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Contra is a community dance form that's been generating joy for more than two centuries, and it's still evolving today. Most dances feature live Celtic or folk-fusion music with influences from jazz to rock, but on occasion we break out the glow sticks and EDM. Some bands blend trad and techno styles live.

Contra is as simple as walking: the only footwork is a simple forward-and-back step called a "balance.” Instead, figures rely on different hand holds or eye contact between dancers, at a gently aerobic pace of about 60 strides per minute. Many dances are preceded by a beginner session teaching basic figures.

Arrive alone or in a flock of friends! Dancers often choose a new partner for each contra. Join a double line of dancers, taking "hands four" with this partner and a pair of "neighbors," and you're ready to begin.

A caller will walk you through the sequence and, once the music starts, prompt the figures several times through. The sequence is repeated every 30 seconds, so it's easy to memorize, and you dance with new neighbors each time. After perhaps eight minutes, the dance will end, and dancers will line up again.

Pictures are better than words at conveying what we do, and videos are worth even more: here are a few of my favorite YouTube links to show contradancers in action.

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