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Kari Usher with Judy, Jacquie, & Elena (40-80 people) ("2nd Saturday Contra")

This dance almost always has 40-80 people, not just people from Meetup. The dance is almost always equal men and women, within 5 or 10 people. 20-minute break to meet people. Group dinner beforehand!

Official website:

Phoenix Traditional Music & Dance (

This is our second Saturday dance at Kenilworth school. We have a live band! And Free snacks! A half-hour lesson starts at 7:00. All are encouraged to join or help with the lesson. Please come 10 minutes before 7:00, to park and walk to the center. The admission fee is $8 general, and $5 for dancers age 25 and under.



We meet at the Kenilworth School, at 1210 N. 5th Ave, Phoenix, AZ. (Avoid Mapquest - it gives the wrong location in September 2011!)


  • "I-10, exit North on 7th Ave, take first right."


  1. Go to downtown Phoenix
  2. From I-10:
  3. Go North on 7th Ave.
  4. Take the first right (onto Culver). (Go straight until you see the school.)
  5. Park on the left. (Even if the sign on the parking lot is hard to see, the lot is for the school, and is well lit, and will be open until 11pm. )
  6. As you walk to the school, the entrance is on the left side, with the 2-story tall classical columns.




Please ask for Bill or Dan at the desk and they will greet you.

- If you happen to come after 7:00, someone will always be happy to give you individual lessons - just ask. But naturally it's nicer if everyone is learning the same moves at the same time.  So this is why it is suggested: please come 10 minutes before 7:00.

We have dinners before the dance! Places include Pita Jungle, Pei Wei, and Sweet Tomatoes! Our restaurants usually accommodate a variety of diets. Please sign up for our email list, because about half the restaurants officially need RSVP's. To sign up, please say you wish to join the pre-dance dinner list, at

  • Pre-Dance Dinner List: email "[masked]"





  1. A water bottle. We walk quickly. (If you don't have one, please still go! There are water fountains there just in case.)
  2. Comfortable shoes. Heels are not ideal for dancing.
  3. A hand towel or headband. :-)
  4. (You will be face-to-face with other people, just 1 or 2 feet away. So please allow time to get ready, so you can arrive 10 minutes early for the 7pm lesson.)


  1. A light short-sleeved shirt or blouse
  2. A light pair of pants or a long skirt with pleats.

- In my opinion, the most amazing part of contra dance is the "swing" (a spin). This is two people in a waltz hold spinning around each other something like a figure skater spinning in place. This can be a wild ride (!), or slow, however you want. This spin is taught, but if you wish you can just skip this and just walk around each other.




Each dance is made up of a 1-minute dance repeated about 8 or 10 times. Also, before each dance, the caller leading the dance will take 5 minutes to explain this 1-minute dance and walk you through it a couple times. Please listen carefully to the caller. These dances are definitely do-able, but it really helps to listen for what to do. If you need more explanation, that's fine - please tell the caller or ask an experienced person to tell the caller. During the 10-minute dance, the caller will call out loud and repeat the directions.

- The dance event can be very fun, whether you come with friends or if you come to make friends (or both!). This is a very welcoming & friendly group, and most everyone will be actively trying to help everyone else. There is no need to be perfect - please don't worry about footwork - but naturally, it helps to be in roughly the right place, so people might be pointing where to go, and it is normal if sometime during the night someone nudges you by your shoulder into the right spot, like to help you switch places with your partner. This is a community of people trying to help each enjoy this experience, in a long history of contra dance going back to about the year 1700.


THE 1700's… TO TODAY!


- If you are new and want to do a dance, just stand, and someone will ask you to dance.

- If you want to take a break after a dance and watch one, someone will probably still ask you to dance - you can just say you want you want to watch. You might be tired after the first half - please stay for the second half to hang out with people and to appreciate our live band - again, if someone asks you to dance, you can just say you want to watch.

It's traditional to change partners almost every dance, & during the dance we also dance with our "neighbors," so after a few dances you'll have danced with the whole other half of the dancers in the hall. This provides a great sense of community!

Each half of the evening ends with a waltz. This is considered to be easier than contra, as you should find an experienced person to dance with, and that experienced person will lead, so it is traditionally not taught. I don't really know why it is not taught. Here's a video just in case: (again, the other person will lead)




- The music is American old-timey folk music, similar to Irish folk music, and has a fiddle, and either a guitar or a keyboard. Then there can be an extra fiddle, or a drum/bodhran, string bass, tin whistle, hammered, and sometimes even a flute or saxophone!  We have several wonderful local people. The bands include Clusterfolk, Pick & Holler, The Out of Kilters, Hands Four, and The Privy Tippers.

We hope to see you!

Our dances are "2nd Saturdays" and "4th Fridays". (That's "2nd Saturdays" and "4th Fridays") :-)




You can join the official e-mail list on (link). Please stay on Meetup, to receive one announcement for each event, and to sign up to show that people are signed up.

You can turn off Reminders:

  1. At the top of Meetup webpage,
  2. you can click My Groups,
  3. then E-mail Settings.
  5. select Email Settings,
  6. then please turn off just "reminders for Meetups".

By the way, the Irish Cultural Center ( has exhibits and many great happenings, such as concerts, festivals, and classes including fiddle, guitar, and tin whistle.

Fellow groups who have held events at Phoenix Traditional Music & Dance include: CulturalAZ Meetup group

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  • Mary r.

    Loved the caller!! Had a great time w a great group of people!! Very fun, positive & energetic group!

    October 26, 2012

6 went

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