Contras (New England)


Last updated:  November, 2020

Proponents of Contra-dance cite its advantages as:

Since Contra doesn’t involve any taxing, energetic figures e.g. galoping down 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, which can all be embellished by flamboyant twirling… or, for unashamed ostentatiousness: the “dip”, (where the man tucks a leg behind his lady’s right.  She rotates her trunk slightly Ccw., he supports her back or cradles the back of her neck with his left hand and, leaning forward, taking her weight with his right arm around her waist - her right hand around his shoulders - gently lowers her backwards, horizontally, over his thigh…   “Kick that lovely leg!”.  A ‘back-breaker’ - not for the novice.)

But ultimately, Contra doesn’t offer quite the variety - the ‘cherries’ - afforded by figures such as ‘Strip the Willow’, ‘Dip & 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 (meet two-handed, stomp, push-back, stomp), & 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.  ‘1’s improper.  Each couple faces another couple.

Suspended, wood-board flooring enhances stomping.


A1:   Balance & Swing 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)
Ladies chain across the set (optional Cw. twirl).  (4)

B2:   Longways lines forward and balance (meet partner by the right hand, 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, turn-around - 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…  & 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) returning to…  If at an end, your shadow is the opposite person.
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-hand side) forward and back.
Left hands across to star Ccw. ½-turn - men cross-over sides (spin Ccw. once) & face back.  Ladies continue to circle a further ¾-turn to their neighbor with whom they form a wavy line i.e. they face in alternate directions.


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, men acknowledge each other before…  (2)
Swing partner.  (6)
Slip/progress left along the line slightly.  End couples 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. 

Prep.:  Hands four from the top.  ‘1’s improper.  Form a longways wavy line, men face out - right hand to neighbor.


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

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


B1:   Circle left three places,
Swing Neighbor.

B2:   Long lines forward & back,
Square thru’ into longways waves.



Chuck the Budgie

Author:  Rick Mohr


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

Music:  35s: Perpetual e-Motion - *Flying Tent;  34s: Great Bear - The *Randomanians.

Forms:  Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:  Take hands four from the top.  ‘2’s improper (change places with partner), and for who the progression is ‘downwards’.  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,  (3 bars)
returning to “Swing your neighbor”.  (5 bars)

A2:   Hold hands in fours, circle left three places to’… (4 bars)
Swing your partner”  (4 bars).


B1:   Re-form longways lines, go “forward and back”,
Ladies Allemande right 1½ around.  Still holding right hands, “Raise left to your neighbor” - to form a wavy line.

B2:   Balance the Wave,  (2 bars)
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.  (2 bars)
Balance the line right (new neighbor) then left).  (2 bars)
Everyone releases their l. hand, and Allemande right their new neighbor ½ around.  (2 bars)  End couples turn-back - as a couple - and wait-out a ‘go’.

Restart:  men forward to Allemande left…



Crow Flight

by Rick Mohr

Watch at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rmkCOobA60

Form:  Longways.

Prep.:  Hands four.  ‘1’s improper.  Form a longways wavy line, ladies facing into the set, men facing outwards.


A1:   Balance the line, twirl right ("Rory O’More" spin), past the first person to a new neighbor,
Swing neighbor.

A2:   Circle left three places,
Men pass their partner by the right to lead a ½-Hey across.


B1:   Balance & Swing partner.

B2:   Men Allemande left 1½ around,
Allemande right neighbor once around - back into a longways wavy line.



Enchanted

by Cary Ravitz

Watch at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Nlh9wXS0Cc

Tunes:  32s: Lift Ticket - Gobby-O and Coffee

Form:  Becket, Ccw. progression.


A1:   Circle left three places,  (4)
Ladies lead a ½-Hey, starting by passing left.  (4)

A2:   Neighbors Balance & swing.  (8)


B1:   Long lines go forward, partners gypsy ½-way round, long lines reverse back, (1+2+1)
Hands acrosss to Star left three places.  (4)

B2:   Ladies Allemande right with the next lady, to…  (2)
return to Swing partner.  (6)



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.  ‘1’s improper.


