Contra Dance Collective (CDC)
== Who We Are ==
We dance! A lot! Because dancing is pretty awesome, and we want you to do it.
The Contra Dance Collective is a group that drives students to dances and pays for their admission. So pretty much you get to dance, have a ton of fun, AND it's free. It doesn't get better than that.
Contra Dancing is a popular a popular American subculture of community and folk music and dance. It's kind of an odd amalgamation of a lot of different types of dance that has it's roots in English country dance - except all the peasants got really, really bored and had 200+ years to make it more interesting. It's also heavily influenced by blues dancing, swing and even folk dancing. It's hard to describe, but it's easy, and it's fun! We at the CDC are committed to promoting the continuation of the culture of contra dance and spreading the fun that inherently goes along with it.
And guess what? You get to dance more than you could ever dream. There are normaIlly at least three dances a week within a close radius, and many more slightly farther away almost every night of the week. We travel to dances all over Massachusets, and often into New Hampshire, Vermont and even Pennslyvania. We generally dance between two and five nights every week.
Dancing is a fantastic way to connect with your body, with movement, and with the larger Western Mass. community. We look forward to taking YOU dancing! Most dances are open to ANY level of dance experience (even none!), so don't be bashful. Get on the mailing list and hop in the van. We take care of the rest. Join us!
By agreeing to attend a dance with the CDC, you are participating in a larger community with an established culture that has existed for over 100 years. You must be respectful of this culture in order to attend dances. It's only polite. If you cause problems, we reserve the right to talk to you bluntly about your actions. We also reserve the right to not pay for you again if you cannot be cognizant of your actions and their effects on the larger community. To attend dances, we request that you:
- DON'T attend under the influence of any substance (alcohol, drugs). This also means you cannot smell of them. We WILL make everyone late while you go change clothes. The Contra Dance community is primarily substance free and you are a danger to everyone if you cannot think clearly while dancing.
- DON'T show up in drenched in perfume or other scents (cologne, strongly scented hair products, ect). Many dancers are highly sensitive to fragrances and chemicals and all efforts are made to keep dances and dance weekends fragrance-free. Use your judgment about how strong a scent is appropriate.
- DO wear clean clothes and deodorant. Also shower before dances please. If you sweat a lot, bring your deodorant and/or extra shirts with you.
- DO wear a skirt! It makes everything so much more fun! And they're for everyone! Men too. You're not going to be misgendered for wearing one, it's just fun. Kilts are awesome too. It's not mandatory, but trust me... you'll want one!
- DO respect the culture of the dance. Contra Dancing is a derivative of English Country Dancing and contains gendered terms for the dance roles. These terms (gent, lady) do not gender you, or determine what role you dance. You are free to dance whichever role you like, although be warned dancing a role that does not match your presentation may confuse older dancers (just explain it to them nicely). The terms 'gent' and 'lady' refer to a space in the pattern of dance. However, you must respect the existing culture. The community is not going to switch it's traditional terms because you do not like them. It is inappropriate for you to tell the community that they should change their culture because of your personal preferences. You are willingly partaking in this community, therefore, you need to be respectful. Gender neutral contras do exist. If you have a problem with gendered terms, you are welcome to discuss them politely and calmly with other members of the dance community, or attend gender neutral contras. If there are issues with respect for the dance culture, we will ask you not to return. (One thing it is important to note is that many dancers are of an older generation and not entirely aware of alternate identifications. They are likely to assume your gender from your presentation and/or the role you dance. Feel free to politely correct them - most dancers are extremely open-minded about this. If you would like to make sure you are not mis-gendered before you are better known in the community, there are a number of ways you can dress that generally signify a difference preference in the dance community; ie, if you are female-bodied and would like to dance the lead, wear a tie and possibly a hat/pants. Talk to a signer if you have any questions or would like a recommendation about this).
How it works
You want to join us? Rad. So here's how to do it
- Get on our mailing list. That's how we send out information letting people know about the awesome dances we're going to!
- Sign a risk assessment form through the CLA. As of this school year, you MUST have one on file to participate in any club. It basically means that if you trip and get hurt or are captured by the French foreign legion while dancing, you're not going to sue hampshire. We MUST have a form on file for you to pay for you to dance. You only need to fill it out once in your entire time at Hampshire, but it has to be specific for the club. You've also got to do it far enough ahead of time that the CLA can confirm they have it, or we can't pay for you. So don't wait until last minute!
