[This description is modified by Alan Winston from text written by Linda Repasky, who dances in Amherst, Massachusetts.]
You say you've never heard of English Country Dancing? You're in good company, since many people are unfamiliar with it. But if you've watched Pride and Prejudice on tv, or seen Sense and Sensibility or Emma at the movies, you have indeed seen it. But fear not - English Country Dancing (ECD) is not the obscure relic you might think it to be! While this traditional form of dance has been around for several hundred years, it's still thriving today. There is English Country Dancing all over the United States.
For many, it's the music - hauntingly beautiful tunes that make the heart swell. Some dance tunes are taken from old ballads and political satire; others come from classical music and operas. This gives ECD music tremendous variety; sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes absolutely driven with a pulsating beat. All local dances feature live music, played by many of the area's most accomplished musicians. Others love ECD for the grace and elegance with which you glide as you dance. At times, you simply get swept away as you become one with the music. Many people love the beautiful patterns that you create as you dance and weave. Through it all, there's an indefinable quality to ECD that makes it energizing, mesmerizing, and just plain fun.
If you can walk and know the difference between left and right, you already have much of the basic knowledge you'll need. As we do it in the United States, most of the movements are based simply on a walking or skipping step. Dancers move in a number of specific "figures", sometimes holding hands, sometimes by themselves. Each dance is prompted by a caller, so that each figure and movement is called in time to the music; you don't need to rely on your memory alone to know what to do.
Partners are not necessary; you can come by yourself and be assured of dancing throughout the evening, since our tradition is to change partners for each dance. Local dances are social and friendly, and the atmosphere is informal. No special clothing is needed, other than clean, soft-soled shoes or sneakers. Interested in coming to try a bit of dancing, or simply to watch before you take the plunge?
Follow this link to find Regular English Dances in the US
Follow this link for more information on ECD and Contra history and differences
Follow this link to return to the ECD Home Page