Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

    4A-HEALTHY-BMI   48,336
40,000-49,999 SparkPoints

Contra Dancing - burning calories and socializing...

Monday, April 08, 2013

A little over a month ago XC ski season was winding down and the rivers hadnít really thawed enough to kayak on safely. And socially Iíve been a bit of a hermit over the winter, not really getting out there and meeting new people.

So I forced myself to go to a local contra dance, as a way to burn some calories and socialize. There are videos from that dance on YouTube.

I had such a good time Iíve been doing them pretty much weekly, ever since. And I even MET SOMEONE there. We have so much in common enjoying dancing and the outdoors that we eventually decided to become An Item. So, win. It worked beyond my wildest expectations. LOL

A brief search on for ďcontra danceĒ turns up no entries in the past year.

This is kind of surprising, given how friendly and inclusive the contra dancing community is - very much in line with the ethic.

So perhaps an explanation is in order (because many may have never heard of it). Itís a form of social North American folk dancing similar to square dancing, but a bit more athletic, and done to live traditional music. Itís family-friendly and usually alcohol-free. You can get more information at this page.

There are some helpful tips here:

There are dances scattered all over North America, and other places too. You can probably find one nearby:


Or just go to Google and search for your state and the term ďcontra dance.Ē

Itís a fun way to spend an evening. Admission at the door is typically between $5 and $10, depending on the event. For some of them, if you bring snacks they will waive admission. You donít need to know what youíre doing, and you donít need to bring a partner. Just bring a pair of soft-soled indoor shoes to dance in (so you wonít scratch or mar the wood floor).

You typically pair up with a different partner for each dance (women can ask men as well as vice-versa) and end up dancing with many people, as you and your partner progress down the line (sort of like in the Virginia Reel).

It is a fairly low-level cardio activity (compared with something like spin class), but the calories add up - according to my heart rate monitor I burn about 500 calories at a typical 3-hour dance (including breaks). I try to stay away from the cookies at the snack table (I sometimes bring a protein bar or two), so itís pretty safe food-wise. Perhaps I will start bringing baby carrots and hummus or sliced bananas as a healthy alternative.

The moves arenít terribly complicated, and the events are always beginner-friendly, and people will show you what to do and help nudge you in the right direction if you get lost. Sometimes there are lessons half an hour before the scheduled dance begins, so arriving early can be helpful. If you can walk, you pretty much can contra dance. I have arthritis in one of my knees and as long as I wear flats (no heels) it seems to be OK.

And hereís an added benefit - I can get used to how my ďnewĒ body moves, and dress it up in fun twirly skirts I find at Salvation Army. As a tomboy most of the time, itís neat to have an excuse to channel my Inner Femme. And I get used to physical contact with others, in a friendly, non-threatening format.

As someone who likes traditional acoustic folk music, I also find it enjoyable to hear (and dance to) live Irish, English, and Old-Time tunes played on guitars, fiddles, and other instruments (one recent band had a didgeridoo).

So, if you havenít tried it before, I encourage you to give contra dancing (or any other form of folk dancing) a shot. You have nothing to lose, and you might find a new way to enjoy burning some calories with your friends and family. You might even make NEW friends.


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
KIMMARIE11 6/8/2013 10:56AM

    Thank you for offering another way to burn calories and have fun at the same time. I will be checking local meetup groups ( to see if there are any contra-dancing groups in my area.

Report Inappropriate Comment
FITFRIT 6/5/2013 11:26PM

    Going to have to check this out

Report Inappropriate Comment
MOMKAT4310 6/5/2013 2:27PM

    Fantastic, and great to find an alternative activity. Loved your links.

Report Inappropriate Comment
LRSILVER 6/4/2013 8:13PM

    Awesome thanks

Report Inappropriate Comment
KAB7801 6/4/2013 7:32PM

    Thanks for the tips

Report Inappropriate Comment
VALERIEMAHA 6/4/2013 6:42PM

    What a trip! I would have had no clue about this blog, but I noticed Francesca had commented on YOUR blog about CONTRA dancing. And since I was still basking the the good vibes of your earlier note to me, AND was just about to send you one back, I decided to go to this blog (not knowing it wasn't written today! You already shared lots in your wonderful supportive note to me...and this blog gives me even more info. Funny, even before reading your blog about the batik "tailoring job" I had already started looking for contra dancing possibilities...and found one that meets twice a month about 40 min. from here. Sooooooo...the universe works in wondrous ways its wonders to perform! WATERMEllen wrote a series of awesome blogs about "Leaving It!" And Don (DDOORN) commented about being touch deprived and thus looking at dance and massage as ways to deal with that. I too need more touch, Don's response really resonated with me, and for that reason, among others, I decided to look into it..

