C is for Contra, and Clogging

Posted by on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

C is for Contra dance, and Clogging–two long-standing passions of mine (and two things that are downright tough to photograph).

I haven’t talked about either enough here on the blog, because I’ve been dealing with a few chronic injuries over the last several years, and it’s been keeping me off the dance floor more than I would like.  But I should talk about dance.  When someone asks me about myself, “folk dancer” is one of the first descriptors I blurt out.  I dance in my dreams.  I was in a clogging troupe in college, and it changed so much about my life I barely have words to describe it.  Teaching other people to dance is an avocation for me–so many of the dance forms I love can only be transmitted from dancer to dancer over years of interaction, and I hate to think any of the steps would fall out of the communal repertoire  So when I got the go-ahead from my physical therapist, I  checked out the Glen Echo dance schedule so I could start getting back on the floor and also take some photos for you crazy kids.

And that’s when I saw that my friend Morna was in town from Montana to call the Friday night dance, with the open band as her musicians.  Talk about serendipity.

The dance community at Glen Echo has been hoofing for decades, hosting two weekly contras and scads of other social dances year-round.  I started dancing there when I was 16 or 17–I can’t count the number of hours of fun I’ve had, or the steps and dances I’ve learned, or the fantastic bands and callers I’ve heard.

And as if getting to dance while one of my good friends is calling wasn’t good enough, Brooke and the kids were there too, as were my friends Joni and Adrian, and several other dancers I haven’t seen in far too long.

When I Contra dance, I clog.  When I first started hitting percussive licks on the floor of the Spanish Ballroom, I can’t say it was generally well-received.  Back in the day, clogging was seen as anathema to the soft, whooshing sound of feet gliding over the dance floor during a contra.  I was too loud for many of the dancers–my feet were loud, and my hair was unnaturally bright, and my clothes were just plain too strange.  Times have changed.  Lots of folks clog during the contras these days, and some guys wear skirts, and I no longer look like the punk rocker I still am at heart.

(Morna took pictures of my feet, and I took pictures of hers–it’s like yarn-porn, but with worn old dancing shoes)

In the spirit of me dancing more, and teaching other folks to clog (while also reducing allergens and improving the resale value of our house) we’re gearing up to remove all of the carpeting in our house and replace it with 1,400 square feet of bamboo.  Hot dog, I can’t wait.  Come for lessons, friends.  You just have to know how to walk and how to count to eight.

Filed in ABC along,Celtic,dance | 10 responses so far

10 Responses to “C is for Contra, and Clogging”

  1. kon 13 Feb 2008 at 9:17 am 1

    Carpeting is the work of the devil, as far as I’m concerned. But what a wonderful reason to get rid of it! (the dancing, I mean.)

  2. Jenniferon 13 Feb 2008 at 10:39 am 2

    Oh, I love Glen Echo! I used to live right near there, back in my young, single days :-D.

    The dancing sure looks fun.

    Cool about Brooke being there, too ~ I get to see her once in a while, too (and we get our milk from the same farm).

    Happy Dancing!

  3. Taraon 13 Feb 2008 at 10:47 am 3

    I contra danced for the first time Saturday night at the open dance in Harpers Ferry! What fun. I’ll definitely do it again. But, if you go to the Glen Echo dance without letting me know again, you are in some serious trouble!! 😉

  4. minnieon 13 Feb 2008 at 11:00 am 4

    i want to take ball room dancing lessons. hubby is VERY iffy about it, though (he’s 6’8″,a nd has 2 left feet, according to him). he was hardpressed to dance with me at our wedding, lol (it was the ONLY dance, lol)

    when i was a kid, i got to do a thing where you got to choose what you wanted to do, and i took dance. i love to move to music (and i need to get off the ever-spreading backside anyway, lol)

  5. elleryon 13 Feb 2008 at 12:27 pm 5

    I went to Glen Echo once for a Contra dance when I was house sitting for my aunt who lived in Vienna. It was one of those really fun times that you think about long after it has happened. I haven’t had a chance to go to any of the Louisville dances, and it is one of those things that I always want to make time for, but, sadly, i don’t.

  6. megon 13 Feb 2008 at 8:33 pm 6

    Amen. Go dancing, everyone. (So, Lanea, you’re coming to the UC dance weekend in April, then? I have an agenda.)

  7. Aeson 14 Feb 2008 at 7:30 am 7

    Let’s get that ball rolling! Will you come to my house and teach clogging on Sunday March 2?

  8. Vickion 16 Feb 2008 at 8:13 am 8

    I think your photos turned out GREAT! What a wonderful “C”! Thanks.

  9. Vickion 16 Feb 2008 at 8:13 am 9

    I think your photos turned out GREAT! What a wonderful “C”! Thanks.

  10. Lellaon 21 Feb 2008 at 7:30 pm 10

    I love the old country dances, like the ones in the Jane Austin films. And Contra is new to me. Thanks for all the pictures!

    We put in approx 1600 feet of ceramic tile(bamboo probably would have been better) and love it very much. We did this because of my allergies and it’s helped. Best wishes on moving things around. We did get a storage which we couldn’t have done without. Hope yours is everything you hope for!

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