Dancing against the grain

Folk dance experiencing a revival

Contra Dancing will take place at the Errington Hall this weekend.

Contra Dancing will take place at the Errington Hall this weekend.

A lively, group folk dance is being introduced to Oceanside this weekend, complete with live music and lessons.

Contra dancing originated in the late 17th century as English court dancing and was taken up by the French, incorporating the “contra” part into the name. Contra means against, and alludes to the arrangement of the dancers. It became popular in the new world into the 19th century but fizzled out, and today is seeing a resurgence. The dances are similar to Ceilidh dancing but are traditionally done without alcohol and involve different steps.

Organizer Kathryn Gemmell first took the dance up in Nanaimo last fall. She has done all kinds of dance training in the past, including ballet, Latin, jazz, ballroom, African and modern but said this one stands out.

“I would say this is the most fun form [of dance] I’ve ever done, and I think it’s a real strong community builder.”

The dancing is done to Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton jigs and reels, and will be played by The Capering Fools, made up of fiddler Paul Gitlitz and guitar player Guy Langlois. 

Gitlitz began the successful contra dancing group in Nanaimo that Gemmell originally attended.

Gemmell said the dance steps are easy to learn and will be taught during the first half hour of the dance. She said contra dancing is becoming increasingly popular for the 20 to 30 year olds, and she has even seen a newer version of the dance that incorporates techno and pop elements.

The teacher, or “caller” of the dances is JD Erskine coming up from Victoria and Gemmell said he is a wonderful teacher who knows all the folklore surrounding the dances.

Come with or without a partner and dance as little or as much as you want, Gemmell said.

The dance takes place at the Errington Hall this Saturday, April 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $12 available at Cranky Dog Records in Parksville, Back Road Java in Errington and at the door. Ages 12 and up are recommended. For more information contact Kathryn at 250-248-9227 or e-mail kgcontra@yahoo.ca.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwalikum Secondary School. (SD69 photo)
COVID-19 case confirmed at Qualicum Beach high school

Public health staff are completing contact tracing

Adam Walker visits the VI Free Daily/PQB News studios. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Adam Walker eager to get to work as Parksville-Qualicum MLA

Podcast: Longtime Qualicum Beach resident discusses politics, much more

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Most Read