Monday, March 29, 2010

17. Participate in a contra dance

I don't know whether it's a Vermont thing, but lots of people I know contra dance. For anyone who isn't quite sure what that is, the best way I can describe it is as square dancing in two lines instead of squares of eight people. In fact, the two types of dancing are sometimes combined, with sets of both in the same evening, as they were the night we gave it a try. My colleague Will is a nationally-known artist, and though I didn't find out till last weekend, also known, and in high demand, across the country as a square dance caller. When there's a local opportunity to do either one he often posts to the rest of us, and so last Friday a bunch of us -- faculty, students and alumni -- answered the call. Will's the one wearing the vest in the picture standing next to my friend and colleague Crystal. By day Crystal teaches philosophy, and in the off-hours, she joins me in my New Things related to dance. Every Wednesday evening since mid-January we can be found at the Flynn Center in our ballet slippers working on our battements and rond de jambes (Crystal with much greater success than me).

One of the cool things about the evening is that it was very beginner-friendly. People who knew what they were doing were more than happy to partner with us newcomers, and we walked through all the steps of a dance before we actually all did it to music. Of course that didn't keep me from stepping on the toes of my friend and former student Derek while square dancing, and worse, completely messing up two whole rows of people in my first contra dance when I forgot to do my part of the "wave" (and if you want to know what that is, you'll just have to try it out for yourself sometime). I included some photos of some of my other friends who danced that night. There's one of Jerry, who teaches Journalism and Mass Communication and co-leads student trips to Tanzania with me, swinging Valerie, a wildly popular Education professor, and another of my student, friend and fellow AIDS activist, Madison (in the pink shirt) promenading, in addition to one of me swinging with a high school friend of Madison's. So there it is: free, friendly, and fun. Everyone should check it out sometime, and don't say "but I don't dance". Neither do I, but it's still a good time.

52 Ways to Say I Love You Setswana (spoken in Botswana), with many thanks to Heather B.who studied abroad there last year.

Hello: Dumela (Do-mel-a)
Good bye: Go Siame (Go Sia-may)
I love you: Ke a go rata (kay a go rata)
May I have two beers, please?: Ke Kopa biri tse pedi, tsweets tswe (kay kopa biri tsay pedi tsweets tsway)

Coming Attractions

As noted in my previous post on downhill skiing, Wednesday, March 31 is a museum field trip in the afternoon with my friend Kristin J. to the Camp Johnson Veterans Museum, and all this week and the following ones are multiple opportunities for lots of ice skating on Mondays (8:30 am), Wednesdays, (11:30 am) and possibly Fridays (11:30 am). I'll be going during my lunch hours at school for the Wednesday and Friday skates, so if someone wants to go over from campus with me, just let me know!

Dan and Nigel don't know it yet (though they will if they read this post), but I am about to hit them up on their offers to teach me bicycle maintenance, because it is clearly time to break out the bike this weekend, and my tires are feeling kind of flat. If I can talk one of them into giving me a lesson later this week or weekend, I'll post it on the Museum post.


  1. Contra Dancing was more fun than I thought it was going to be. If nothing else, it was a fantastic chance to do some people watching, or gazing into the eyes of an intense stranger who wants to dance with you.

    Oh, and that girl in the pink shirt is very attractive and clearly a professional at contra dancing.

  2. I'm so glad you made it to the contra dance! I had hoped to be there, but I did get back from my band trip just in time to catch the last 2 dances! Hope you enjoyed it!