Contra Dances begin with two lines running the length of the hall, usually a line of men and a line of women facing each other. These two lines are called a “set.” You and a partner (who could be anyone) will join a set. Each dance is taught from scratch so no experience is necessary.
A “caller” will walk you slowly through simple figures in the dance, e.g. circle left. When the music starts — usually with a lively band — the caller will continue "calling" out the figures to guide you. Pretty simple and fun!
Here's a contradance. Clip is 1min:45sec. © Robert Logan
Contradance music is very lively and is often an Irish jig or reel. Jigs are in 6/8 time (somewhat "bouncy" -- think of someone dancing a jig) and reels are in 4/4 time (think of someone walking briskly.) The following music is a reel. Who wouldn't want to dance to this?! © Robert Logan
Why We Contra Dance! In this video, Chattahoochee Country Dancers tell why they contradance. Short clips featuring several contra dancers and couples. Clip is 7min:59 sec.