Dancing at the Footmad Weekend in Mentone, August 2005

What is Contra Dancing?

Contra is traditional New England folk dancing. Americans have enjoyed contra dances since Revolutionary times. They combined ideas from French and English country dancing with their own way of having fun and came up with contra dancing. It's a social dance akin to square dancing which has retained its simple, open, community-oriented spirit. 

Contra dancing is great exercise and great fun enjoyed by people of all ages and life-styles. It shares some elements with square dancing such as "swing your partner" and "do-si-do," but the couples form long lines rather than squares. It involves mixing with the other dancers as each couple does a set of other figures, called by a caller, with another couple before progressing to a new couple and repeating the routine.

The Chattahoochee Country Dancers (Atlanta) have produced 9 short videos teaching the basic moves of contra dancing.  You can view them by going to the CCD website of www.ContraDance.org and clicking on What's Contra Dancing?  Then scrolling down to one of the 9 videos.  You can also locate the videos by doing a You Tube search for "contra dance" or "contra dance training."


Live music, good dancing and nice company are what you will find at Birmingham Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance. We hope you will dance with us often and consider becoming a FOOTMAD member.

Our goal is to promote traditional dance and music. Dances are organized and run by members. Steering committee meeting dates are published in the monthly newsletter, and all are invited to attend. There is a place for everyone.

Dances are held on the second Saturday of each month, with some additional dances and parties during the year. A warm-up session starts at 7:30 and dancing at 8:00. Warm-up sessions give new and experienced dancers a chance to meet and go over the basic dance moves and techniques before the dance begins. Admission is $8 for non-members, $6 for members and students and $3 for children under 14; free for children under 3. Newcomers are given a coupon for one free dance when they return.

Once the evening begins a caller will explain every new dance. He or she walks the dancers through each one to teach the sequence of moves before the music begins. The caller continues to call the moves throughout the dance.

Donít worry about bringing a dance partner. You will find a lot of friendly dancers, but donít wait for one to ask you to dance. Feel free to ask someone you havenít met yet. At FOOTMAD men ask women to dance, women ask men to dance, women ask women to dance and men ask men to dance. The only rule is to have fun!

Children are welcome at dances. They can join the dancing or just enjoy the music. There is a space at the end of the hall reserved for children to play in.

Dances end around 11:00. We can always use help cleaning up and taking down the sound equipment.

We hope that you will become a member of FOOTMAD. Memberships are $10 per year for individuals and $15/yr. for families. To ensure prompt delivery to an out of town address, please add $3 for first class postage. With your membership in FOOTMAD each dancer in your family will save $1 on dance admission. You will also receive our monthly newsletter and get news of upcoming dances in Birmingham as well as those in surrounding communities. In addition you will receive a FOOTMAD phone directory. Most of all, your membership fees help keep us dancing.

All dances are held at the YWCA, 2300 3rd Avenue North. Park in the lot beside the YW on 3rd Ave. North, as we have a security guard there.