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

A2:   Ladies chain across to their partner.  (4)
Continue smoothly into a ½-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)
½-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://youtu.be/fUvT6O-rq08

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

Prep.:  Form lines of four across the set, everyone facing down.


A1:   Lines advance four steps down,  (2 bars)
ladies, holding hands with the inner man only, curl round in front of him:  the ‘outside’ lady (his r. h. side) arches, the ‘inside’ lady ducks (remember the order after crossing rows at the ends) under it - turning the man half-Cw.,  (2)
four steps forward (returning),  (2)
‘Outsides’ curl inward - dragging the line into a circle of four.  (The ladies return to their partner’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’…  (4)
Repeat.


B1:   Balance in, lean back, California twirl(This figure produces the Cw. progression.)
meet and swing the next neighbor 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 lady could optionally twirl Ccw. under her partner’s arm - ready to:)
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 & swing neighbor.  (8)  (Optionally, twirl lady Cw. into… )

A2:   Circle left three places, (man could then optionally twirl his partner Ccw. into… )  (3)
Swing partner.  (Lady could twirl Cw. into… )  (5)


B1:   Longways lines forward, stomp, & back, stomp,  (4)
Ladies Chain across.  (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).



The Last Resort

by Kathy Anderson


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

Music:  34s: Great Bear - Benton’s Hallucinations.

Form:  Becket lines. Cw. progression.


A1:   In fours, holding hands, circle ¾ left.  (4)
Couples Weave the Line  (If ejected at an end, the couple turn-back, as a pair, and Allemande right with the following couple, then wait-out a turn - until the next ‘Weave’.)  (4)

A2:   Allemande right with the subsequent, advancing neighbor (or, if ejected at an end, Allemande right partner), to return to the new neighbor,  (4)
Swing that neighbor.  (4)


B1:   Longways lines go forward & back,  (4)
Ladies Allemande right 1¼ turns - returning to their partner.  (4)

B2:   Men Allemande left (ladies could loop Cw.),  (3 bars)
Swing partner.  (5)



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.  ‘1’s ‘improper’.  With couple-facing-couple, nudge slightly left to form a crossways, wavy line - ladies 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/Spin (Cw.) across to the right, in front of your ‘neighbor’,  (2)
Back in wavy lines, balance to the left, then right,  (2)
Spin back left (Ccw.) - in front of ‘neighbor’.  (2)

A2:   Taking two hands with ‘neighbor’, lean back, pull together and swing.  Finish in 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 in the center) 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 ‘improper’.  With couple-facing-couple, nudge slightly right to form a crossways, wavy line - men 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/spin 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 (facing partner) - ladies in the middle…  (2)


B1:   Balance the Wave,  (2)
Ladies spin Cw. 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,  (2)
Pull forward (and slightly to the right) to the next neighbors,  (2)  (If at an end, turn-back - as a couple - and wait-out a ‘go’.)
Allemande left a full-turn into a crossways wave - men in the middle…  (4)


Fiddler’s Fling

by Cary Ravitz


Watch at:  https://youtu.be/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 ‘mad robin’ to the right around their neighbor,  (4)
Ladies pull their partner to poussette ½ around their neighbor.  (4)


B1:   Neighboring couples make a gypsy star (ladies take right hands across while men take left hands - other hand to partner).  Turn the star three places Cw. (men go slightly backwards),  (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:  36s: Sam Bartlett - Mary Devlin’s;  35s: C. R. Logston - a *Highlanders’ Farewell jam;  34s: Pete’s Posse - The Echo, Flook - Larry Out the Bin/Elzic’s… ;  32s: Perpetual e-Motion - Bridge the Gap, La Bottine Souriante - Sheepskin and 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 could twirl Ccw. under neighbor’s l. arm into:
Swing Neighbor.  (6)


B1:   Ladies Gypsy around once…  or do something!  (4)  e.g. they could balance, push apart and, still holding both hands, one lady raises l. hand for the other to twirl-in ½ Ccw. (so both face the same way).  Closely-linked, with the twirlee on the right, hands at waist height, they slowly rotate Cw. together,
Swing Partner.  (4)

