Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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Contra as a Social Experience

Contra (contradancing) is a social experience, and more so than I realized! There is the aspect of having as many as 12-13 dance partners in one evening. The dance experience is shared with each partner for about ten minutes, and during that time a multitude of neighbor couples are interacted with, with the partner shared and other dancers interacted with in brief exchanges of contra moves.

Boy that sounds sociable, enough to make Austin Powers raise an eyebrow, but there is more. I was talking to dancers who do both contra and swing, and I was told that contra is more sociable, with an emphasis on eye contact. Why? The swing community quickly identifies incoming contra dancers because of their intense eye gazing. Dancers were told to “tone down the stares” because the swing dancers were not used to the eye contact intensity. Blues may have contra beat on the intimacy scale with the up close and personal personal dances, but contra has blues and other dance genres socially trumped when it comes to the eyeball beat-down.

There are other social delineations between the dance forms. I am told that the Swing / Lindy style has dancers “doing their own thing” even while the partners cooperate. Blues dancing, and many other forms, the interaction is between one couple. There is no constant influx of new neighbor couples. Square dance, in some ways the most close form of dancing, only has three neighbor couples in each square. A contra line (guessing!) has 10-12 neighbor couples encountered in a single dance.

Bottom line, I love contra for the social experience. As an introverted extrovert, I really need to be pulled out of my shell. I blossom once interacting, and the incredible social experience of contra is the nudge I need.
Tags: blues, contra, contradance, lindy, social, swing

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