So, my friend, again bowing in gratitude for the solidarity,

Report Inappropriate Comment
FRANCESCANAZ 6/4/2013 6:28PM

    Great!!! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
JACKIE542 6/4/2013 1:55PM

    What fun, thank you for sharing the links emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WINE4GIRL 6/4/2013 10:47AM

    How cool! Thanks for the links!

Report Inappropriate Comment
BOPPY_ 5/20/2013 3:19PM

    You go girl! emoticon

Wait, you've already gone. emoticon

Didn't wait. emoticon


Lee emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BESSHAILE 5/7/2013 7:34AM

    sounds like so much fun!

Report Inappropriate Comment
WATERMELLEN 5/1/2013 9:09PM

    Hey, how'd I miss this great blog? Sounds like so much fun . . . good exercise AND socializing and girly clothes (you look great) and becoming a new "item" too!! What's not to like?

Report Inappropriate Comment
DDOORN 5/1/2013 9:53AM

    The Swing Dance society down here in Endicott every Tues. is very similar: open, accepting, supportive anyone dancing with anyone. No smoking, no drinking, just people getting out to have a blast dancing the night away!

I'll have to catch up with Contra sometime...!


Report Inappropriate Comment
VTRICIA 4/26/2013 11:37AM

    I'm so checking this out.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WOLFKITTY 4/24/2013 11:02PM

    Love it!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SEPPIESUSAN 4/18/2013 10:26AM

    That sounds like fun!! Especially the part where you met someone, congrats! Not sure if it's anything like line dancing but my aunt does that at least three times a week to maintain her weight loss and she loves it.

Report Inappropriate Comment
ILOVEMALI 4/15/2013 2:58AM

    looks so fun!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KATHIC2 4/14/2013 10:04AM

  It is great fun!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KANOE10 4/10/2013 8:16AM

    Thanks for sharing. That sounds fun and I am glad you met someone to enjoy it with.

Report Inappropriate Comment
STARDUSTD 4/9/2013 8:47PM

  This blog gets an A simply for the fact you incorporated "didgeridoo."

Report Inappropriate Comment
CARRIE1948 4/9/2013 8:50AM

    When I'm out of casts, I'm coming along

Report Inappropriate Comment
NEW-CAZ 4/9/2013 3:02AM

    emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
KENDRACARROLL 4/9/2013 12:02AM

Awesome Anja! And good luck!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MEADSBAY 4/8/2013 8:28PM

    How absolutely emoticon


Report Inappropriate Comment
MKELLY72 4/8/2013 8:03PM

    This looks so fun!! Thanks for posting this! I wonder if there is anything around my neck of the woods.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MAUITN 4/8/2013 7:43PM

    Win win. Exercise and meeting someone!

Report Inappropriate Comment
VHALKYRIE 4/8/2013 7:35PM

    Sounds neat! So glad you have found something interesting to do!

And hurray for meeting someone!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MANDELOVICH 4/8/2013 7:19PM

    I love it - socializing and burning calories and having fun all in one! Great!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SUZYMOBILE 4/8/2013 7:10PM

    That sounds fabulous all around! A fun new activity, a fun new SO, getting out and about! Can't beat it!

Report Inappropriate Comment
TINAJANE76 4/8/2013 7:07PM

    Sounds awesome! Glad to hear that you're enjoying it so much.

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 4/8/2013 7:05PM


DO IT!!!


Or convince your bro to come out with you for one out here. We can kayak during the day and dance at night...

Comment edited on: 4/8/2013 7:07:14 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
LESLIELENORE 4/8/2013 7:03PM

    That is awesome that you Met Someone! There is contra dancing ay our local Grange, usually on the first Friday of the month. I have thought about going, but have chickened out every time.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

Log in to post a comment.

Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.