B2:   Holding hands, Circle left three places,  (4)
Balance the ring,  (2)
California Twirl partner to turn-about and face new 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), slide or Spin Cw. to the right,  (2 bars)
Catching neighbor to Allemande Left 1½.  (4) returning (behind) to:

A2:   Balance & swing previous neighbor  (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)
(since his partner’s on his left - the man could twirl her Ccw. into:)
Swing partner.  (4)

B2:   Hold hands (with partner and neighbor) in circles of four, Balance the Ring,  (2)
Ladies pass as they cross through and couples form a wavy-line with their original neighbors (from A1),  (2)
Balance the wave,  (2)
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 (Quadrille), i.e. each minor set comprises four-facing-four people.


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

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


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 the Ring (pull-in, stomp, etc.),  (2)
California Twirl partner to turn-about and 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 and: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vt8ppsd-ZU - Barefoot with Mary Wesley

Form:  Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.  Duple, ‘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 with a ‘right (to neighbor) & left thru'’ (or right &‘Swat the Flea’) with partner - ready to:
Ladies chain across, ending with a ‘Swat the Flea’ to progress along the line to new neighbor.

Repeat…  or, if at an end, do A1 & A2 (but with 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 with new neighbor.  At ends, turn-around - 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 partner,
Mad Robin (men first, Cw.) with partner.

B2:   Men cross - passing to the right.
Gypsy once around neighbor…  into 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 across - ending as a circle of four.  (4)

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


B1:   Balance the Ring,  (2)
Cross thru’ the set (pass partner by the right);  then, along the line, pass-thru’ (to the right of approaching neighbor i.e. men down the center of the set),  (2)
Swing (no balance) the next neighbor.  (4) or, if at an end, swing partner, and wait-out…  or swing approaching, 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 three around (across first - R-L-R i.e. partner-neighbor-partner).  (4)

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



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.  Face neighbor.


A1:   Take right hands with neighbor, balance and pull-by right (men Cw., ladies Ccw.),  (2 bars, 1 bar)  If at an end, balance the opposite person then continue round the corners.
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, turn-around - as a couple, wait-out during B1-B2 … continue 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 1¼ Cw. do-si-do around each other - twirling Ccw.  (4) … to restart with r. hand to neighbor.



Uplift

Author:  Chris Page


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

Form:  Becket Contra lines.


A1:   Circle left three places,
Swing neighbor.

A2:   Long lines forward (stomp… ) & back,
Ladies chain across.


B1:   Ladies Chain across diagonally to the left 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 their ‘shadow’ along the line (to their right - c. 1¼ turns Cw.)… back to their partner,  (2)
Swing partner.



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 cross the set - passing by the left,  (3)
Allemande partner r. ¼.  (1)


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 across,  (2)
Facing partner, Balance the Wave,  (2)
Allemande partner r. ¼, men cross with an Allemande ¼ l.,  (2)
Allemande neighbor r. ¼,  (1)
Progress along the line to repeat with new neighbor.  (1)  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), as a couple, wheel around once (Ccw.- man backing).  (2)

A2:   Two ladies walk around each other (gypsy) ½ Cw., return to swing partner, end-up facing across in a circle of four.


B1:   Balance the Circle;  (2)
cross the set (passing neighbor by 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-back to face neighbor.  (1)

B2:   Two-handed Balance & swing departing neighbor.  End couples change places and wait-out a turn.



The Baby Rose

by David Kaynor


Watch at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1IcCDRtiBE

Form:  Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

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


A1:   Neighbor Balance & Swing,  (8)

A2:   Circle left 3 places,  (4)
Partner do-si-do.  (4)


B1:   Partner Balance & Swing,  (8)

B2:   Ladies chain to neighbor,  (4)
Star left - peeling off to face the next neighbor.  (4)



Salute to Larry Jennings  (variant)

by Ted Sannella and Russell Owen


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

Music:  36s: Sam Bartlett - Mary Devlin’s;  34s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - The Primrose Lass.

