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What is Contra dancing?
Well, it’s a whole lot o’ fun, that’s what it is.
Definitions: As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary Online (10-11-2001):
- a corruption of COUNTRY-DANCE: see CONTRE-DANCE
- CONTRE-DANCE [after F. contre-danse, It. and Sp. contra danza, all corruptions of the English word COUNTRY-DANCE, by the conversion of its first element into the F. contre, It., Sp. contra against, opposite.]
- A COUNTRY-DANCE; esp. a French country-dance.
The English country-dance was introduced into France during the Regency 1715-23, and thence passed into Italy and Spain… The arrangement of the partners in a country-dance in two opposite lines of indefinite length easily suggested the perversion of country into contre-, contra- opposite.
Country Dance: [f. COUNTRY + DANCE, lit. a dance of the country. On its introduction into France the name was perverted to contre-danse, which has been erroneously assumed to be the original form: see CONTRE-DANCE.]
a. A dance practised by country-people, usually in the open air. b. esp. a generic name for all English dances of rural or native origin (already in 17th c. contrasted with French dances); specifically, applied to dances in which an indefinite number of couples stand up face to face in two long lines…
As defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary (NY: World, 1972): my old dictionary lists contre danse:
- “a folkdance in which the partners form two facing lines; country-dance”
- Other words in this area of the dictionary, which might provide some amusement, are:
- contraception (!)
- contra-bution (contribution)
- Listen to the Music: Each figure goes along with a musical phrase; each step fits each note perfectly. When you get into this rhythm, you come as close to Heaven as any good Whirling Dervish. In a perfect dance, all dancers should be stepping to each beat at the same time.
- Pay attention: If you are out at the end of the line, your dancing skill may still be required to fill in a few strokes on the dance canvas. — Also, as the Caller does the Walk-through, please remain attentive and listen; others down line might not be able to hear the figures if there are too many conversations occurring in-line.
- Look at your partner. Also, give weight: After all, this is a co-operative Social Dance. Smile. Make contact and feel the support of fellow dance enthusiasts.