73.4 F
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Contra dance group welcomes happy hoofers

Latest headlines

2 Cuban migrants die in shipwreck off Yucatán coast

Unofficial reports claim that Mexican authorities helped 19 people to disembark the badly damaged ship.

Angels: What makes Adele Aguirre’s new art exhibit at SoHo Galleries so moving

Adele Aguirre's "Angels" exhibit at SoHo Galleries responds to a personal crisis, but will be cathartic to everyone suffering loss. ...

Frustrated animal rights activists blockade Mérida shelter

The protestors set up camp outside of the facility and took to laying on mats and pieces of cardboard to demonstrate their commitment to settling the issue without violence.

Property taxes in Mérida to increase in 2022

Property taxes across Mérida are about to see a considerable increase. 
Yucatán Magazine
Sign up to get our top headlines delivered to your inbox twice a week.

contra merida
A contra dance group is forming in Mérida. Photo: Cincinnati Contra Dancers

With roots in stately English Country Dance, contra dance evolved in the barns of colonial New England, where Americans gave it a more free-wheeling and energetic style. Contra dance had a renaissance in the mid-20th Century and has spread throughout the U.S. and Canada. It can also be found in the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

Can it spread even further?

“We need some Latin American representation! Let’s start a monthly contra dance in Mérida,” declares Charleston, S.C., native Brook Hart.

“… We have a large and growing population of expats who welcome new things to do. So I thought contra dance would be a good way to bring everyone together,” says Brooks Hart

“Contra dance is a community barn dance, where everyone dances and socializes with everyone else,” Hart wrote on a Facebook post that invited readers, both Yucatecan and extranjero, to try. “It is easy to learn and easy to dance. Each choreographed dance of the evening (there can be as many as eight) is taught right before the dance begins, and is prompted once the music starts. It is similar to square dancing, but not square. Instead, it is danced in long lines where you and your partner eventually dance with all the other couples in the line.”

Contra is smooth and easy on the knees, Hart says.

“You can dance with a lot of energy and flair, if you like, but all that is really required is walking to the beat of the music.”

A contra dance event is broken into two halves with a refreshment break in between. Each of the two dancing sessions are capped off with a waltz. You may bring a partner, but partners are not necessary. In keeping with the “community” aspect of contra, it is traditional to change partners for every dance of the evening. However, if you prefer, you are welcomed to dance with the one you came with all night long.

Hart created a website to explain the tradition in greater detail, and a Facebook page to connect hoofers.

What if the boy-girl ratio is a little off? Gender imbalance is not an issue in contra dance, Hart says, because it is about community dancing with community, and it is acceptable and welcomed for amigas to partner amigas, and amigos, amigos.

“No one ever needs to be a wallflower in a contra dance,” says Hart.

Anyone who’s ever been to a square dance has a head start on the learning curve. “Contra uses a lot of the same moves and you dance to a caller,” says Hart.

Hart is no stranger to contra dance groups, having run a contra dance in New York City for seven years. After living in Mérida full-time now for four years, Hart admits he misses the tradition.

“I have been involved here with Yucatecan dancing, like jarana and danzón, and I know how much the Yucatecans love music and dance. I also know we have a large and growing population of expats who welcome new things to do. So I thought contra dance would be a good way to bring everyone together.”

He is aiming for the first dance to be in November with a space to be determined.

- Advertisement -

Subscriptions make great gifts

More articles

Cacaxtla and the mystery of its spectacular Maya murals

The Cacaxtla-Xochitécatl archaeological site is one of the most interesting and unique in all of Mexico. Aside from its massive structures and breathtakingly beautiful vistas, this ancient city in Central Mexico boasts a rather out-of-place feature — Maya murals. 

Mexico skeptical over new travel restrictions

Restricting travel or closing borders is of little use in response to the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, said Mexico's...

CFE to invest billions to improve Yucatán’s energy infrastructure

Large CFE facility on Mérida’s Periferico. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht The CFE announced that it will...

What to find in a Yucatecan Christmas market

Located right in front of the high school Centro Universitario Montejo, the market hosts slow-food vendors on the weekends and maintains its crafts and decor market all throughout the week.

Feminists unveil a monument to protest violence against women

Feminist protestors unveiled a monument in Mérida’s Remate at the foot of the Paseo de Montejo to protest ongoing violence against women. 

Mérida to hold a week-long tango festival, starting tonight

Mérida's international tango festival is set to return for a full calendar week starting Nov. 25.

Adventurous pup illegally climbs Yucatán’s most famous landmark at Chichén Itzá

Once again, a clandestine visitor has broken the rules at Chichén Itzá by climbing Kukulcán’s famed pyramid. 

Mérida’s railway museum goes full steam ahead

One of the most under-visited attractions in Mérida is the Museo de Ferrocarriles de Yucatán, Yucatán’s Railway Museum.

Feel brave enough to eat an eyeball taco? Mérida’s taco festival has you covered

Taco connoisseurs are prepreparing to host Mérida's Festival del Taco next weekend. 

A giant hammock has suddenly appeared in the Centro, but why?

The sudden appearance of a giant hammock in downtown Mérida is drawing eyes.