JWG (jwg) wrote,
JWG
jwg

The Flurry Festival

This weekend we went to the Flurry Festival in Saratoga Springs (our 5th time). It is a huge event with lots of Contra dancing, some English Country dancing, and lots of other folkie activities - I noticed in the schedudle that there were sometimes as many as 15 parallel sessions.

We did mostly Contra Dancing - just one session of English - partly because it was in another building almost a 1/2 mile away so between changing clothes/shoes, walking, etc. going there is time consuming and we'd miss at least one good Contra Dancing session - we went to essentially all of them. Didn't dance every dance - my feet need a bit of rest so I skipped a few. I did register 32,787 steps on Saturday, beating last year's record of 28,887.

In the main dance hall there are often at least 600 dancers dancing in a synchroized fashion and in one over-crowded session it is estimated there were over 1,000!

It is a pretty amazing experience - and I think a quite unique and interesting sociological situation. There is good music - quite a few different bands with various instrument combinations - playing familar tunes with lots of improvisation. Good exercise (physical and mental - coordinated) in a room full of smiling people all having a delightful time. A lot of dancing friends were there plus many recognizable people from other dances.

And where else can you be in a crowd of so many people of all genders and ages touching each other with no ulterior motives? And you get to ask conplete strangers to dance and have a nice time with them. For those who don't know: in Contra and English Country dancing for each ~12 minute dance you choose a partner, but interact and dance with them and with neighbors as you progress up or down the line.

In traditional Contra Dancing and English Country dancing there are two roles: Ladies and Gents. In our home dance in Jamaica Plain we haven't used that terminology for 30 years - but these days lots of other dances are beginning to convert and at the Flurry there were several sessions that used Larks and Robins. Many people were wearing I Dance BOTH Role buttons: And it is common at the beginning of each dance to ask your partner which role they wanted to dance and there were many same-gender couples or people dancing the opposite role - definitely more than last year.

Tags: contra dance, dance hall, english country dancing, travel
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