Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Okay, I'll just start out by saying that I had tons and tons and TONS of fun last night! :p I went to a contra dance with Amanda and Jessica. It was fun! Oh wait, did I say that already?

Anyway, it didn't take too long to figure it out, Amanda and I went early for the beginners lesson and I had watched some videos on youtube, so those two things helped a lot. The videos helped because I had an idea of what we were going to do, and during the lesson I could learn how to do it. Then when for the first dance, one guy picked me right away and he explained some more and he just talked a whole bunch which helped me relax too! The older guys were really good dancers, so it was easy to dance with them, although they didn't usually swing as fast. :) When I was saying that to my parents last night, my dad rather grumpily asked what I meant by "older"... "Grandpa aged!" I said, "not your age!" :p

So dancing with the older more experienced dancers was fun, but the younger guys were pretty good at it too, and they would swing you fast. Actually one guy ended up picking me up off my feet because he went so fast. He apologized later and told me I was leaning sideways which usually means that you want to go faster, so he obligingly went faster! Okay...I didn't know that, I'll keep that in mind! It was kind of hard to dance with some of the guys because they were too short, including one little kid who was probably about 9 or 10 and only about one half to two-thirds my height! I mean, really, I'm not that terribly tall, I'm 5'7", but it was a lot easier to dance with the taller guys!

I'm very surprised at myself...I usually have a wide personal space and don't stand very close to people even to talk to them, and I'm shy and don't do well meeting new people people, and yet I went and danced with a bunch of people I didn't know...and totally enjoyed it! :p Maybe I'm not as shy anymore as I thought...

It was interesting to see all the different people too, because it was a wide variety. And there was even one guy who was from Illinois originally! ...who didn't know how to waltz anymore. I have no idea how to waltz and he was trying to show me how, but he said he couldn't really remember how to either. Hmm...that might be why this isn't working very well!

It's neat the way everyone all works together to keep the dance going, steering people in the right direction, or telling them where to go, or encouraging them. I was even able to kind of direct some people, or give them a light push in the right direction the one beginner guy who kept going the wrong direction. He also couldn't swing me at all...I understand, especially since it was his first time, but he'd barely put his hand on my back, so we were mostly just walking around in a circle. The older guys were very encouraging, one of the guys was surprised that this was my first time dancing and said I knew how to swing very well. Well, I did think I'd figured out the swings, but then with some people I was tripping over their feet, so I'm not sure if I'm just not dependably good at it, or they were doing something wrong! :) I didn't get dizzy either, except for when I was dancing with one guy who did the swings differently, so I ended up facing out with nothing to focus on.

Some people would talk to you before the dance started, and some wouldn't say anything at all, which was kind of weird. One of the guys who was a beginner too would talk to me if we ended up dancing together, he'd ask if I was figuring it out yet and such. :) And then some of the guys who obviously did know how to dance and were very professional would hardly say anything at all...maybe they don't talk to people they don't know, or just don't talk while they're dancing.

And there was only one guy wearing a skirt... :p My friend Jessica warned me that some of the guys wear skirts, just so I wouldn't be surprised, so that wasn't too bad. Poor Jessica, she's been contra dancing a few times before, but not for a couple years. She told me she kept going the wrong way and then at some point smashed right into some lady! But she was doing pretty good, especially since she got there later and didn't hear the beginners class. I'm glad she was able to come, she'd just gotten her scores back on a test and was disappointed with what she got, so she didn't think she was going to come, but she decided she needed to have fun and not think about the test for a while...and I think the dancing helped her with that.

I think next time I go I would wear my hair up in a bun...I got terribly hot and sweaty, so it would have been more pleasant to have my hair all the way up rather than just in a ponytail. And I also think I'd bring a bigger water bottle and maybe a small towel! And that sounds kind of gross, but everyone was sweating a lot, so it's not really a big deal...unfortunately everyone else was managing to not turn bright red, which is what I do as soon as I get hot. :( And I'd also either put bandaids on my toes ahead of time, or tape them or something, because my outer toes got rubbed and I have a blister on one little toe. Ouch.

Anyway, that's what I did last night and it was lots of fun and now I know how to do an allemande, a ladies chain, a hey, balance (sort of), a swing, a left-hand star, California twirl, promenade, a right and left through, and a circle...and I think that was all? Probably some other things as well...that's the only names I can remember. Oh, and dosido, which is extremely confusing when you're supposed to do it with your "shadow" and you can't remember who that person is! And if you haven't been contra dancing you don't know what I'm talking about, so I'll shut up. :p

Suffice to say, it's very, very fun, and you should try it if there's a dance near you! :)

The one we went to here in Winston is hosted by the Fiddle and Bow Country Dancers, they have a dance every Tuesday at the Vintage Theatre which is a really neat little place. They also have a group on Facebook.


Jessica said...

(not the Jessica she went contra dancing with)

Cool...that sounds like so much fun! I understand what you mean by getting red faced almost immediately. It's not like I don't have any endurance, I just get red in the face easily, and it's annoying. I don't know if you get the Greenhouse Report, but in the issue after the conference, there was a picture of me after the dance talking with some friends, and it's just so face is all red and sweatty!

But it sounds like so much fun. I wish they had something like that here... :(

Natalie said...

No, we don't get the Greenhouse report, so I missed out on seeing that lovely photo. :P

I'm thinking next time I go dancing I'll try wearing a bandana or something...hopefully in some way that doesn't say "I'm wearing this so I don't have sweat dripping down my face!" :D Of course I'll still be red even if my face is dry...

