It seems that everyone who has responded to this thread likes dimmer light for dancing (I do too), but that is not the community standard, which seems to be as bright as possible.
I wonder, though. Could it be that the bright lights have helped our contra-dance culture? Would the non-threatening nature of our (putatively outrageous) flirting be as easy to maintain in an environment with softer lighting? Would a room full of strangers not be more intimidating to beginners if the lights weren't bright enough to see the expressions of everyone, even people accross the room? (Even in the most cliquish, center-set crowds, contra dancers, for the most part, have happy, open expressions.) Would dimmer light make experienced dancers less likely to dance with people they don't know?
I often get irritated at bright lights, but they may be an important part of what really happens at contras. Perhaps romantic lighting is best left to special events and private waltz "lessons".
(Now could you turn off those mercury vapor lamps, PLEASE?)
Michael Young <firstname.lastname@example.org>