Join the Friends of Appalachian Music at a monthly contra dance

Get in the dancing spirit with the Friends of Appalachian Music at the group’s monthly contra dancing class in the Norge Community Hall March 2.

Longtime member Karen Berquist said the Friends of Appalachian Music formed in 1981 as a band of William and Mary students, which has since evolved into a network of contra dancing lovers that has hosted monthly dances in Norge for over three decades.

But what is contra dancing? Berquist said pairs of dancers start by forming two parallel lines and wait for direction from a “caller.” The caller then gives the crowd simple instructions like stepping forward or back in time with the music, or more complicated instructions like forming simple figures.

“In this dance, you and your partner dance with another couple, and then you move on through the line to the next,” she said. “Part of what makes contra dancing different is that with a smaller set of figures, the caller drops out and people can just follow the music.”

Berquist said the monthly series brings out dancers both young and old. Each event usually attracts between 40 and 60 dancers, she said.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed is that as kids from the college come, sometimes they seem surprised to see older adults having a hoot of a good time,” she said. “I’ve always heard people tell me that they feel extremely welcome in the family-friendly environment.”

Want to go?

The Friends of Appalachian Music contra dancing class will gather 7:30-10 p.m. March 2 in the Norge Community Hall on Richmond Road. There is a suggested donation of $5. For more information, email Berquist at kaberq@gmail.com.

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