Contra Dancing in Greater Boston

Contra Facts

What is “contra dancing”?+

It is an evening of fun featuring dancing in “sets” of about a dozen couples, with moves and figures taught by a caller. You interact with your partner, and everyone else in the set, too, as you dance with easy walking steps to energetic music featuring such instruments as fiddle, piano, guitar, and more. An evening might also feature square dances and couple dances, such as waltzes and polkas. The hallmarks of contra dancing are the fabulous live music and the mix of friends and new people, so it’s an experience of dynamic connection and community.

What happens during a dance?+

You, the other dancers, the musicians, and the caller aim for an evening of low-pressure, yet often energetic, camaraderie. We mix around and find new partners for each of the dozen or so dances during the evening.

How do I join in the fun?+

Come alone or with others, and no experience is necessary. Most dance series have welcome sessions for beginners, 15 to 30 minutes before the official start time. It’s best to jump right in for the first dance–you will learn more by dancing than by watching! You may ask anyone to dance, and experienced people will help you throughout the evening.

When and where are the dances?+

Basic information for Boston-area series is listed below, and updated information is usually available on various Facebook sites, including Boston Region Contra Dances, as well as each group’s Facebook page and website.

What do I need to participate?+

Energy and Enthusiasm! Wear comfortable clothes that you can move in. To protect the wooden floor, many venues ask dancers to bring a separate pair of clean, soft-soled shoes. Most dancers wear flat shoes with smooth soles. Check the website of each dance for admission fees and payment options.

Role Terms+

We use Larks and Robins role terms. When you stand next to your partner, the Lark is the dancer on the Left, and the Robin is the dancer on the Right. At the start of each dance, it’s important to know which role you are dancing.

Dances may change schedules near holidays or cancel for bad weather.
Confirm information before traveling!

BIDA (Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates) Contras in Porter Square, Cambridge
First and Third Sundays, 7:30-10:30 PM at The Masonic Temple, 1950 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Monday Contras by the Monday Night Dance Committee
Year round Mondays, 7:30-10:30 at the Concord Scout House 978-341-4143
Thursday Contras by the NEFFA Thursday Night Dance Committee
Year round Thursdays, 7:30-10:30 at the Concord Scout House
Gender Free Contra in Jamaica Plain
Various Saturdays, usually First and Third, 7:30-10:30 at First Church in Jamaica Plain, 6 Eliot St, Boston
Roaring Jelly Dance
Once a month Fridays (usually 4th), 8:00-10:30 at First Parish Church, 7 Harrington Rd, Lexington

For more information on dances, call the Folk Arts Center at 781-438-4387 (Boston area events) or CDSS at 413-203-5467 (nationwide).

You can find contra dancing throughout New England and the rest of the country. Use your web browser to locate other dance groups, festivals, and events. It’s a very welcoming activity!

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