamou Hot Step;  36s: The Balfa Brothers - Indian On A Stomp.




Sample Programme (novice level, eclectic, duration: circa 4 hours)