(This page is a part of the contradance pages maintained by Kiran Wagle)

Absolutely no contras!

by Tony Parkes

(This article was originally posted to the Usenet newsgroup <rec.folk-dancing>.)

Now that I have your attention... ;-)

I've been following the "No Squares" thread with interest, wondering when to jump in. Most of the good things have been said by now, but I still feel moved to contribute my nickel's worth.

When I started dancing in 1956, and even when I began calling in 1964, what we did was square dancing. I don't mean that we did "modern western" or "club-style" squares, although the line between styles was hazier then than now. I mean that we did squares and a few couple dances. Contras were unheard of.

My first exposure to contras came around 1965. I danced to Ralph Page's calling at Folk Dance House in NYC and at Maine Folk Dance Camp, and to Dudley Laufman's calling when he visited my summer camp and again when he invited us campers to his house for a real kitchen junket. I fell in love with contras...the hypnotic repetitive rhythm of the music, the ebb and flow of the figures...and I've loved them ever since. *But* I had already fallen in love with squares, and I've never lost that love either. Fortunately, the two loves aren't mutually exclusive.

For the first several years after that, I tried to include at least one or two contras in all my programs. And it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to do contras. Dancers complained that contras were too hard to learn, too complicated, too monotonous, took too long to set up, fell apart if one couple stumbled, forced them to dance with everyone instead of a hand- picked set, and so on. I'm sure that many of their complaints stemmed from my inexperience with contras and my resultant awkwardness in presenting and teaching them, as contrasted with my ease in teaching and calling squares.

Sound familiar? I think a large part of our attitude toward squares and contras depends on how we've been conditioned to see them.

Tony Parkes <hands4@world.std.com>

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Last updated on June 27, 1996 by entropy@prismnet.com (Kiran Wagle)