The Central Pennsylvania Country Dance Association (CPCDA) is an all-volunteer organization that hosts New England-style contra dances. This family-friendly entertainment has a long history in the United States and in the State College area. Danced to live and lively music, contra dancing is tremendously good fun as well as good exercise! No partner or experience needed.
The basic idea: each contra dance typically starts with a long line of couples facing each other. A caller walks the dancers through the patterns or "figures" of the dance before the music starts (and keeps calling the figures after the music starts, as well). As the figures are completed, couples progress down the line, then turn around and work their way back up to the top, then down again. Many of the figures are similar to those in square dancing. But words alone cannot quite capture the fun energy of a contra dance, so here is a video clip that might help (this one shows a dance in full swing, as it were - the caller is no longer calling the dance because the pattern has been repeated enough times so that everyone has it, now). Here is another contra dance video clip, perhaps more typical of a dance near you. And here is a contra dance workshop being taught, that covers most of the basics. But the best way to learn is to come on in to the dance hall and try it!
Dances are usually the third Friday of each month, September to April, from 7:30 to 10:30pm in the State College Friend's School Community Room. (Check the Schedule for details.) We have excellent local and out-of-town callers and wonderful live music provided by local and non-local musicians. Admission is $8 for members, $9 for non-members, and $6 for students. Children under 12 are admitted free. Memberships are $16 per calendar year for individuals, $30 for families.
Dress is casual - wear comfortable shoes. You don't need to bring a partner. Just smile and someone will grab you for the next dance. Experience is not needed. The caller instructs everyone prior to each dance. If you can walk and count to 8, you can do this! If you aren't sure you want to dance, feel free to come and watch (and enjoy the music) for free.
See our Schedule for the date of the next dance.
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