"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Knoxville, TN Contra Dance

We found a contra dance in Knoxville! We've been twice already and we think it's a good dance. That means a few things. First, there's good live music. Second, there are good callers. And third, there are enough experienced dancers to get the dance moving. Most contra dances are very welcoming to new-comers, as they want their dance community to grow. However, if there isn't a critical mass of experienced dancers, the dances flounder, or have no flow. So this little community dance has all three. Lucky us.

It also has a unique, but not unheard of feature of a balcony above the dance hall, so I was able to take some cool photos.  I've been experimenting with shutter speed to get that blurred look in waterfalls (more of that soon), so I tried the same setting on dancers.  I like the effect; it captures the sense of movement, which is what it's all about.

The dance hall is an old church.  I think it also serves as a community theatre. Here you can see the old stained glass windows at the end of the hall. Usually the band would be there, but in this case they are on the stage at the side. You get used to it. The couples are doing a do-si-do here. As you can see, contra dances are casual affairs. No fancy outfits needed.

The band, Attic Rattlers, had a more traditional southern Appalachian flavor than we usually hear at contra dances, and we both liked it a lot. They were very lively.

Here are a few shots of Rick dancing. He's the blur in the red T-shirt. The couple standing against the wall is "out." You know how square dances progress around and around the square? In contra dance, couples progress down the line, or the hall, until they get to the end, then they are out for one round of the dance  (64 counts) until the next couple is out. They are watching two couples circle "hands four" to the left - a typical figure.

Here Rick is swinging his partner.  Swinging is what most folks consider the high point of the dance.  The etiquette is to change partners after each dance. But within the dance as well, you are constantly dancing with other partners for a figure or two, like" swing your neighbor." So all the dances are essentially mixers - a real plus for meeting people and building community. 

We'll have one more Monday night at the Knoxville dance before we leave, after Memorial Day weekend.  In addition to dancing, we've had a few hikes and a very special drive that I'll be posting about soon.  

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