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 sometimes...like 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.