Here are a few tips that we think might help beginners.....
Get Started with a Lesson
We STRONGLY recommend that you arrive early for the beginner's lesson. Each and every Brooklyn Contra dance starts with a detailed beginner's lesson from the caller. The caller will give you the general break down of how the dance works, go over simple moves, and talk about how to stay in time with music. It's fun and an invaluable experience – you will enjoy the rest of the dance much more after the lesson.
While Contra is danced with a partner, bringing one is not necessary. It’s a great way to meet new people! Get out there and say “hello!”
It can be challenging and even frustrating to dance with another new dancer. We highly recommend that new dancers who wish to learn quickly seek out more experienced dancers as partners. They’ll help guide you during the dance, accelerating the learning process. If you brought another new dancer with you, it will be more fun to dance with them after you’ve both danced a dance or two with other people and gotten the feel of things. Don’t be shy, mix and mingle!
It is traditional in Contra that you change partners throughout the night, so don’t be intimidated to ask someone to dance.
About the Caller
The caller is here to help you. Trust them; they won’t steer you wrong. When the caller is teaching, please be courteous, give your full attention, and avoid side conversations. When the caller asks for "hands four and pass it down" (you’ll see), join hands in groups of four and hold them until the group below you has done the same. This way each dance can start as soon as possible.
If you make a mistake or miss a figure, don’t worry about it – it’s all in fun! Smile and, instead of rushing through the botched figure, skip it and go on to the next. That’s what the experienced dancers do. It is more important to the people you are dancing with that you be ready for the next figure than for you to complete each figure. The figures repeat, so if you miss it one time, you’ll have plenty more chances to get it right. Just hang in there!
About the Dancing
Move with an easy and smooth walking step. Try to avoid jumping or bouncing when swinging. Dance each figure within its musical phrase. Give Weight! Keep arms firm to support each other through the figures. Keep eye contact. There’s lots of eye contact in contra dancing. It’s more fun and it reduces dizziness during swinging.
Be sensitive to others’ needs and preferences.
Keep in mind that there’s a lot to take in the first time, but every dancer here has been through it. You’re likely to enjoy it even more the second time, once the people, figures, and music are more familiar to you.
If you can walk, you can contra. Remember to have fun and get out there and DANCE!
Still have questions? Maybe we've answered them in our FAQs.