Sunday, September 23, 2007

Change Comes Slowly...If it Comes at All.

Standing in the middle of an octagonal dance floor in Berea, surrounded by mountain men, mountain hippies, my fellow volunteers, and several others (including one man with what appeared to be a skirt and a f00-man chew mustache), I realized, is this some strange nightmare with Don dancing around like a crazy, it's "contra dancing".

From what I can gather, contra dancing is kind of a square dance/swing dance/line dance/mountain twirl/crazy folk dance, which is all together crazy, wonderful, tiring, and sweaty. Many of us new volunteers had no idea what we were doing, so we tried to pick it up as we went. Callista and I quickly paired up because we both had no idea what we were doing and we wanted to avoid the 'experience' of gripping a mountain man or gal and swinging them to and it were. The dance begins with the men "putting their woman" on their right. Then, most of the time, you form a square with another couple immediately to your left...or right. Then a series of spinning that circle around begins. There's also the 'star' where the men hold hands and spin the circle like a pinwheel. Then you swing (which really means twirl, most of the time out of control) your individual partner around until you come back in to formation. and the whole vomit-inducing process begins again, with several variations. We learned such dances as the 'Boiling Mud', 'California Twirl', and 'Trinity Star'. The whole process is driven by a bluegrass band which consists of a bass, fiddle, guitar, and banjo. The one man playing the banjo had a rock'n beard, overalls, and what appeared to be a Cadets marching hat on. There was also a man who did the announcing of which moves we should be doing (he was clad in a tie dyed shirt and had a beard that went down to his belly...kind of like a hippie Walt Whitman).

All in all, it was a blast. At one point, some of us volunteers did one dance/formation on our own involving a box. We determined that if we got to a point where we had no idea what in all of God's green goodness to do, we would yell, "plan B is in effect" . Plan B is where we all just twirl around randomly so as to avoid looking like Yankees....which we implemented flawlessly. My favorite dance was a bluegrass waltz, one I actually knew how to do. (I'm a big bluegrass fan, and a big waltz fan)

There were two main highlights of the of which I fear to tell you about. There is one unspeakable move and it is called...."the Gypsy". The gypsy is where you walk around your partner and stare them down, walking shoulder to shoulder, peering into their soul! Let me tell you, it is all together terrifying. You cannot break the stare of the gypsy, and in a strange don't want to baby, that's the magic of the gypsy! The only problem was that Don and Ross were trying to gypsy me all night those scoundrels, even when that dance was not going on. I can't have that!

The other highlight, for me, was when a mountain woman, whether driven by dancing advice or some strange mountain magic, told me to " hold her close". This, in addition to the gypsying of Don and Ross, made the night unforgettable. In case you were wondering, contra happens every month, the last Saturday of the month, so make your travel arrangements now, before all you mountain men and gals are swept off their feet and gypsied away into the hills!

Cheers mates,

quote of the day: me: "do you just gypsy one person, or is it an all out gypsy fest?"
Ross: "....I'm pretty sure it's an all out gypsy fest..."

honorable mention: Erin: "did you say goodbye to your new friend (the hold me close lady)"
me: "in contra, there is no goodbye, be continued"


Em J. said...

Good use of adjectives.


Mark Ugolini said...

Hilarious, andy. hilarious.

John said...



Ich habe durchfall...not today folks.