There's contra dancing in Carrboro and some at NC State. Here's the page: Triangle Country Dancers But I don't know where you are in Raleigh, so perhaps neither of those would be very close.

Will said...

:D Ah Contra dancing, love it! Glad you enjoyed yourself and don't worry about getting hot or sweaty I don't think I've ever been to a dance where people weren't that way by the night's end.... Some folks actually bring a change of shirts no joke...Did you do the "Gypsy" move? It's when you walk around a person looking at them as you get closer and closer and then break into a spin... Oh and Jessica if you ever want to come to one of the TCD dances in Carrboro or State we usually get a group together the first Saturday of the month as well as several Fridays a month. And I know some people in you area who could probably give you a lift if you wanted to go to Carrboro....

Natalie said...

Yeah, it was really fun, Will! :) No, we didn't do the Gypsy that sort of like an allemande but without holding the person's hand?

Hey, y'all should come to Winston for one of these dances sometime! Who all in your family goes to the dances, Sarah, and Nick?
Of course if you came all this way you'd have to drive all the way back home at 10:30 at maybe not real practical. :P

Oh, I went back and looked at the contra video you posted on your blog, and also at the pictures on Facebook, and I recognized a bunch of people that I saw last night! :D The only person I could match a name up with though was Peter Clark...he was a really good dancer although he didn't talk at all! lol!

And a lot of the members of the local contra group on FB were listed as living in the Raleigh area...probably more than in Winston.
I just thought it was kind of interesting that there seems to be a whole sort of N. Carolina contra community.

Wow...long comment...dancing and/or talking about it seems to make me very talkative. :D

Kor said...

Who all in your family goes to the dances, Sarah, and Nick?


Nick does not merely dance, the floor melts under his tender, fairy like, quick feet as he masterfully moves in perfect precision to the beat of the music. The ease at which he shows his astute and penetrating knowledge of the dance puts Michael Flatley to shame.

He rarely has shoes on, for the speed at which his feet move would burn holes through the sole, much as his handsome visage sears into the souls of any woman who sees him. He is the prefect quintessence of grace and balance never missing a beat or pausing mid-dance to wonder "did I leave the stove on? [the answer is no]."

His twirling is not to be denied and various females have told him that he twirls quite well, unlike William who has men ask for twirling (True story). Nick does not get tired during dances, if the floor seems to be shaking it's cause Nick is pushing the earth down with each step he takes.

oh dear, now we've gone into the mystical area of Chuck Norris jokes, I'll have to tell one before I end this post...

Chuck Norris is suing Myspace for taking the name of what he calls everything around you.

Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

Natalie said...

LOL! Um...well then.

Well, that sounds should come down here to a dance and melt the floor of the Vintage Theatre! Except, alas, I am probably too short to dance with you, and I'm not sure that there were any ladies taller than me. :( So maybe that wouldn't work...what a shame...or you'd have to settle for dancing with people shorter than yourself. :)

Do you talk to the girls you dance with?

never missing a beat or pausing mid-dance to wonder "did I leave the stove on? [the answer is no]."

Because you probably never turned it on in the first place!!! Sorry...I really shouldn't make assumptions like that... :p

I thought that was starting to sound like a Chuck Norris joke! :D

Will said...

It is actually just me who does the dances,though Nick has come before but as you can probably tell from Nick's comment he is just so good it creates issues :p

Because of gas prices the dances in Winston are a bit far plus they are on Tuesday nights which is bad during school time...If you ever feel adventuresome you could always come to Carrboro though that might be too far of a drive for you. :p

Oh and depending on who I am dancing with I talk, especially if it is someone new.

Natalie said...

he is just so good it creates issues :p

*choke, cough* Ahem...sorry about that.

Oh right, gas prices, I didn't even think of that. Yeah that wouldn't work...driving very far for a dance makes it an awfully expensive dance. Wow, some people must have more money to spend on dancing than I do! :D I was already wishing I was a student so I'd get in for $5 instead of $7. :p

Meredith Ivy said...

Hi Natalie,

That sounds like so much fun! I have never been contra dancing and hadn't even heard about it before reading an old post at Life from the Toaster. The only dance I've ever been to was a Civil War dance earlier this summer (I blogged about it in late May or early June) and it was very fun. It's nice that they taught y'all the dances prior to each dance... They barely went over the moves at my dance and I think I just embarrassed everyone I ended up dancing with! :)

Have a great Friday!

Natalie said...

Hi Meredith,

Yeah, I first heard about it on the toaster blog too, and I'm really glad I did! :)

Oh wow, it would be really hard to dance if they didn't go through the dance first! :( And even with that I wouldn't have been able to remember it all if it hadn't been a called dance. Even as it was, a couple times the caller missed a move and everyone kind of got tangled up. :)

rebecca said...

You went to a contra dance? I feel so...out of it...

*goes to read other posts*

Oh and the dance (and skirted men) sound like lots of fun :)

Natalie said...

Woo-hoo! You have power again, I take it?! Lovely. :) you shall have to blog about having the power out for almost a week...seriously though, I'm glad you're all fine..and now air-conditioned and online. :)

Yes, the dance was loads of fun! Next time you guys come down here, you'll have to time it to be over a Tuesday so we can all go to one. :) Actually they have dances in Greensboro on Fridays or Saturdays too.

BTW, the Cubs won this afternoon...beating the Cardinals...they'll be in the play-offs. :P Hurrah, hurrah. :( lol!