What Your Co-op Neighbors Love About Contra Dancing

Karey Bacon, for the Shuttle

Contra Dancing Every Thursday

Commodore Barry Club
6815 Emlen St.
8-11 p.m. (newcomer lesson at 7:30)
Click for coupon for special $5 admission.

Contra dancing is in the neighborhood now! A cousin of square dancing, this friendly, easy-to-learn dance happens at the Commodore Barry Club every Thursday night, and at Summit Church on the third Saturday. To get an idea of why this might be relevant to you, let’s ask our Co-op neighbors why they go every week.

Chloe Maher & Rick Mohr: The friendly, inclusive community. Beginners and longtime dancers have a great time in the same contra line. People who think they’re non-dancers and people who already like dancing both get hooked and become regulars. And a musician or caller might be on stage one minute and swinging with you the next. Also, there’s a saying, “It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”

Eve P. : It’s a great workout with lots of fun people, and it’s a wonderful way to spend Thursday evening and get your endorphins flowing. It makes you happy for the rest of the week!

Steve Tenneriello: It’s a lot of fun, it’s good energy, I get to dance with people from lots of different backgrounds. It’s nice to see people from the dance in the neighborhood and say hi. It also leads to other kinds of dancing — they have waltzes there, too. I’ve been doing it for most of my adult life — I won’t say how long that is. 

Pat McGrath: When you walk into the dance hall and you’ve had a long day, you don’t necessarily have a smile on your face, but the music starts playing, and people start moving around and looking in each other’s eyes and suddenly everyone is smiling. 

Dave Rupp: The community is very strong. Everybody supports the newer dancers; plenty of people come who have never done it before and everybody helps them learn; everybody wants you to have a good time. And I love the exercise. Contra dancing is how I met my wife!

Pat: And it’s how I met my husband!

Dottie Baumgarten: You know you have to exercise, so you might as well be getting exercise when you’re doing something that you like to do. You’re meeting new friends in the community, and everybody really wants you to have a good time. So even when you’re new, the others take care of you and help you, and then you’re part of this community which is a lot of fun! And if you don’t go dancing, then you have to do something boring like go to the gym.

Phil Baumgarten: Thursday Night Contra is the highlight of my week. There are a lot of really nice people at the dance and I want to be one of them. I aim to be the best partner I can be to each person I dance with, whether a first-time dancer or a long-time participant. . . . The music is always live; we have a lot of very talented local musicians and callers and also draw on great national bands and callers.

Studies show that dancing regularly can stave off dementia. Why not come down Thursday to the Commodore Barry to try it out? The lesson for newcomers is at 7:30, and the dance is 8-11 p.m. For more info, visit thursdaycontra.com. See you on the dance floor!

Among those who just can’t stop dancing are Steve Tenneriello; Dottie and Phil Baumgarten; Eve P; Pat McGrath and Dave Rupp (headband); Chloe and Rick Mohr (with Evan).