If you are a new dancer
- Feel free to ask anyone to dance! You’ll learn faster from experienced dancers.
- Trust the caller. Feel free to ask for another walk-through if it isn’t working in your set.
- Please give feedback. There are feedback forms on table or just come and talk to an organiser.
If you are an experienced dancer here’s how to support new dancers
- Ask newcomers to dance please.
- Listen to the caller and walk everything through fully.
- Only touch other dancers as the dance requires it. Pushing is never helpful.
- The most helpful thing you can do for confused dancers is be in the right place at the right time.
- You can also guide other dancers using your eyes and by pointing (palm up).
- Mistakes happen. Let them.
- Enjoy the dance and let it show.
Taking care of yourselves
- Drink water and stay hydrated.
- Cool down slowly after dancing. Stepping straight from a sauna-like dancehall into a freezing winter night is not recommended.
- If you have an injury or a disability that changes the way you would like others to dance with you, communicate this to your partner and your set.
Taking care of each other
- Respect other dancers boundaries.
- Remember that other dancers may have different comfort zones from yours.
- Pay attention to your partner’s body language.
- If how you dance is making them uncomfortable, change how you dance.
- Be careful not to accidentally hurt other dancers
- Be aware that other people may have injuries or physical limitations you don’t know about, so be gentle when dancing with people you don’t know.
- Avoid digging your thumbs into other dancers arms or hands.
- Be careful if you have sharp nails or rings with large stones that may scratch.
- Be sensitive when doing variations
- Variations and flourishes are welcomed provided that (a) you get to the right place at the right time to start the next figure and (b) you don’t confuse or disorientate the newcomers.
- If you’re not sure if someone will welcome a flourish or variation, ask.
- Aim to include everyone
- Ask people who are sitting out to dance. If they are tired they can always say no.
- Try to dance with lots of different people, including people with different levels of dance expertise from you.
Asking people to dance
- Anyone can ask anyone to dance. You can ask people you don’t know to dance.
- A dance is just a dance — there are no big social implications attached to dancing with someone.
- You can always decline a dance by saying “no thank you”, without giving a reason.
- A minor etiquette point: When you come to form up sets, join on at the end furthest from the band. If you need more couples in your set, hold up the appropriate number of fingers. Doing this saves time so we can fit in more dancing.
Dancing and gender
- Anyone can dance with anyone, regardless of gender.
- Bristol Contra uses exclusively gender-free calling, usually in the form of Larks and Ravens.
- While roles in contra do have traditionally gendered roots, any gender can dance or not dance either role at any time.
- You are asked not to try to swap other couples who you think are dancing as the “wrong” role. Similarly, do not try to split up same gender couples.
- Dancing is a contact sport so shower and brush your teeth before coming out to dance.
- Avoid strong perfumes and scents as some people are allergic.
- Avoid using aerosol deodorants in the venue as this can upset some people’s asthma.
- It’s sometimes useful to bring a second shirt so you can nip into the bathrooms and change at half time.
If someone is making you uncomfortable
- You do not have to put up with unwanted flirting, touching or anything else which fails to respect your boundaries.
- If someone is making you feel uncomfortable by the way they dance, tell them or feel free to ask an organiser to talk to them for you.
- You can report any problems to the organisers. We will listen and do everything we can to resolve the issue.
How to find the organisers:
- There tends to be at least one organiser hovering around the cash pot where you paid for your ticket at any given moment of time.
- If that doesn’t work, feel free to ask a confident dancer, the contra community is of such that confident dancers tend to know who the organiser is.
- Also the caller and band will know who the organiser is, if you are stuck have a word with them.