- Let Rachel Garner know what dances you want to attend. Do this by responding to the CDC list emails or send her a personal email. We need to know attendence ahead of time, and we MUST know at minimum three days ahead of time so we can bring money so you can dance. Be considerate, get free dancing! It's a good system. So give us a heads up, please, as far ahead as you can.
- Repeat until exhausted.
== Dances We Attend ==
- Amherst Center (Amherst, MA) - every Wednesday at 7, except for the 2nd week of each month.
- Guiding Star Grange (Greenfield, MA) - Fridays and Saturdays at 8.
- Concord Scout House (Concord, MA) - Mondays and Thursdays at 8.
- Northampton (Northampton, MA) - Thursdays at ??.
We also go to special events and dance weekends! Some of the ones we've attended recently include:
- Youth Dance Weekend
- Fall Ball, Snow Ball and Play Ball (6 and 12 hour dances in Peterborough, NH)
- Flurry Dance Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY
- NEFFA Dance Festival in Mansfield, MA
- Dawn Dances in Brattleburro, VT (Labor Day and Memorial Day, 11 hours dances starting at 6pm and going until sun-up)
== The Important Stuff You've Got To Pay Attention To ==
You absolutely must tell us ahead of time if you're going to go dancing. The signers are fronting admission for the dances, which means that they have to bring enough money for everyone and it has to be in cash. If people show up randomly and expect us to pay for them, it's really annoying. So don't do this, please.
We often reserve vans to go on trips. This means we have to know ahead of time how many people we're taking. So PLEASE give us a couple of days warning. It's okay if you're not sure if you're able to make it - it's better to plan for more people. Because the signers front the money for these dances, there are times that the signers are not always able to realistically cover the cost of everyone's admission. This year, we have so many people interested that there WILL be caps on the number of people we can take to a dance and pay for. If you are in the van, you will be paid for. If you drive yourself we cannot guarantee that a signer will cover your admission that night HOWEVER you can still get reimbursed for it, but you have to make sure you have the correct paperwork BEFORE the dance. We will help you with this if you contact us ahead of time. We will do our best to cover your admission fee, and you will NOT be asked to pay for a dance with your own money without being previously notified. If there's extraneous circumstances, talk to one of us. Well figure stuff out.
If you are a Hampshire College student interested in attending a dance that one or more of the group signers (Rachel, Abigail and Kitty) is not attending, you can email Rachel and she will send you the forms you need to have filled out in order to be reimbursed for your admission fee. We can't make it to all the dances, so if you want to go to one we're not attending, DO IT! Just make sure you get the form so you get reimbursed.
=== About RSVPs!!!: ===
When you RSVP to a dance, you are making a commitment to go on the date for which you reply. You may, of course, decide not to go after reserving a seat. Life happens.
But seriously, if you're not going to go and you've told us you are, LET US KNOW. Call or text a signer as soon as you know. It's polite. We would like to avoid confusion over who is and is not attending a dance. Plus, that lets other people go in your place! We expect more people to want to go to every dance than we can fit in our van. This applies ESPECIALLY to people who elect to drive themselves to a dance. We won't be mad, promise. But we've got to know. Vans also require a minimum of three people, so if you're going in a van and back out without telling us it could mess up the night for everyone else.
== Risk Assessment: == If it is your first time traveling to a dance with us this year, we need you to fill out a risk assessment form before the date of the dance. This form simply states that you understand the risks of attending an event off campus. Your filling out the form is a one time deal. When you RSVP, we will need to set up a time for you to sign the paper at least one day in advance of the trip so it can be delivered to the CLA and filed.
If you have any questions, ideas, comments, etc. about our activities for next year, please let us know!!! We would LOVE to hear from you! Look under the Monthly Updates section for upcoming dances.
=== Meeting Times: ===
Greenfield: Meet in the RCC Lobby at 7:00 PM on Fridays or Saturdays. We return around 12 AM.
Greenfield: Meet in the RCC Lobby at 2:00 PM on Sundays (unless otherwise noted). We return around 6:00-6:30 PM.