Contra Dances

Asheville has a rich contra dance scene.  Within an 80 minute drive there are contra dances at 6 locations with dancing available about 160 days per year!  And over one hundred are available within minutes of Asheville!

Contra dancing is a community dance.  You dance with a partner, but dance partners change after each dance so one can come alone and find a partner!  Learning it is easy- a 30 minute lesson gets you started.   No fancy foot work- just walking!  You and a partner dance with other pairs of dancers, moving in time to the music, and magically find yourselves dancing with the next neighbor pair to do it again and again. It’s a concert where you don’t have to sit still, and it often feels like you are dancing with everyone in the room.  It is a safe, inclusive, and fun environment that results in a sore jaw from so much smiling!

Contra dancing draws from the style of dancing you have seen in the films Pride and Prejudice and Glory, has similarities to square dancing, often incorporates some swing dance moves, is danced to high energy live fiddle music, and has a bit of counter-culture feel to it.  Dancers range in age from 5 to 85, and often there are 200 of them on the dance floor!

Where can you find contra dancing? The oldest Asheville contra dance is sponsored by us, and is held every Thursday on the Warren Wilson campus about 9 miles from Asheville.  There is a dance in downtown Asheville almost every Monday evening at the Center for Art and Spirit at St George’s in Malvern Hills just off Patton Avenue, sponsored by another group.

Regular contra dances are held nearby in Jonesborough, TN and River Falls, SC.  Carpools to these dances make great opportunities to meet friends!

A special contra dance weekend, Splash Dance, is sponsored by the OFB.  It gives budding callers and musicians an opportunity to hone their skills while being mentored by some of Asheville’s great musicians and callers.

Links to local and regional contra dances above.

Here are some quotes from folks who are contra dancers, thinking back to their first experience with contra dancing.

  • “I can do that! They are just walking!”
  • “Contra Dance…was love at first dance.”
  • Smiles and holding hands, twirling to the music, dancing up and down a line of friendly folks!
  • “Even a wallflower with two left feet (like me) can do it!
  • “Me, dancing? Me, dancing!!!!!”
  • “I smiled so much my cheeks hurt.”
  • I’d never danced, period. I went to hear the band! I parked myself against the wall to watch, and quickly got dragged onto the floor.  The rest is history!”

Aug
3
Thu
Joyful Noise with calling by Emily Abel
Aug 3 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Aug
4
Fri
Hickory Nut Gap Contra Dance @ Hickory Nut Gap Farm Barn
Aug 4 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm


Band: Boys of Buncombe

Aug
10
Thu
Swannanoa Gathering Fiddle, Mandolin, and Banjo Week: Barn Dance with Staff Musicians and calling by Rodney Sutton
Aug 10 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Aug
13
Sun
Roots Contra @ Harvest House
Aug 13 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Roots Contra @ Harvest House | Asheville | North Carolina | United States

New England contra dancing as a traditional dance form. Dance contra chestnuts, northern and southern squares, circles, quadrilles, and triplets as well as newer contra dances to traditional contra dance music played close to the floor.
Diane Silver will lead the dancing, with music by Laura Lengnick, Karen Gaughan, and invited guests.

Please make a donation at the door.

Aug
17
Thu
Windmill (Laurie Fisher, Steve Trismen)
Aug 17 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Aug
24
Thu
Splash dance visiting musicians (Janet Muse, Emil Oguil and friends) with calling by Greg Frock
Aug 24 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Aug
25
Fri
Splashdance Weekend! @ Camp Ton-a-Wandah
Aug 25 – Aug 27 all-day
Splashdance Weekend! @ Camp Ton-a-Wandah | Hendersonville | North Carolina | United States

Splashdance, Asheville’s all-volunteer weekend of contra dance. swimming, musical jamming, and singing.
Details
Online registration

Aug
31
Thu
Nic Coker, George Paul and Steve Kemble with calling by Beth Molaro
Aug 31 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sep
7
Thu
Morrison Brothers Band
Sep 7 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sep
10
Sun
Roots Contra @ Harvest House
Sep 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Roots Contra @ Harvest House | Asheville | North Carolina | United States

New England contra dancing as a traditional dance form. Dance contra chestnuts, northern and southern squares, circles, quadrilles, and triplets as well as newer contra dances to traditional contra dance music played close to the floor.
Diane Silver will lead the dancing, with music by Laura Lengnick, Karen Gaughan, and invited guests.

Please make a donation at the door.

Sep
14
Thu
Andrew Van Norstrand on fiddle, Anna Patton on clarinet and Aaron Marcus on piano. and friends
Sep 14 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sep
21
Thu
Footloose with Barbara Groh
Sep 21 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sep
28
Thu
Hot Sonata (Laura Lengnick, Art Shuster, David Cohen, Karen Gaughan) with calling by Diane Silver
Sep 28 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Oct
5
Thu
Playing with Fyre with calling by Emily Abel
Oct 5 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Oct
8
Sun
Roots Contra @ Harvest House
Oct 8 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Roots Contra @ Harvest House | Asheville | North Carolina | United States

New England contra dancing as a traditional dance form. Dance contra chestnuts, northern and southern squares, circles, quadrilles, and triplets as well as newer contra dances to traditional contra dance music played close to the floor.
Diane Silver will lead the dancing, with music by Laura Lengnick, Karen Gaughan, and invited guests.

Please make a donation at the door.

Oct
12
Thu
Contrazz
Oct 12 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Oct
19
Thu
OFB Alan
Oct 19 @ 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Great Bear Trio with caller – Dugan Murphy
Oct 19 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Oct
26
Thu
Buddy System with calling by Beth Molaro
Oct 26 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Nov
2
Thu
Switching Protocols (Ruthie Byers, John-Michael Seng-Wheeler, Christopher Jacoby) with calling by Maia McCormick
Nov 2 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm