Contra dancing is a type of community dancing with roots in English country dancing. Participants dance with a partner and interact with other couples, much like in square dancing. Like square dancing, contra dancing also features a caller. The dances taught were not too complicated in nature and once everyone got the basic gist of it, we jumped right in, Christine Coleman '08 said. The caller, Frederick Park, was hilarious and really fun.
Park, a nationally renowned dance caller and instructor, led the movements on Saturday and taught a pre-dance lesson at 7 p.m. Contratopia, a quartet that has played in various locations across the country, played from 7:30-10:30 p.m. The band also provided the music for the Northfield Winter Stomp. They enjoyed Northfields energy so much that they offered to become the citys house band for future contra dances.
Though the dance took place at Carleton, Oles were welcome and many attended. We definitely had more St. Olaf students at this dance, said Carleton Adjunct Professor of Religion Susie Nakasian, and they all seemed to be having a great time. Nakasian is a member of the Northfield Community Contra Dance Association and hopes to host a similar dance at St. Olaf in the future. She was pleased to see Oles and Carles talking it up and dancing and helping each other on Saturday night.
Sarah Steichen '08 also enjoyed the interaction between different age groups. Its really refreshing to see the kids running around and [to] be able to dance with the older folks. It is so fun, especially when you have no idea what you are doing, she said. Steichen summed up the event as a night of spinning and smiling and definitely plans on attending future Northfield contra dances.
General admission for the dance was free for St. Olaf and Carleton students and $5 per person or $20 per family. In honor of Earth Day, the proceeds will go toward the Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) and Shepherds Way Farm.
Two more contra dances are on the calendar for next year: the Northfield Harvest Stomp on Oct. 22, and the second-annual Northfield Winter Stomp on Feb. 22.