Lisa joined me tonight for the livelier contra dancing group, & it was fantastic. It was a larger group of similarly nerdy people, really nice & friendly in a shy way. The dancing involves lots of spinning with one’s partner & one’s neighbor, & right-hand stars & right & left grands & do-si-doing just like in square dancing. But there is constant movement & formation of new squares, & sometimes you are in long lines prancing up to each other & then backing off. Or you move around a big circle, women on the outside & men inside.
I loved it, & Monday is usually a good (unoccupied) night for me. I will most definitely go back! The Wed.-night group is nice too, & I will return there. An embarrassment of dancing riches. Yay! 4 years ago
It turns out that the group I visited last night does an especially sedate form of English country dancing. The challenge is more mental than physical: you have to remember the pattern of the dance & keep track of whether you are part of a head couple or “no. 2” couple (in the course of each dance it changes). The caller/organizer told me that this dancing appeals especially to mathematicians & that because my husband works with computers he’ll probably like too. Heh. Indeed the men in attendance were pleasantly nerdy; they were also very helpful in keeping me on track as I got my bearings with each dance. “They” plural because each man asked to dance with a different woman as each new dance began. There were four of them & four of us, which was fortuitous.
Some of the music & dances were reconstituted from the 1700s & even 1600s! It felt Jane Austenish to be doing those steps. :-) Others were in a similar style but have been written & choreographed in recent years.
Everyone was very friendly (in a pleasantly nerdy way), & I had fun. It wasn’t ecstasy like dancing at the Folklife Center in London (hard to match that night!), & it didn’t give me a good workout, but it was definitely fun & I will definitely return.
I’m told that the other group I was considering, which meets on Monday nights, has a livelier style of dancing. I’m all for breaking a sweat, so I am looking forward to trying it too! I’ve put it on my calendar for March 2. 4 years ago
- I have a free third Wednesday of the month
- I’m wearing a fairly light loose skirt
- I packed my Skechers in my backpack, to change into from my boots
- I’ve got a map with me – the site is just 3 blocks from a Purple Line stop
- I have checked the train schedule, so I know approximately what time I need to board in order to make it by 8:00
Bliss has been scheduled!
At least I hope it will be blissful. 4 years ago
Tonight, despite the cold, I ate a quick supper, printed out a map, & drove to the Wed.-night dance site.
I was running late & I didn’t see the building – didn’t realize I had passed it till I was quite a few blocks beyond it.
By then it wouldn’t have been worth it to stop, a whole half-hour after it began. But I drove back & took note of the location. In mid-February I hope to actually attend. (It’s only every two weeks, & two weeks from tonight I have a dinner with friends.)
Step by step . . . 4 years ago
because it has been on my list since early fall & I still haven’t had time to try out even one of the contra dance groups.
However, today I had a good phone conversation with the author whose book (which I’ve been editing) inspired the goal, & he is just thrilled that I was so inspired. Talking with him about some of my past folk-dance experiences, & the deep blissful feeling of belonging & connectedness that I have when dancing, renewed the longing inside me.
Then too, as winter is now firmly entrenched in Chicago (20 degrees F this morning, though the calendar says it’s still fall), I won’t be jogging outdoors & do really need to establish patterns of other kinds of cardio exercise.
So I’m going to look carefully at my calendar tonight & set a date to go dancing! 5 years ago
was a Saturday night at the Folk Life Center in London back in 1981. I went with a friend. The dance was in a large gym, & there were enough dancers to have a circle of women & a circle of men, facing each other, stretching around the far edges of the space. There was a small string band, & they played all night & we just danced & danced, with short breaks to get a drink & cool down.
Something I love about contra dancing: you switch partners constantly, so you’re constantly smiling into the eyes of strangers. It is such an expression of community & harmony.
One of the local contra dance groups meets on Monday evenings & the other on Wednesday evenings. Even if I joined one, I would go every two weeks or so rather than every week, because my schedule is very full. One charges $6 at the door, the other $5, so the expense is minimal. Both have free parking nearby, & one is also close to a Red Line stop.
I’m being very restrained as I write about this, but the truth is that I really, really, really love this kind of folk dancing. It makes me giddy with happiness. On a par with such things as singing in harmony & making love. :-) 5 years ago