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Contradancing: A Living, Swinging Tradition

"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.
Jackson Musker

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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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