About us

        What is St. Louis Youth Contra?  It's a monthly folk dance geared for energetic youth.  We get mostly teens and a few college students, but everyone is welcome.  We strive for a warm, family-friendly atmosphere.  We focus on American Contra Dancing - sometimes known as old time country dancing (see description below).  We also include other fun dance traditions, including English Country Dancing, Swing, and Waltz.  Our dances are fairly easy and beginners are always welcome.  There's a beginner's workshop at the start of every evening.  Also, most dances are briefly taught or "walked through" before dancing.  You don't have to bring a partner, since our dancers routinely switch partners and ask someone else to dance.  You can ask anyone to dance, or wait for someone to ask you.  We frequently have live music during part or all of the evening.  The rest of the time we use quality recorded music, usually from acclaimed contra/folk bands such as Wild Asparagus and AirDance.


               What is Contra dance?  American Contra is a traditional community dance that originated in the colonial days and has evolved to reach its current modern form.  It's still thriving nationwide and in other countries.  The music and dance moves are a bit like square dancing, but the dancers usually form two long lines facing each other.  First, the "caller" teaches a particular dance and then gives verbal prompts during the dance as necessary to help everyone remember the moves.  Each individual dance lasts 6-10 minutes and we generally fit in at least ten different contra dances during the evening.  There are thousands of different contra dances in existence, and each has a unique combination of moves.  At its best, Contra could be described as a human amusement ride where centrifugal force and momentum propel the dancers through various interactive moves that involve both their partner and other dancers in the line.  A video is worth a million words, so check out these short videos:

             YouTube videos of Contra dancing:

                 Childgrove Contra Dance (This St. Louis group dances weekly in the same hall Youth Contra uses)

                 What contra looks like close-up (One of many contra dance weekends that take place nation-wide)


            What is English Country dance?  We also do a bit of English Country Dancing, which is a traditional English dance that has been around since the 1600's.  It's generally more stately and graceful than contra.  You've probably seen this genre if you've watched Jane Austin movies such as Pride and Prejudice or Emma.  English Country Dancing has not been modernized as much as Contra, so many of the dances are about the same as they were a few hundred years ago.  Like Contra, English Country Dance usually has long lines of dancers facing each other.  Check out these brief videos:
          YouTube videos of English Country Dancing:

                   English Country Dance video 1                                          

                   English Country Dance video 2 


                 How did the group begin?  In March 2006, a contra dance was held at Billy Boyer's birthday party.  The youth and young adults enjoyed the dance so much that we decided to hold another one even though it wasn't anyone's birthday.  People invited their friends and our dances grew.  Larry Boyer organized the dances with the support of experienced dancers from the Childgrove Contra Dancers, a thriving group that has been dancing in Webster Groves for decades.  In June 2008, we received a grant from CDSS enabling us to hire professional callers and musicians for some of our dances.  Currently our dances are organized primarily by youth/young adults.  Part of our mission is to give youth the opportunity to participate in calling the dances and playing the music, which can provide valuable leadership and musical experience.

             Come join in the fun!
Questions/Comments?  Email: stlouisyouthcontra@sbcglobal.net