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!”