For Musicians & Callers

Contra dancing is a participatory activity. For some, participating includes calling dancing and/or playing for dances. Cultivating the arts of playing and calling for your local community has a long history in contra dance and is integral to the Old Farmer’s Ball Mission. We offer several opportunities for you to develop your calling or playing abilities and to give you a chance to put those skills into practice.

Thursday Contra Location

Bryson Gym
Warren Wilson College
102 Upper College Rd
Swannanoa, NC 28778

Venue & Community

The beautifully restored Bryson Gym fits 3 – 6 contra lines with 150-300 dancers. The hall is not air conditioned, but fans provide some heat relief in summer. Dress appropriately.

We have a large community with experienced dancers from Asheville and the surrounding area, as well as an abundance of new dancers each week, mostly from Warren Wilson College.

Thursday Night Schedule

We provide an excellent sound system and technician. The hall is open by 6:00, and you (both band and caller) should expect the sound check to begin promptly at 7pm. The sound check must be completed by 7:30, in time to start the beginners’ lesson. If you require more than 30 minutes to set up, please let us know ahead of time and we will make arrangements to meet you earlier.

If you find that you are running late, or have a no-show emergency, please notify us as soon as possible via email at

W9 Forms

We request that you complete W9 forms before the start of the event. Search online for “fw9” for the latest version. Please email the completed form (no signature needed) to the bookkeeper, Joe Karpen, at If you have moved in the past year, we will need an updated W9.

Notes for Callers

In your role as dance leaders, we request your help in cultivating community connection and dance skills at the OFB. Following are some tips and insights into our group that can help with this.

  • Please plan to teach the beginners’ workshop, an introductory lesson for new dancers, to begin at 7:30 pm.

  • We support the use of any generally accepted caller terminology (Gents/Ladies, Larks/Ravens, Lefts/Rights, positional, etc) that you feel most comfortable using. Our primary request is that you teach the dances well to minimize confusion among all dancers regardless of their experience. We discourage the use of the term “Gypsy” and we prefer terms such as “right shoulder walk around”, etc.

  • In the second half, some more challenging dances are much appreciated. Remind our dancers to dance with someone that they don’t know, to dance with the new faces out there, to dance safely when it is crowded, to choose the short line, etc. …. all the usual stuff! One of our goals is to promote community dance etiquette and inclusivity.

  • Please feel free to share a brief teaching tip or two each evening aimed at intermediate dancers nuances that will help them fine-tune their dancing, now that they are proficient in the basic moves and navigation of the dance.

  • The caller is expected to remain on the stage throughout the dance. Please do not call from the floor or join the dance after it is going. Our dance is so large that your attention must be on the dancers throughout the evening.

  • Announcements are made by the host before the last contra before the break. The break should be planned for around 9:30 pm – 9:45 pm.


If you need housing please submit a housing request ASAP and we’ll be in touch. For special requests or questions, you can also email

Open Band Nights

View our Open Band Nights page for information about open band nights.