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.)½ Turn fourth person, with the left hand.  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 then risk joining-in for A2).



Slapping the Wood

by Don Flaherty


Watch at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4czDm3Jr4xk

Music:  Various artists - The Road to Errogie.

Form:  Longways lines of couples.  Duple minor.

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


A1:   Holding inside hands with partner, as a couple, do-si-do neighbors, swing neighbor.

A2:   Ladies chain across,
Everyone ½-Hey (ladies start by passing right shoulders) to cross sides.


B1:   Balance & swing partner.

B2:   Circle left three places,
Balance the Circle,  (2)
California twirl to turn-about and face new neighbors.  Ejected end couples change places and wait-out a turn.



Rock Creek Reel

by David Harris


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

Music:  Imperial March medley.

Form:  Longways.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.  Duple, ‘2’s improper.


A1:   Men forward to form a longways wave,  (2 bars)
balance right and left,  (2 bars)
ladies forward to a wave - as the men back out,  (2)
balance right and left.  (2)

A2:   Ladies allemande right - once around,  (4)
partner swing.


B1:   Down the hall in lines of four (six steps), turn-back as a couple,  (4)
return.  Outsides curl-round to… (4)

B2:   Circle left three places, neighbor swing.  (8)



Flourishes - Twirling

Hands are held loosely - allowing relative rotation.
The couple face each other - meeting:





Suggested Contra Tracks  (mainly 32-bar)

37s: Becky Tracy - Arizona/Trion;
36s: We Banjo 3 - Good Time, Old Time, The Fretless - MacLeod's Farewell/Palmer's Gate, Sam Bartlett - Mary Devlin’s;
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, Sam Bartlett - Mary Devlin’s, George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Merriweather/Sally Ann Johnson set, Buddy System - Acorn Stomp/Black … , Firecloud - Smith Mountain/High Avalanche Danger, Michael Daves - *The 28th January, Pete’s Posse - *The Echo, 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 - Turnpike Warrior/Mom/Kandahar set, The Great Bear Trio - *The Randomanians, Jenny’s Groove, Big Bandemonium - *Flying Tent (Keith Murphy’s), Hotpoint Stringband - Big John MacNeil/Elzic’s Farewell set, Jeff City/Dolly McFadden’s Favorite/… set, Pete’s Posse - The Bunny Tree, Nightingale - Ballygow/The Bus Stop/MacDonalds, 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/Julia Delaney/… McNeil, The Dam Beavers - *Dirt, Contranella - Downtown/Aquarius/…, *Esquimaux/New Year/… , 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 G!rain, 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, La Bottine Souriante - Sheepskin and Beeswax, The Fretless - *L'acteur/Ginger & Judah, Maybe Molly (not original’s title), 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, Andrew & Noah - Flying Cloud Cotillion/Que, 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, Pete’s Posse - Fine Times, 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: DR Shadow - First Chance;
32s: Perpetual e-Motion - *Flying Tent, Bridge the Gap, DR Shadow - *Glory in the House, Midnight, Drop, In the Bucket, Cluck This, Destiny, Firecloud - *Eyeball Tacos, Twister, Niteworks - Beul na h-Oidhche;
31s: Firecloud - *Get Serious, Niteworks - Highlanders’ Farewell.

Consider Contra tune recordings, FoC, direct from this index:  https://www.jefftk.com/p/a-complete-tune-index-of-contracast



Arcadian (’Cajun) dance

Music tempo: c. 95 beats per minute.

As for so many styles of dance, the chassé forms the basis of Cajun dancing.

Something simple to start: man chassés slightly forward and to the left then chassés right; lady follows him:  she back-chassés right, followed by back-chassé 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 across, in front 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: The Cajun All-Stars - *Newz Reel, Jesse Lege and Friends - Mamou Hot Step;
36s: The Balfa Brothers - Indian On A Stomp;
35s: Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy, D. L. Menard - Liberty.



Sample Programme (‘novice’ level, eclectic, circa 4-hour total duration)