East York contra dance welcomes newcomers

'We don’t expect people to be good at it, we just expect them to have fun.'

The Toronto Contra Dance is a dancing session that features Scott-Irish and French-Canadian music and a basic dancing class. It was held Sept. 29 at the St. Barnabas Anglican Church on Danforth Ave.
Contra dance community members take part in a recent Saturday night event. Contra dancing is similar to square dancing except dancing is done in lines of pairs.   Doha Hanno/Toronto Observer

Becky Liddle dances till her face hurts.

“I tried five kinds of dances in 10 days when I first decided to start dancing, and this is the only one that made my smiling muscles sore,” says Liddle, president of the contra dance community.

The Toronto Contra Dance is a community event that features Scots-Irish and French-Canadian live music. The latest was held Sept. 29 at St. Barnabas on the Danforth Anglican Church.

Contra dance is similar to square dancing except that you dance in lines and don’t need an eight-person square. Long lines of pairs will do. A caller leads the dancers through each step.

“We don’t expect people to be good at it, we just expect them to have fun,” Liddle says. “When you mess up, you just smile because everyone else is smiling and we send you in the right direction and everybody has fun.”

The group has been holding dances for 20 years. There are many experienced dancers and they usually look for newcomers to partner up with and help along. Dancers change partners with each song and everyone is a friendly.

“It’s a really welcoming group of people,” Liddle says. “I came by myself the first time, but I never sat out a dance even though I came alone.”

This winter, the Toronto Contra Dance community will hold a bake-sale fundraiser. Over 95 per cent of the proceeds will go toward the band, caller and venue.

You can stop by at 7 p.m. every second, fourth and fifth Saturday from now till June for a basics class before that evening’s dance. For more information, visit www.tcdance.org.

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Posted: Oct 1 2018 11:48 am
Filed under: News