Music, dancing and fun for the whole family in the park
June 22, 2009 · Updated 9:17 AM
Fun, fun, fun and more fun for the whole family.
That’s the point of a new community event dreamed up by fiddler Kat Fritz and her musical mates.
Join the Island Contra Band (sometimes known as the Swinging Nettles) with musicians Judy Magidson, Joanne Rouse, Fritz and Steve Showell from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 21 for an afternoon of dancing and live music at the South Whidbey Sports Complex in Langley.
Seattle contra dance caller Sheri Nevins, who has been calling dances in Seattle for almost 30 years, will be on hand with her particularly child-friendly calls to get everybody up on their feet.
If fun is the name of the game, then these dances sound chock-full of good times indeed, with colorful monikers such as Shadrack’s Delight, Contra Madness, Fast Living, Highway Hypnosis, Marshmallow Surprise, Missing Duck and You Can’t Get There From Here.
What is contra dancing, you ask?
Aficionados of the form say you really have to dance it to know what it is, but basically a contra dance is a traditional New England dance that starts with two lines of dancers facing each other.
Most contra dances consist of a sequence of about six to 12 individual “figures” prompted by the caller in time to the music through which partners on the line move.
A figure is a pattern of movement that typically takes eight counts, although figures with four or
16 counts are also used.
The caller teaches each individual dance, with its particular steps and formations, just before the music begins for each dance.
Other partner dances are often thrown in at contra-dancing events, including waltzes, schottisches, polkas or Swedish hambos. Sometimes square dances, too, make their way into the mix.
A live band typically plays a series of jigs and reels from Ireland, Scotland, Canada or the United States. The tunes are often traditional and more than a century old, or may be modern compositions which follow the same form as the traditional pieces.
If you need a musical preview, the Swinging Nettles will perform from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, June 21 at the Relay for Life event at South Whidbey High School in Langley.
Fritz stressed the fact that the contra dance is a community-building event that welcomes families to join in the dance and celebrate the solstice.
“It’s an activity for all ages and abilities, and you don’t need to bring a partner to join the fun,” Fritz said.
Plus, dancing will bring you bargains.
Good Cheer Thrift Store will offer discounts to all dancers. The number of dances will be tallied by organizers, and the more you dance the higher your discount at the store.
The event is free, with food donations being accepted for Good Cheer Food Bank.
The dance will take place rain or shine under the pavilion shelters at the soccer fields in Langley.