Contra dancing returns for summer

The Southern Nevada Old Time Contra Dancers will return to the historic Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building Saturday for its first of three monthly summer dance sessions.

Introductory lessons will be held from 6:30-7 p.m. so that newcomers have the opportunity to learn the calls and steps before the official dance, which runs from 7-9:30 p.m.

Contra dance is a North American folk dance with roots in English and Scottish country dances, according to the group’s vice president, Renee Halm.

“Contra dancing is related to square dancing, which is probably more famous, with similar calls like ‘do-si-do,’” Halm said. “It has older origins, but it’s actually much easier to learn. After the half-hour class, attendees will be able to enjoy the full evening of dancing, or enjoy contra anywhere else in the country.”

In contra dancing, men and women line up across from each other, and alternating in a line and then move through a progression of called-out steps before moving on to a new partner, according to the group’s treasurer and “caller,” Eileen Hug.

“We encourage dancers of every age group and all levels of experience,” Hug said. “It’s a great way to socialize as people will likely interact with almost every person there and dance with every available partner. And it’s great exercise, recent studies have shown it is one of the most effective ways to combat Alzheimer’s and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Dancers at all three summer events will enjoy live music performed by locals Sagebrush and Shamrocks, as well as 112 and Then Some. The two bands will mix things up by appearing in alternate months.

The fun won’t end with the final summer dance in September as the group will return Oct. 29, just in time for Halloween, with its annual “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” themed costume ball.

The Pride and Prejudice and Zombie dance will be more focused on English and Scottish country dancing, and anyone looking to attend is encouraged to learn the steps at one of the group’s weekly sessions in Las Vegas.

For more information, visit las
or call 702-303-3020.