List of Dances



Updated March 23, 2017

Articles & Excerpts

Chairman's Corner (Winter 2017)


       We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and now as we move into 2017 we look forward to a great year of dancing in all its forms, but especially Contra dancing. 

       Members of the CONTRLAB board are beginning to work on the details for the Energizer Dance on Tuesday evening, June 20, 2017 and the Wednesday morning CONTRALAB education program at the 66th National Square Dance Convention (NSDC) in Cincinnati.  Judy Weger and Lissa Bengston are two of the key players and we appreciate all the time and effort they put into this.  Hopefully we will have a big turnout. 

       Lissa has sent out a flyer requesting Contra prompters to sign up to prompt at the 66th NSDC.  Hopefully all those who would like to prompt at the 66th signed up prior to the January 15th deadline.  If you didn’t sign up in time there is always the possibility that there will be slots open during the Convention due to last minute cancellations, so be sure to check that out.   There should be some great Contra dancing at the Convention with live bands in the evening and a 4,200 sq ft Contra room.  We just need to fill that room up!


Duane Olson


Excerpts from the Winter 2017 Quarterly:
Dances for 8 or Less


Polka Mixer for 5 or 7 dancers:

(A variation on Children’s Polka)

Formation: Proper Contra lines with partners across and the spare dancer at the end


A1        Slide Up (Side, Close), Slide Up, Step, Step, Step

            Slide Down, Slide Down, Step, Step, Step

A2        Again:  Slide Up, Slide Up, Step, Step, Step

            Slide Down, Slide Down, Ready for the Claps


B1        Claps: Own Knees, twice, Own Hands, twice, Both hands with   

             Other, three times

            Claps again

B2        Dosado with the dancer across

            Slide left to find a new partner, (spare dancer in at one end and

             out at the other).


The Leaving of Liverpool

English Country Dance

(This triplet was called by Lissa Bengtson at Oklahoma City in 2013 and at Des Moines, Iowa in 2016.)

Formation:  Contra lines of three couples with partners facing across.

Music: Traditional Irish tune “Leaving of Liverpool” or some other 64-count reel.


A1        Forward and Back

            Centers Gatepost up

A2        Forward and Back

            Centers Gatepost down


B1        Circle Left

            Circle Right

B2        Top couple pass right sides, go down behind one dancer and

             into the middle,

            Active couple pass right sides again, go down behind one

            dancer to the bottom



Gatepost up: The center dancers hold adjacent hands with the dancer above and those two pivot full around using the top dancer as the gatepost and the center dancer as the swinging gate.

Gatepost down: The same action as above, except the gatepost is the bottom dancer.

Last 16 beats: The top dancers go across the set passing right sides with their partner, then out and down behind the second dancer. The actives come into the center again passing right sides with their partner as they cross over, and finish by going down behind the third dancer to end at the bottom of the set.


Billingsdale Pattern

Author: Chip Hendrickson, New York

Source:  American Square Dance Magazine, Moore on Contra, May 2012

Formation:  Two Couples starting with men on the outside facing in and the ladies on the inside, back to back, facing their partners.  

[1]> <(1) (2)> <[2]

Music:  Any well-phrased reel


A1  Pass partner right, Hey for four

       (continue Hey)

A2  Partner Dosado

       Same dancers Swing ending facing the other couple with the lady

       on gent’s right

B1  Circle Left

       Circle Right

B2  Ladies right turn (pigeon wing) once and a half to face the opposite

       Gent.  Those facing turn left full around and end facing each other.

       (See repeats)


Repeat a total of four times with different starts each time:

   The second time through the dance starts with the ladies in the center again but facing the other man.

   At the end of the second time through change the action for the final eight beats.  Dancers should have their original partner. The partners turn each other once and a half and then face each other placing the gents in the middle.

   The final time again turn once and a half and end facing each other to begin with the gents in the middle facing the other lady.



Hey for Four:  Ladies pass gent by right, loop to the right, pass the other gent by the right, pass the other lady by the left and repeat.  Gents pass lady by right, pass the other gent by the left, pass the other lady by the right, loop to the right and repeat.



