What is Contra Dance?

Contra Dancing is a modern version of what people used to do at Barn Dances across America.  It comes from English Country Dancing and similar dances in France, Scotland and elsewhere, that go back at least to the 1500s in Europe.  The dances are to live music, typically old-time Appalachian, Irish or New England string music, and to modern cousins of those styles. 

They are energetic dances, and the tempo is usually a moderate to fast walking pace.  At a contra dance, in addition to contras, you may encounter a variety of dances such as squares, circles, waltzes, and others.

Each dance is usually taught by a caller, who then calls the moves during the dance.  Comfortable shoes with smooth rubber soles are a good choice for footwear, but others wear a variety of shoes or just bare feet.  Lightweight and comfortable clothes are recommended.

An Introduction to Contra Dancing

A newspaper article on Contra Dancing

NPR News piece on the youth movement in contra dancing

A Blog by a local writer about her experience at a contra dance


Instructional Videos:
Contra Dance Moves I
Contra Dance Moves II

Videos of the Contra Dance in Tallahassee on December 14, 2011:
1) A Contra  
2) A Square  
3) Another Contra

Videos of other Contra Dances, mostly in Tallahassee

An answer to the question "Can you Contra Dance to almost any kind of music?"
Contra Dancing to Swedish techno hiphop, video from the Youth Dance Weekend 2008.


Contra Dances Elsewhere

Gainesville Contra Dances

Tampa Contra Dances

Other Florida Contra Dances

Atlanta Contra Dances

Contra Dances in the Southeast (clickable map)

Dance and Music Weekends


Georgy-Alabam Square Dance Weekend near Birmingham, AL, mid-January

Florida Snowball in St. Petersburg, FL, late January

Dancing with the GODS in Gainesville, late February

Vernals near Gainesville, FL, early April

Palmetto Bug Stomp in Charleston, SC, mid-April

Gamble Rogers Folk Festival in St. Augustine, FL, late April-early May

Florida Folk Festival near Lake City, FL, Memorial Day weekend in May
with contra and other kinds of dancing every night, and a smorgasbord of music

Mentone Dance Weekend north of Birmingham, AL, third weekend in August

Florida State Fiddlers Convention near Gainesville, FL, late October
with a dance on Saturday night and music the whole weekend long

Atlanta Dance Weekend in Atlanta, GA, mid-November

Music Jams

Old-Time Jam at The Warehouse - 2nd Saturday of each month, 7-10pm, 706 W. Gaines St.  Contact Mary at maryallgire "at" yahoo "dot" com

Irish Music Session at The Warehouse - 1st Saturday of each month

Irish Music Session at Fermentation Lounge - 3rd Sunday of each month, 7-10pm

Irish Music Session at Finnegan's Wake - 4th Sunday of each month, 7-10pm

Friends of Florida Folk organization of musicians and other folk artists in Florida

Other Dancing around Tallahassee

Hot Pepper Steppers Appalachian Clogging

Mountain Dew Cloggers Contemporary Clogging

Tallahassee Irish Step Dancers

Big Band Swing

FSU Swing and Lindy Hop

Ballroom Dancing

Last revised 2/13/17