Details about our dances

Contra dance is an accessible form of community dance- there is no fancy footwork and the caller tells you exactly what to do.  The joy of contra is felt in the “elastic connection” between you and your fellow dancers – it’s been described as an “an amusement park ride we make for ourselves.”

We strive to make everyone feel welcome at our dances: Beginners & experienced dancers, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds.

We use the gender-neutral terms Larks & Ravens to differentiate the dance roles.  You do not need to bring a partner to our dances.  You will be paired up with other people throughout the evening – your “dance partner” is a temporary friend with whom you travel down the dance line, and your “dance neighbours” are the others you interact with.

A typical interaction (figure) is to take right hands with another person, and turn a circle together.  Another typical figure is to take two hands and step towards each other and away from each other twice.  We do not do any fast spinning (swinging) until the final portion of the evening – it’s optional to stay for these more advanced dances.

No experience is needed, but beginners must take part in our 7:15 orientation.

Non-dancers are also welcome at our dances! – come hang out in our cozy lounge, bring your knitting, school work, or favourite book, and enjoy the live music.

All Nations Church – 2535 Robie at Charles – entrance up the wooden ramp on Robie St.

7:00pm  Doors open – pay your admission fee and hang up your coat
7:15  Beginner orientation —  required if you are new to our group.
7:30 Dancing starts: spiral dance, mixer dance, sicilian circle dance – short break
8:15(ish) We introduce contra lines, and dance our first“real” contra dance.
8:30(ish) We are increasing the difficulty, introducing new figures with each dance.

If you are an experienced dancer who prefers to avoid the introductory stuff, aim to come around 8:30, and you’ll be ready to jump in our more involved dances.

After 9:30pm: we call more difficult dances with minimal teaching.  Beginners are welcome to try these dances, but will dance in a separate line from experienced dancers.

The dance ends between 10 and 10:15pm.

– Cash only

– Regular admission for dancers is $15
– We are a volunteer-run organization on a tight budget – if you’re also on a tight budget, then please pay what you can, even a twoonie – our priority is that you come and dance with us!   Conversely, if you can pay more than $15, we appreciate additional donations.
– For family groups, we suggest $15 each for up to 2 adults, and a small donation for each additional adult.  Kids dance for free.

– Bring a water bottle, pretty please!  You *will* get thirsty. 

– Wear flat-soled shoes only – no heels.  If it’s mucky out, bring a pair of clean dry shoes if you can.  Smooth-soled shoes are the most fun.

– Wear stretchy comfortable clothing and dress in layers — it gets very hot in the dance hall after a few tunes!

– Wear the clothing you feel most comfortable in – we encourage a range of attire – from PJs, to sweatpants, to fancy dress, to full-on costumes!

Bring cash for admission, we don’t take cards.

– During the colder months, bring a warm layer to start.  We open windows and doors for fresh air, but that means it’s cold for the first half-hour.

– We ask you to avoid scented products – some dancers have allergies – but we *do* request deodorant!

– Viruses are still circulating in our community – we welcome folks to wear masks if they wish to.  Masks are not, however, required for dancing.

– We welcome dancers to bring information about other community events for our ‘community table’.

If you feel unwell and could possibly be contagious with any virus or illness, please do not come to the dance.  We have people of all ages at our events, and we truly want to keep everyone safe.  Dancing is a higher-risk activity due to the large number of people exerting themselves in a small space.  The best way to keep everyone safe is to avoid coming if you could spread sickness to others.  Thank you so much for helping us out!

And, finally, a word on our values:
– We are a supportive, beginner-welcoming, fun-loving group – we don’t take our dancing too seriously – mistakes are an opportunity for laughter!  We encourage you to participate with this mindset – and not get stressed if things go sideways. 🙂

– We commit to creating a gender-positive space where anyone feels welcome to dance with anyone else.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time, at