About Our Dances

We offer five different types of evenings - Try Each of them!

  • Contra Dances – These energetic evenings are modeled after traditional barn dances that were the primary social event in American towns for much of the last 300 years. We include a lesson to help you feel more comfortable with the dance figures, we teach every dance, and we feature great live string bands each night.  You and a partner dance with other couples throughout the dance, following a caller's prompts.  Afterwards, everyone changes partners.

    The video to the right shows a contra dance from November 2011 featuring the Boney Goat Band, Martha Edwards calling. (After starting the video, click on at the lower right-hand corner of the video to make it bigger.)
  • Callers Choice Dances – These are contra dances where the calling responsibility is shared by several callers.  While the majority of dances are the same as at our regular contra dance nights, other styles are included periodically.

    The video to the right shows a Callers Choice dance from December of 2009, when Smuggler's Cargo made its Childgrove debut. Three callers are shown - Martha Edwards, David Keller and Karen Jackson - and there's a waltz at the end.

  • English Country Dances – English is the grandparent dance of Contra dancing - think Jane Austen movies.  You will experience a wide range of tempos, formations and music styles. Some dances are elegant and sweeping, others are energetic and lively (they are, after all "country" dances, even if British and French aristocracy loved to dance them. George Washington loved to dance them, too!). Each month we host one workshop and one full night of English Country Dancing.  The workshops use recorded music and the callers offer helpful tips for the dancers.

    The video to the right shows some of our local English Country Dancers in a Dance Discovery performance at the Missouri History Museum with music from the Tu'Penny Players. Our regular dances are generally more casual, but we do like to dress up a bit from time to time, particularly at our quarterly Balls.
  • Waltz Parties –  This is an evening of waltzes and other easy couples dances. Scattered between the waltzes you will be offered polkas, tangos, schottisches and other similar dances.  Don’t be afraid to try them all.  We offer a lesson before each night and you will always find someone eager to help you learn. You can use your waltz skills at our contras and English dances, too!

    The video to the right shows some waltzing at a Waltz Party from June of 2012, with music from the Halcyon Light Orchestra.
  • Family Dance 01
    Family Dances -  The Family Dances are currently on hiatus until we can find a new sponsor to help with marketing and a bit of the organizing. They are one-hour dances with simple, fun dances anyone can do, to live music.  Children come with their parents - or grandparents.  If we set it up again the way we did before, with a regular contra dance following the Family dance, folks who want to stay for the regular dance can participate at no extra charge. 

What can you expect at our dances?

At our dances, you will:

  1. Feel at ease because all our dances include lessons, are designed to be friendly to new dancers, and welcome dancers of all skill levels.
  2. Meet helpful partners who enjoy dancing with new dancers, who will help you learn the steps easily, and who change partners after every dance
  3. Enjoy quality live music and trained callers and dance leaders.
  4. Recognize many of the same people you meet at any of our dances, people who are here to have fun and are glad to see you return.

What Kind of Music will you Dance to?

St Louis is lucky to have so many fine musicians who enjoy playing for our dances, so you will dance to live music at all of our regular dances. We do dance to recorded music at our pre-dance workshops and at the first Monday English workshop, though occasionally they, too, will have a live band.

At our contra dances, the music is generally old-time traditional Missouri fiddle music, played, typically, by a fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar.  The Callers Choice dances often feature wider variety of regional styles, including New England, Irish, French Canadian as well as old-time string bands. The English dances have music that will remind you of classical music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, even though some of the tunes are modern. The Waltz party band usually has a fiddle or two, a flute and/or a clarinet, a keyboard and a bass, and plays music from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, or modern tunes that sound as if they were written then.