Contras for Introductory Events

We received a request to feature some simple whole set contra dances appropriate for introductory or party events.  Dottie Welch sent us the following dances which are done from parallel lines with partners facing across.  All of the actions are danced either by the whole set or by just the top or bottom couples.  Traditionally the gents are in the line on the caller’s right and the ladies are in the line on the caller’s left. (These are called Proper Lines.) If you have same gender partners, you may want to name the two lines something appropriate for easy reference.


Formation:  Longways for 4 to 6 couples with partners facing (no gender differentiation)Music:  Something with a French-Canadian flavor

A1     Long Potato Circle Left (16 beats) (all dancers make one long, skinny circle)
A2     Long Potato Circle Right (16 beats)
B1     Partners Turn by the Left Arm (pigeon wing) (8 beats)
         Partners Turn by the Right Arm (pigeon wing) (8 beats)
B2     Long Lines Forward and Back (8 beats)
         Top Couple Sashay (or Strut) to the foot (8 beats)


GOTHIC DANCETraditional (in Contra Syllabus from 61st NSDC in Spokane, Washington)
The Gothic Dance gets its name from the gentlemen raising their arms for the dive through.  Their arms make a long line of pointed arches like a Gothic Cathedral.Presenter: Gary Chamberlain, See for music information.  See for Old Glory Vintage Dancers at the Dicken’s Christmas Ball in West Jordan, Utah, December 2010.
Formation: Proper contra lines of four to six couplesMusic:  Civil War Ballroom by Spare Parts (32 bar jig or reel)

A1     Ladies Advance - - Retreat,
          Men Arch (Ladies duck through, all turn alone)
A2     Ladies Advance - - Retreat,
          Men Arch (Ladies duck through, all turn alone)
B1     Top Four Circle Left 3/4 (Gents facing up)
          Gents Arch, Ladies run (right shoulder) around partner to face him,
B2     Partners join both hands and turn clockwise 1/4,
          Both couples Sashay to the foot


Seasonal Dances (from the Fall 2016 Quarterly):


Fall Colors

Author: Pat Kelm

Formation: Alternate Duple

Music: CD-Contra Music, the Sound of New England. Track #9 O'Donal Abhu/Rocks of Brae/Meeting of the Waters from New England Chestnuts Vol. 2 - Rodney Miller, Randy Miller & Friends.  Or New Waterloo Reel.


Starting with a wave of 4 (women with left hands joined)

A1  Balance R & L, Slide R nose to nose

      Balance L & R, Slide L nose to nose

A2 Turn half by R, Men turn half by L (Swing Thru)

      Swing Partner

B1  R & L Thru across

       Circle L 3/4

B2  Face Nabor & Dosado

       Pass Thru & step to wave


Geud Man of Ballangigh – submitted by Dottie Welch

English Country Dance

Formation: Proper Duple

Music: "Geud Man of Ballangigh" 


A1  Relay – Couple #1 Lead Down between 2's and Cast Up the 

       outside to place

       Men Lead Across between ladies and separate around Ladies

       back to place

A2  Couple #2 Lead Up between 1's and Cast Down the outside to


       Ladies Lead Across between Gents and separate around Gents

       back to place

B1  # 1 Man Set to the # 2 Lady and Turn Single (solo turn to right)

            # 1 Lady Set to the # 2 Gent and Turn Single

B2  All Four Circle Left Half around and Fall Back 4

      All Set (advancing forward) to Right and to Left, Pass Thru & Turn




Relay:  The active Couple begins by leading down the center, split the inactive couple, separate and go around the inactive dancer back to place.  One of the two dancers will smoothly transition into the next part of the Relay as described.

Set is a small leap diagonally forward and to the Right, leap left across in front of right putting weight on toes, then leap weight back onto right foot.  Then take a small leap diagonally forward and to the Left, leap right across in front of left putting weight on toes, then leap weight back onto left foot.