Contra in The Couve!

2nd Friday Contra Dance

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Our next dance:

Friday, March 8, 2019
A Cascade Promenade event!
Lesson at 7:30 pm, dance 8 - 10:30

Heliotrope, with
Valerie Cohen calling

at the Hazel Dell Grange,
7509 NE Hazel Dell Ave., Vancouver WA 98665

Download the Flyer


   Heliotrope: Paul, Robin, Michael

Valerie Cohen

   Valerie Cohen

Winter dealt us a bum hand in February, but we'll be back for a hot time when we dance on Friday, March 8th, with music by Heliotrope (Bellingham), and dances called by Valerie Cohen (Seattle). This dance will be part of the Cascade Promenade, a 5 day Pacific Northwest dance party!

After many years of playing together informally, Robin Brown (fiddle), Paul Englesberg (flutes, concertina, whistle, fife), and Michael Hobart (guitar) formed Heliotrope in 2013. With an emphasis on fluid melodies, stylish harmonies, driving rhythms, and musical surprise, Heliotrope provides a distinctive blend of contra dance music drawn from a wide range of musical traditions — Celtic, French Canadian, New England, Appalachian, classical, contemporary, and even Scandinavian. They thrive on leaving dancers with happy, tired feet and yearning for more.

Valerie Cohen has been an avid contra dancer since the early '80's. Active in the Seattle folk music and dance community as both musician and dance caller, she enjoys sharing the energy, flow, and camaraderie of contra dancing with new and experienced dancers alike.

We look forward to welcoming all of these talented people to our stage for the first time. Band and caller alike will be among the featured performers at the all-day Portland Roadhouse dance on Sunday, March 10.

Friday, March 8
Hazel Dell Grange, 7509 NE Hazel Dell Ave., Vancouver WA 98665
Lesson at 7:30 pm, dance 8 - 10:30 pm
Admission: $6 - $15 sliding scale

Contra Dance Community Survey

Did you know the Portland area Contra dance scene is organized by 8 different groups? Well, all those volunteer organizers began meeting together last summer, and we decided we needed to conduct a survey of our entire dance community. UPDATE: Launch of the community survey is delayed while we work on crafting a more effective information-gathering tool. Look for more details in your e-mail, this website, and at dances later this year. We want the most accurate snapshot of our dance community possible, so we are hoping everyone will show some love for the community with widespread participation.

Why a sliding scale?

We need to raise more money to support our dance and the talented people who make it possible, without making it unaffordable to anyone. On average, it costs at least $350 to put on each monthly dance. The sliding scale opens a way, for those who can afford it, to support our dance more generously. Musicians and callers will benefit directly. Thank you for supporting Contra in the Couve!

Special note for Portland contra dancers:
We are only 10 miles from downtown Portland and we have some of the best bands and callers in the region at our dances. Come on up and join the fun!

Friday I-5 traffic got you down? Try waiting until 7:30 or 8:00 to head north. Check traffic on your smart phone before leaving. Or come with a friend before 6pm, use the carpool lane through N. Portland, and have dinner at one of the many great eateries in “the Couve.”

About Contra in the Couve!

We contra dance in Vancouver (WA) on the second Friday of every month at the Hazel Dell Grange, 7509 NE Hazel Dell Ave. This fine, roomy dance hall has a great wood floor and an easy-to-find location, with plenty of parking, just a few blocks from I-5, Exit 4. We welcome new and experienced dancers alike, and we invite you to come and dance with us!

What the heck is contra dancing? Contra dancing is an American social dance tradition dating back to the colonial period. It's fun, interactive, easy to learn, great exercise, and has nothing to do with Nicarauga. Some say that if you can walk, you can contra dance, because there is no fancy footwork involved. Contra dance is not country line dancing, nor is it square dancing, though we may occasionally dance a square. Contra is square's Yankee cousin and, like square dancing, is always prompted by a caller. So if you've ever done square dancing, contra will seem familiar to you — but no fancy outfit is required! To learn more about contra dancing, check out Gary Shapiro's informative page.

No experience needed. All dances are taught. Come alone or with a partner.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Always live music!

Please wear soft-soled shoes, free of grit from outside. Shoes with leather or suede soles, or dance sneakers make for easier turning.
The dance floor and your feet will be happier. Thanks!

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Contra in The Couve! Schedule

Always the 2nd Friday.

Date Caller Music
November 9, 2018 Noah Grunzweig Coriolis (Portland)
December 14, 2018 David Kaynor (Montague, MA) Hands4 (Portland area)
January 11, 2019 Isaac Banner (Seattle) The Stage Crew (Portland)
February 8 - CANCELLED Rich Goss Dan, Fran, & Heather (Portland)
March 8, 2019
A Cascade Promenade event
Valerie Cohen (Seattle) Heliotrope (Bellingham)
April 12, 2019 William Watson (Portland) Bandwidth (Keith, Gordy, & Carl)
May 10, 2019 Laurel Thomas (Portland) Cascade Crossing (Portland / Clark County)
June 14, 2019 Andrea Nettleton (Georgia) TBA
July 12, 2019 TBA TBA

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Contact us

We are committed to the enjoyment and safety of all in our dance community. Click here to view our Safe Dancing Policy. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. You can talk to an organizer at the dance, write a comment in our guest book at the dance, or contact us by email to info 'at' ContraInTheCouve 'dot' org. If you email, please include your phone number if you would like to speak with a dance organizer.

Join our mailing list to receive e-mail reminders of Vancouver contra dances. Please sign up here:

Bands and callers, if you are interested in playing or calling for a future Vancouver contra dance, please send an e-mail to booking 'at' ContraInTheCouve 'dot' org with information about your band or your calling.

Please send feedback on our web site to webmaster 'at' ContraInTheCouve 'dot' org.

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How can I help?

Putting on a contra dance really is a community effort, and there are many ways you can get involved to help keep this dance series going strong. Here are a few of the valuable and important contributions you might make:

To volunteer or to learn more about how you can help, please email info 'at' ContraInTheCouve 'dot' org.

And here's something you can do right now! Just download the Flyer for our next dance, print two or three copies, and post them at your workplace, church, school, favorite cafe, or neighborhood bulletin board. Or, better yet, give one to a friend and invite him or her to come with you to the next dance.

Thank you for your ongoing support of this dance series!

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Directions to Hazel Dell Grange

Hazel Dell Grange

Map to Hazel Dell Grange

View Larger Map

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Videos: Contra Dance Training for Beginning Dancers

The Chattahoochee Country Dancers in Atlanta, GA, have produced a great series of contra dance instructional videos. If you are new to contra dancing, these short videos offer an opportunity for you to review some of the basics, away from the dance floor. Then you can have even more fun the next time you come to a dance. The YouTube versions are listed below. CCD also has a very informative page for new dancers at their web site.

  1. Introduction - Watch this first
  2. Two Dancers
  3. Four Dancers or Hands Four
  4. A Contra Line & Progression
  5. Come Dance With Us
  6. A Called Dance #1
  7. A Called Dance #2
  8. Tips for New Dancers
  9. Contra Video Credits
  10. Welcome New Dancers -- Susan Davis
  11. Welcome New Dancers -- Rob Harper

CCD also offers a higher resolution DVD version of these videos.

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