Frequently Asked Questions

What is contra dance?
What is English country dance?
When are the dances?
How much is admission?
What is the typical structure of a dance?
Do I need to bring a partner to a dance?
Do I need a special outfit?
Why do some guys wear skirts?
What is dance etiquette?
What is the Megaband?
Why did the dances move from the Heights Community Center?

__________________________________________________________________________

What is Contra dance?

Contra dance is a form of traditional American social dance with its roots in western European folk dance. The structure of contra dance is long line sets down the dance hall with your partner across from you. Under the prompting of a dance caller, each dancer and their partner dances with a couple next to them, forming moving figures as the couples progress up or down the set. These dances are social, providing opportunity for dancers to relate to each other in a fun and non-stressful way. All of the dances are taught, and beginners are welcomed warmly and encouraged.

Contra has been described in the following ways:
“Geometry in motion, order out of chaos”
“a rhythmic swirl of awesomeness and dancing”
“my face hurt from smiling so much!”
“a kaleidoscope, a weaving, a quilting with humans to music”
“a human whirligig: people moving in patterns to live music”
“You’ll have fun — and get lots of exercise without even knowing it: a wonderful natural high!“

Dance level: If you can walk and hold hands, then you can contra dance.

Check out our Video Gallery and Photo Gallery for examples of contra dance in our community.

Return to Top

What is English country dance?

English Country Dance, Contra Dance, and Square Dance are all danced with couples arranged in sets. English is the common ancestor, dating back four hundred years to the English courts. But new English dances are being written all the time by regular folks.

Contra, as its name suggests, is danced with lines facing each other down the hall; squares are four couples in a square. English Country Dance can be in either of these configurations, or in a circle, or in sets of two or three couples. Each English dance has its own tune. These have a variety of meters and phrasings and are often very beautiful. Contra and squares can usually be danced to any sixteen-bar tune.

English dances have a wide variety of textures. Some dances feature slower, more elegant patterns and styles of movement that yield an abundance of lingering and relational “moments” between dancers. Others have spritely and sometimes complex movements that are just plain cool.

In Albuquerque we are lucky to have a thriving dance community with regular opportunities to dance both English and contra.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Return to Top

When are the dances?

We hold four contra dances a month: two in Albuquerque and two in Santa Fe. The ABQ dances are on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays; SF dances are on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays.

We also sponsor a mixed contra/English Country dance in ABQ on the second Sunday of each month (except summer). Our affiliated organization in Taos holds one dance a month.

See our calendar for dates and details.

Return to Top


How much is admission?

For Albuquerque and Santa Fe Saturday contra dances:
Members: $8 Non-members: $9 Students: $4.50 Under 12: Free
Credit Cards are now accepted at Albuquerque Dances!

For UNM dances:
Members: $4 Non-members: $5 Students: Free Under 12: Free UNM Faculty/Staff: Free

For Second Sunday English & Contra dances:
Members: $8 Non-members: $9 Students: $4.50 Under 12: Free

For Taos dances:
Adults: $8 Students and Under 12: $5

For special events, see Events.

Return to Top


What is the typical structure of a dance?

In Abq and Santa Fe: A typical contra dance evening begins with a Beginner’s lesson at 7pm. Dancers of all levels are encouraged to attend to learn or refresh on basic contra moves (and the vocabulary that goes with them). Dancing begins at 7:30pm, and continues until about 9pm. There is a waltz and then a short 10-15 minute break with snacks. Dancing resumes for the rest of the evening and ends with a second waltz.

Return to Top


Do I need to bring a partner to a dance?

No, just show up! The culture of contra dance is that you switch partners after every dance. In some dances, called “Mixers”, you get a new partner every progression.

Return to Top

Do I need a special outfit?

Nope! Wear whatever you are comfortable moving in. However, to protect the dance floor, we ask that all dancers please wear clean, soft-soled, non-marking shoes, such as dance shoes or sneakers. We also recommend layering, since the dance hall (and its occupants) can get warmer as the evening progresses.

Return to Top


Why do some guys wear skirts?

Because twirling is fun! Also, FolkMADS is an open community and any one can dance as a lead or a follow regardless of gender. Buttons, ties, and/or beads can be worn to help indicate a dancer’s role (and are provided at the front desk of each dance).

Return to Top


What is dance etiquette?

Dance etiquette are the guidelines we have for all our dances to maximize enjoyment for all dancers. Please see the Dance Etiquette page for more information.

Return to Top

What is the Megaband?

The Albuquerque Megaband is an all-volunteer, open, acoustic band that plays for our 3rd-Saturday dances. The Megaband was hatched in the mid-1980s, and has been an incubator for new musicians or musicians new to this genre. The current Megaband plays mainly southern Old-Time tunes, with the occasional nod to New England or Celtic styles. Check out the ABQ Megaband page for tune lists, sound clips, and more information.

The Santa Fe Megaband practices at the ODD Fellows Hall on ODD (1st and 3rd) Wednesdays at 7 p.m. More information on the Santa Fe Megband page.

Return to Top

Why did the Abq dances move from the Heights Community Center?

In 2012 we moved to a new, regular location at the Albuquerque Square Dance Center. The reasons for the move were numerous, and there are many benefits to being a member group at the ASDC. Among the most important are two benefits that address major issues for our organization: secure storage for our equipment, and our own key to the facility. As much as we love the Heights Community Center, these factors make it feasible for us to continue our dance series. We also enjoy having the area of tables and chairs at the end of the dance hall, where we can socialize, take a break, and have snacks and beverages while still being in the same room.

Return to Top

 

If your question was not answered here, please contact us.

New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society