Asheville Citizen-Times
Contra dancing delights senses
by Corey McClintock
published June 18, 2007 12:15 am

Summer has arrived, blessing me with its abundance of wonders (which includes the benefits of sleep). I find myself enjoying my work and my extended freedom. Most of all, I enjoy my freedom to escape the house and the desk and have fun.

I recently dipped into an old tradition, and have decided to make the new experience a part of all of my Thursday evenings. I am talking about the Old FarmerÕs Ball, more commonly known as the Contra Dance, which takes place every Thursday evening out at Warren Wilson College.

I had been warned that the affair was addicting and hypnotic, but I couldnÕt fully realize its effects until I had actually tried to spin my way across the dance floor, and came off it laughing with relief as much as enjoyment. I say ŌtriedĶ because all the swirling and switching is by no means easy; yet it is the kind of challenge that no one has to push me to rise to. And though it was hard, I tried not to let my beginner status hold me back, allowing myself to benefit from the welcoming and helpful environment. I also engaged in the beginnerÕs course that took place at 7:30, before the dancing actually began.

Quite a workout

ItÕs blazing hot inside of the barn, but in the fun and sticky way that causes you to persist past such discomforts. You wonÕt die as long as you sustain yourself by dashing for a drink of water between dances. The smart people get their gulps from their own bottles. The new, the forgetful, and those who enjoy waiting, tap their feet in the extensive line, anxious to spend a few moments relieving the fearsome parch. Of course, it is often very difficult to achieve respite (hydrate) without missing a dance. IÕll attest to the fact that sitting out a dance is not such a bad thing, especially if you step outside where it is somewhat cooler, and where you are able to attempt to stop your brain from wheeling.

One of the best things about the dance was the vast jumble of people and style. The age ranged from ancient to those who could dance as well as they could walk, along with plenty of youth and college students. The levels of experience included the wonderfully good and horribly intimidating dancers, those working their way up to such heights, and other people like me who had never previously understood what it really meant to balance, or swing for that matter. The variety of style was quite invigorating; I would say it generated energy as much as anything else.

I got a kick out of seeing all different sorts of people getting along, and celebrating rather than disputing such differences, achieving the same ends while enjoying the means. After all, we all just wanted to dance.

Corey McClintock is an Owen High School sophomore. She plays the mellophone in the Warhorse Regiment Marching Band, and the French horn in symphonic and orchestra settings. She runs cross country and track and lives in Black Mountain.

Return to the articles section of the web site.
Produced by Charlie Seelig
This page last updated on October 30, 2007.