Asheville’s contra dance community is probably the top contra dance destination among North American dancers. Asheville boasts two weekly dances, both crowded with as many young, hip dancers as traditional dancers of a certain age.
The flourishes are stylish and sometimes daring, and often well executed; flirting’s intense, and the playfulness ubiquitous across generations. Most visiting dancers agree that the dancing is the highest quality they’ve experienced. (Check the video links at the end of the post for examples.)
Indeed, it’s a group that defines community. The connections extend well outside the dances; people support each other in times of need and celebrate one another’s successes and milestones.
Contra dancing is a style of folk dance that shares some figures with both English Country Dancing and Square Dancing. Couples dance to calls facing another pair in long lines. When the pattern is completed the couple moves up or down the line. By the end of the set, they will usually have danced with every other couple in the line.
The nature of the dance is very social. People switch partners after each dance and couples who come together usually dance mostly with other partners, so singles are easily integrated into the group. The dance is also gender blind when it comes to finding a partner. Women ask men as often as the reverse, and all genders dance together some of the time.
Every Thursday night the Old Farmers Ball dances in Bryson Gym, at Warren Wilson College. A beginner’s lesson at 7:30 makes it a perfect place to learn the dance. Anyone can learn to do this simple dance and feel confident dancing the rest of the night. Admission is $6 for non-members. Here’s the weekly schedule.
There are numerous other dances in the region, including several dances a month at the beautiful River Falls Lodge in Marietta, SC, less than an hour’s drive from North Asheville. In the other direction, there are several dances in Jonesborough, TN. These are very new dance friendly communities, as well; newcomer lessons are always held before the regular dances in both communities.
The region also boasts several very popular dance weekends in the region, including Moon Dance at Table Rock Park and Summer Soirée at Warren Wilson College and the twice yearly Contrathons and Dance Weekends hosted by the Historic Jonesborough Dance Society.
Great Videos of Asheville Contra Dancing
Enjoy the dance!
Happy Feet, Happy Heart,
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