Off-Ramp for October 24, 2009

Contradancing: A Living, Swinging Tradition

Mercer 5771

Jackson Musker

"Contradancing" is a form community dancing: in a given song, pretty much everyone dances with everyone else. It also has a distinctive sound, as the caller shouts out the steps, the live band plays, and the dancers step and swing and stomp up and down the floor.

Every weekend in LA, hundreds of people gather to participate in the oldest dance in the American canon—Contradancing. This isn't a reenactment; it's a living tradition, and it's open to all comers. Correspondent Jackson Musker put on his dancing shoes and joined the throng at a recent Contradance in Brentwood led by longtime caller Susan Michaels. (READ ON FOR VIDEOS AND SLIDESHOW)

The following video features LA-based band The Syncopaths and caller Susan Michaels at a dance in Missouri. It offers a good introduction to Contra music, calling, and dancing. For LA-specific photos and video, continue reading below the break.

Intrigued? Head over to the dance this Saturday night (10/24) at the same Brentwood location that Jackson visited. (shown in the video below). Susan Michaels is calling, and a band called the Screaming Earwigs is playing. Sounds like a great time...

This clip shows a waltz at the Brentwood Contradance. Waltzes occur twice during a typical evening of dancing: once at intermission, and once at the end of the night.

A few more Contradancing photos, from a set on KPCC's Flickr page...


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