Contra Dancing

Sun, 02/13/2011 - 13:08 — Carrie



If you have never contra danced, let me explain it a little bit. Ever seen the movie Pride and Prejudice? (any one of them) Well, that's called English Country Dancing. Contra is very similar, except it's faster, there are more skipping-like steps and fewer walking-like steps, and you very often will swing with your partner. Swinging is fun. Very fun. You go spinning around in a circle in a very fast, fluid motion, while moving your feet in time with the music. Lots of fun..... if you can get it right. 

Over the years, I have noticed that there are many different styles of swinging, when it comes to guys. These styles probably apply to girls, as well, but as I very rarely swing with a girl, I can not say for certain. I have decided to categorize the different styles. 

The 11 Styles of the Contra Dancer

1- The n00b

  The n00b is the first time swinger. They've either never done it before, or barely. Maybe it's their first dance ever, and they really have had no introduction. They're just thrown a random partner and told to swing her. I kinda feel bad for the these guys. Usually, they are characterized by the following attributes:

a. Fish Grip. They will barely touch you, and it's extremely loose. You feel like if you slip just a little bit, they'd drop you straight onto the floor.

b. Furrowed Brow. They are so bent on getting it right, that they completely forget to have fun. Brow furrowed from concentration.

c. Pull Away. When in doubt, stay as far away from this scary person called a partner as you can. Since you're already being forced to swing with her, pull your head as far back as possible, so the girl is the one trying to keep you from falling.    


2- The Exuberant n00b

  The only different between the Exuberant n00b and the regular n00b is just that... their exuberance. They may have absolutely no idea how to dance, but they sure are gonna bounce around and have fun anyway! Much more fun to dance with than a regular n00b. Characteristics:

a. See above

b. See above

c. Half Smile. They have no clue what their doing, but they figure if they smile, at least it'll still be enjoyable.


3- The Amateur 

  This guy is starting to get it. Well, at least he's not slouching. He still isn't sure what he's doing, but he's starting to enjoy himself a bit. Does well on things like a basic Do-Si-Do or Circle Left. Still needing some help in the swing department, but beginning to catch on.  Characteristics:

a. Loose Grip. Not as bad as before, but still feeling like we might spin backwards any minute. 

b. Distant Gaze. Not pulling back anymore, that's good, but still finding it a bit creepy to stare into their partners eyes. One of the hardest parts to get over for any new dancer. 

c. Smile. Yeah, they get it enough to enjoy themselves, now. Smile


4-  The Proud

  Okey, this guy knows what he's doing. Or... at least.... he thinks he does. He's got that you have to bounce during the swing, but can't seem to get the beat right. He sure thinks he does, though, and bounces for all he's worth. And he's sure he knows all the steps. Might make himself dizzy on the Do-Si-Do, but he sure does spin. Charecteristics:

a. Off-Beat Bounce. Bouncing on the wrong beat.... or the right beat.... or both.... 

b. Loose Grip. Still not getting the proper weight in his spin. Thinks he does, though, so it's actually worse than before.

c. Grin. "Oh yeah, I am *good*"


5- The Steady

  He's past the proud stage, if he even had one. Now he actually is a good dancer and knows it. He can do all the basic steps, including a pretty decent swing. It took him so long to get this far, though, that he's stuck. No spinning on the Do-Si-Do, no fancy twirls, and certainly no extra spins during the swing. Fun to dance with, but stolid. Characteristics: 

a. Good Hold. He's got it. The proper weight for the swing. Now if he can just keep it....

b. Straight face. He's having fun.... I think.... maybe he's so amazed that he's figured it all out, that he's afraid to smile for fear he'll mess up what he's got. 



6-  The Determined

  This guy's got it down well. He knows how to swing.... it's almost second nature to him, now. He hears the caller call a move and goes right into it fluidly. So now that he's got that, let's add some fancy stuff. Maybe a quick twirl during the Courtesy Turn, or a fancy hold during the Swing. Now if he can just figure out how to do *that* part fluidly..... Characteristics:

a. Smile. Ok, the smile's back. He knows enough about what he's doing that he can have fun again. 

b. Awkward Spin. He's trying, he really is, but somehow that Spin he does still feels forced and awkward. Thankfully, this stage is usually short, if they go through it at all. The Basic Spin is so much easier to pick up than the Swing.


Okay, so we've completed the beginner stages. Now that you're a confident dancer, with the ability to not only competently do the basics, but also pull of some fancy stuff rather well, let's see what kind of a Good Dancer you actually are.


7- The Stalker

  No, not like a Creeper-Stalker. That's a whole other category right there. I mean stalker like, "He stalked angrily down the hallway". This guy knows how to swing, I'm sure of it. He's certainly been dancing long enough, and he's got the hold right, but for some reason, he refuses to do more than walk through the dance. No skipping, no proper swing, just stalking. Usually these are the older gentlemen who probably have arthritis in their knees and want to dance, but can't bounce around like their younger counterparts. Often the stalker is one of the better dancers, despite his lack of bounce. Characteristics:

a. Smile. Yeah, he may not be cavorting around, but he's enjoying himself immensely.

b. Good Hold. Honestly, I'd rather you have a good hold than get the bounce right. At least I don't feel like you're going to drop me. Tongue


8- The Creeper

  Ok, this time I do actually mean that in the way it sounds. Often an older man, but can be young, too. This guy is to be avoided at all costs. He's a good dancer, sure, but he holds you waaay too close for the swing, and can sometimes even be found cutting other moves short just so he can swing with you longer. *shudder* Characteristics:

a. Creepy Smile. He just looks at you in that creepy way....

b. Tight Hold. No more need be said.


9- The Stolid

  He's a great dancer. He's got the moves down. He doesn't hold you too tight, or too loose. He spins you when he ought to spin you, and leads you into the proper moves at the proper time. But he lacks enthusiasm. Dancing is supposed to be fun! He's probably enjoying it, or he wouldn't continue to come, but it's hard to enjoy dancing with a guy who looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. Characteristics:

a. No Smile. He just stares at you. This can be a bit uncomfortable, especially during the swing. 

b. Perfect Rhythm. Really, I have no complaints against this guy except for his lack of enjoyment. Add a smile and he'd be perfect.


10- The Over Achiever

  This guy is *good*. Like, way good. He smiles, he's got rhythm, he's got some awesome moves and swings. Sometimes you have to wonder, though, how on earth he's managing to stay on his feet. Not everyone is the energizer bunny. If there's a fancy move that can be pulled off, he's doing it. And he's doing it with style and flair. He kinda stands out on the dance floor. Characteristics:

a. Grin. Yeah, like all the time. You can't help grinning just watching him and you know he's just having the time of his life out there. 

b. Sweat. This guy's got it.

c. Excitement. Every dance, every move, every step is filled with awesomeness for this guy. If there are people dancing, he's out on the floor. If there's a step that can be embellished upon, he embellishes. I love dancing with this kind of guy.


11- The Perfect Dancer. 

  Ok, so maybe he's not quite as enthusiastic as the Over Achiever, but he sure is good. He knows his moves, he has fun, he throws in the spins and twirls at just the right time. There can be no fault found with him. And when he messes up, he grins, laughs, and tries to do it better next time. Plenty of patience with the n00b, and, as I said before, obviously dances just because he loves to dance. Comfortable enough to even carry on a bit of conversation while dancing. Characteristics:

a. Smile. He enjoys dancing. He may not be always smiling, but he does smile rather often. And he always returns a smile, too.

b. Good Hold. Obviously.... he is titled "The Perfect Dancer"

c. Sense of Rhythm. Often seen tapping out the beat before starting in to dance, or when he's as the 'dead' end of the contra line. Swings in time with the music, and if he gets lost, can pick it up again cause he knows where to come in.


So there you have it, the 11 Styles of the Contra Dancer. Next time you're at a contra dance, see if you can pick them out. And if you're a guy, lemme know if these styles are the same in girls as they are in guys. 



Now I want to go to a contra dance. ^_^


Having not contra-danced, but having ECDed, I can tell you that many of these apply to the girls as well. Except that I prefer dancing with the enthusiasts in the middle of the scale and below because they have not made a full-time job out of dancing.


Recent comments


Syndicate content

User login