Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some might think it's weird, but I grew up twirling in New England contra dance halls with my cousins and a random assortment of smelly old men with stringy hair and bad breath. And they were often wearing skirts. It's a family tradition. Contra dancing is America's rowdy & rebellious version of English country dancing. Like what you see on all those BBC Jane Austen films. I indoctrinated Clay while we were still dating and we even had our own family version at our wedding reception (minus the weird smelly men in skirts). My Auntie Jane plays some mean fiddle with one of contra dancing's living legends, Bob McQuillen (or Quacky Macky), and she is the reason why I play violin. And fiddle. This past weekend we drove up to Columbia to join the Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers Spring Breakdown that hosted my Auntie Jane's band, Old New England, as the guest musicians. It was a real honor to see Bob McQ again after all these years, to jam with him and Auntie Jane, and to dance the night away at the Stephen's college ballroom.

There's something so exhilarating about being a part of this colorful swirl of dancers in a big hall filled with swishing skirts, stomping feet, clapping hands and whoops of delight. And the music. You can't not dance to this music.

Welcome to the wonderful world of contra dancing.

P.S. Please note this video is from last year's spring breakdown which I did not attend. Actual footage & pictures from this year's event will be posted when I'm done cleaning up spilled paint & puppy messes.


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