KINGSTON — Are you feeling a little bit country? Or a little bit contra?
This weekend you’ll have a chance to dance in either style. Or both.
With their summer break coming to an end, the Wyoming Valley Contra Dancers hope to welcome newcomers as well as old friends to their first monthly dance of the 2018-2019 season, set for 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Church of Christ Uniting Fellowship Hall, 776 Market St., Kingston.
It’s “lively, energetic and very social,” dance organizer Dave Martin, of Centermoreland, said earlier this week, describing an activity similar to square dancing, but with dancers forming two long lines instead of squares. “People can see what it’s like by watching the videos on the Wyoming Valley Contra Dance Facebook page.”
“It’s just a good time. Dancing is such a happy activity,” said musician Peggy Shutes from the “Contra-Intuitive” band, who will make a 3-hour drive from the York area to Kingston with her husband, Ryck Kaiser, so they can contribute the sounds of a keyboard and fiddle as caller Bob Isaacs tells the dancers when to circle right or left or do-si-do or swing their partners.
“You don’t need to bring a partner,” Shutes pointed out. “People will dance with you.”
Contra dancers pair off and interact in a simple dance routine with two other people before moving on to the next twosome to repeat the sequence.
By the time a dance is over, an individual likely will have danced with every other person in the room, which could include anyone from first-graders to great-grandparents.
“We’ve had high school students, college students and children attend the dances,” Martin said, noting whole families sometimes come together to “enjoy the synergy with the musicians. The live music really makes it special.”
Admission to the dance is “pay what you wish.” If you’d like to participate in a pre-dance potluck supper that begins at 6:15 p.m., bring a dish to share.
If Saturday’s contra dance whets your appetite for more dancing, you might consider a trip to the Milk Parlour Ballroom, 1996 Millville Road, Bloomsburg, where Oliver Larmi will host an English Country Dance starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the refurbished barn.
How is “contra” different from “country?”
“English country dancing is more formal,” Larmi said, explaining the dancers often use the connection of eye contact rather than physically touching each other.
“George Washington did this, and all the Colonials, too. It’s very polite dancing, what you’ll see in Jane Austen movies and TV shows,” he said, adding he considers contra dancing, which he also enjoys, a “more rambunctious” offshoot of country dancing.
Admission to the country dance is free and, in similar fashion to the contra dance, it is not necessary to arrive with a partner.
Larmi hopes to host a series of English country dances on Sundays in Bloomsburg in preparation for an old-fashioned ball in Philadelphia in early December. “Maybe we’ll have a mini-ball here as well,” he said.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT