Can I Have this Dance?

Old Man Winter is getting ready to pack up his bags and head out. I realized that this morning when I saw two Canada Geese at my small pond. The 12-month resident, the Egret, was there as well.

My horses were keeping their distance. It takes my horses a while every year to get used to small, noisy, bossy geese when they return from their winter vacation elsewhere. The geese, with their aggressive charging and honking, run my horses away from the pond.

Three great, magnificent, powerful horses bullied by geese. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.


I watch as the geese run and dance around the pond and then glide into the water. Oh, now I see that there’s a duck swimming in the pond too. It was true what I heard about ponds, “build it and they will come.”

I also have the usual visitors in the horse pasture this morning, a large flock of turkeys. They come almost every day, either in the morning or late in the day. Today the males are showing off their impressive spread of feathers. Dance, dance, dance.

The other dancing I often see out of my kitchen window is performed by young deer. The older deer munch and graze while the youth frolic, bounce, charge, and dance. It dawns on me that I must go out into the field later today to do my own dance, my snow dance. Now that I’ve seen the geese, I know nature is preparing for the arrival of spring.

Wait, not so fast. Don’t go yet, Old Man Winter! Pull up a chair and stay a little longer. How about gifting me a fantastic snow in March? (Thanks in advance, Sir.)

I did another type of dancing recently, it’s called “Contra Dancing.” Until I moved here to the Appalachian Mountains, I had never heard of this type of dance. I heard that a Contra Dance was being held at an old school gym near me. I looked Contra Dancing on YouTube. The funny thing is that the first video I watched was of a Contra Dance in Atlanta. All the years I lived there, I had never ever heard of it.

Oh, this looked like a blast! I thought it was like Square Dancing, but it is very different. I decided to get up the courage and go. Did I know what I was doing? Nope. Am I a good dancer? Nope. Could I talk anyone into going with me? Negatory. Am I spastic and self-conscious on the dance floor? Yep. Should be a crazy fun evening!


I arrived early at the old gym. This building is no longer a school. It was built in the 1940s as part of the Work Projects Administration (the WPA) created by the New Deal. It’s a beautiful building, said to be made from stone gathered at nearby farms and the mortar made from sand from the creek closeby.


Seeing this old phone as I walked into the door of the gym made me feel nostalgic. I didn’t have on my reading glasses, so I wound up including the shadow of my cell phone in the lower right hand corner of the photo. I like the CONTRA-st.


I took a seat on the creaky old wooden bleachers in this old gym to wait for the dancing “instructions” to begin. They always offer 30 minutes of instruction prior to the dances. A woman sat beside me and began changing her shoes, putting on some special dancing shoes. I had my usual Converse on. I was feeling intimidated already. “Um, do you need special shoes to do this?”

“Oh, no. It’s just that soft soled shoes will keep you spinning and light on your feet.” (I don’t know what it would take for me to be light on my feet and spinning, but I doubted shoes would do it. Unless, of course, they were magical slippers.)

As we chatted some more, she assured me that there would be lots of beginners there, for me to not worry, to just have fun.

“You’ve come to the right place if you want to be smiling for the next 3 hours!” she said.

OH, I WANTED THAT. Like you can’t imagine. I got a button to wear (to warn folks to watch their toes, I think.)


Soon the instruction began.


And so. The smiling began as I tried to learn a few steps. My face smiled, my feet smiled, my soul smiled. (Bahahaha, I just corrected a type-o on that last one. I had written “my soup smiled.” That too, I guess. Face, feet, soul and soup.)

Those 30 minutes went by very quickly. Very. Ready or not (I was not), it was time for the real thing. The crowd had arrived, and the band had warmed up. The band, which was set up at one end of the gym, had a fiddle, a mandolin, and a keyboard. They also had boards under their feet that they tapped on with their shoes.


There was a caller with a microphone, who told dancers which dance steps to do and when to do them.

We lined up and Okey Dokey! Here! We! Go!


The music was live, very Celtic and folksy sounding to me. It was frilly and waltzy and jiggy and airy. Spinny! Light, not heavy. 

The first hour was incredible fun, fun, fun. You change partners after every dance, so I got the chance to be both the lady and the gent. As you dance, you move down your line and dance with everybody in it. I got the chance to dance with excellent dancers and new dancers like myself. It was indeed a blast!


Things got hard after the first hour. The dance steps were more complicated; there were quicker changes. The caller didn’t call as much. I couldn’t keep up. So I took my seat in the bleachers and became a spectator.


This is when I really noticed something about the event. I noticed a wide range of shoes, clothes, people, and vibes. Some people were bare-footed. Some had on hiking boots. Others wore fancy dance shoes. Some men wore skirts; some women wore special twirly dresses. And some folks had on jeans, like me. I saw a few guys with dreads and a few women too. Man buns. Some people looked conservative. I saw lots of gray hair and just one child. There were high school and university students.

Old, young. Hip, square. Fast, slow. Rich, poor. Dem or Repub. All dancing together. All smiling at each other.

I loved that this Contra Dance thing brought together everyone.

Think about it. Everyone everywhere is arguing about everything. But not here, not in this old school gym on a Saturday night.

All I can say is: go to one if you have the chance. Smiles all around.

Until next time, Friends, DANCE.

Lots of love and smiles, Rebekah, The City Farmgirl

Leave a comment 16 Comments

  1. Ramona Puckett says:

    Love this! I’m glad you went and had a good time!

  2. I love dancing! Out here in CA, we’ve been exposed to something similar that’s called “Renaissance Dance.” Think Jane Austen. They’re all old country dances from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is so much fun! Sadly, there’s no group within an hour-and-a-half of us, so we can’t do it on a regular basis. We only get to do it once a year when we go to BayCon, our favorite science fiction convention. I must say, the people in your photos certainly look like the know what they are doing! I hope you can keep going to the dances.

  3. Cindy says:

    Never heard of it ! Sounds like in ! lOVE the old fashion way of life ! I LOVE my farm and the small towns surrounding me ! Saw a robin for the first time out my kitchen window ! Wowo! First sign of spring! Yeeeeehaaaaw !!

  4. Mary Rauch says:

    What a breath of fresh air! I never heard of Contra Dancing. So many people in there having a good time! I agree that the world needs lots more of this!

  5. Laura R. says:

    Very cool, and fun! And new to me too, thanks for sharing and for being adventurous enough to try it out on your own :)))

  6. Marlene Capelle says:

    How refreshing. Must check into this.

  7. What a wonderful picture you painted of people from all walks of life coming together to dance. When I hear critics saying they just can’t find a way to make peace, I point to things like this, or the Olympics, and say: “See? It can be done.” People will come together for a common cause. Who knows? Maybe the geese and the horses will learn to get along?

  8. Marilyn says:

    I have seen a few geese in V form. Sounds like you had a good time dancing. Thank You for sharing.

  9. Diane Van Horn says:

    I watched the video on you tube and man, does that look like fun! Good for you to have the courage to go. Maybe next time you can get your Hubby or Daughter to join you.

  10. We’ve been holding regular contra dances in our little one-room school house ever since I moved here in 1986. It’s true. It’s a snapshot of people at their very best. Call me soupy, but I’m always a sappy mess by the time I’ve smiled and danced for three hours. Soul food indeed, plus we often include a pot-luck meal with our contra dances.

  11. Joan says:

    Oh what great ole memory you have brought forward!! Our room wasn’t as big but we filled it and had so much fun. We called it ‘come n dance’ of course there was a great buffet. Hope you get to do it again and enjoy even more. God bless.

  12. Judy says:

    WOW! I watched that video and it reminded me of an ant-farm… every-body moving constantly and in rows across the gym. Amazing! I have 2 left feet and I’m sure it would be a disaster for me…or my partner, or my other partner, or my other partner, since you don’t have just one. Barefoot? Ya, that person is just asking for it… and I’d oblige them. hahahaha
    We are having a few nice warm days too. 60’s, sunny, nice. What did I do? Cleaned all my cupboards, upper and lower… for 2 days. *sigh*
    Did I mention we are expecting snow Friday… and one day next week too? Only an inch each time though. Spring is out there gals! It really is!

  13. Wendy Curling says:

    I just love the way you write! I feel like I’m right along side of you on every adventure! So much fun!!

  14. Renee Fisher says:

    I lived in Asheville, NC for 7 years and went to contradances weekly. I loved that so many people could have so much fun without alcohol being involved! No partner was necessary as every dance is danced with a different partner. The music is always live, and by the end of the dance your cheeks hurt from smiling so much. There are no contradances where I live now, and it’s a crying shame! I hope you continue to treat yourself to the happiest form of exercise on the planet!

  15. Sandi King says:

    Wow! that was amazing and exciting and just plain wonderful. I love to dance but don’t know how and I am clumsy, go figure! I do slow dances with a partner okay as long as I can follow but for a dance like this I would be going in all the wrong directions. LOL. Loved watching them on the tube though. Hope you continue to go and have a lot of fun. Thanks for a great time here. I really enjoyed it.

  16. Kare says:

    Thanks, I was smiling as I read this I’ll have to look for those in my area. If they don’t have one , maybe I could be a part of getting one together.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>