Deanna Rubin's Contra Dance Page

Hi, this is where I guess I might put up some contra dances when I write them.

I only started calling/writing in 2017, and I only call at Google Contra (where we have about 12-30 dancers), and usually only half the night, but I'm trying to expand, and my goal is to call an entire dance on the Jonathan Coulton cruise in 2019, and then we'll see how I feel when I'm comfortable calling a whole set.

We use larks and ravens as roles at the Google contra, so that's the notation I use for my dances.

If you call any of these please give me credit, and I'd love to hear how they went; you can contact me by putting my first name and a dot and my last name and an at symbol and gmail.com.

Dances I Wrote


Choo Choo Chain

Still vaguely a work in progress, this is the third revision (12/17, 3/18, 7/18). For when you want to make a room full of adults spontaneously form a choo choo train.

Becket cw

A1
(8) Slide left, ravens chain
(8) Larks cross right hand over left for Long lines forward and back

A2
(8) Make a train*, take it to the right
(8) Turn it around, take it back to the left

B1
(8) Ravens chain
(8) Ravens gypsy 1x

B2
(16) Partners balance and swing

* A train, in this case, is a big oval where everybody has their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them instead of just holding hands with the people on either side.

My dance partner and I often trade funny ideas for names for contra dances, and he sent me this one, and I'm really into trains, so I wrote it a few days later, with the idea that it would have two chains and a choo choo in it. I've called it twice and he's called it once (he added the larks crossing right hands part, which means you form more of a one-handed train with your left hand on the person's shoulder in front of you and your right hand on your own shoulder, holding the right hand of the person behind you. You have the raven's left hand in your left hand from the chain anyway).

The very first time I called this one it was really fun and super spontaneous and goofy, but I feel like it hasn't had that fun since. If anyone else wants to try it and let me know how it goes I'd be interested to hear about it.


Deanna Suggests This As First Dance That Does Not Involve Things In The Middle

A glossary first dance type thing.

Duple Improper

A1
(16) Neighbors balance and swing

A2
(8) Circle left 3 places
(8) Partners do-si-do

B1
(16) Partners balance and swing

B2
(8) Circle left 3 places
(4) Balance the ring
(4) Pass through to new neighbors

This dance started as a joke when one of our callers was like "Why can't I find a first dance that doesn't involve someone allemanding or gypsying or whatever in the middle?" so I filled this in on the spreadsheet, and the name sort of stuck as a running gag. It has since been called several times as the first dance, including as a 5-pair Sicilian Circle, and once, jokingly, as the last dance.


First of May

A dance to evoke a combination of May pole and "outdoor dancing starts today". I couldn't find a dance called "First of May" so I wrote it for the May 1st 2018 Google contra dance.

Duple Improper

A1
(8) Ring balance, petronella
(8) Ring balance, petronella

A2
(8) Hands across star left
(8) Ravens keep hands to allemande left 1.5 while the larks push off and loop over their own right shoulder

B1
(16) Partners gypsy meltdown (ie, whatever y'all call a gypsy into a swing)

B2
(8) Circle left 3 places
(4) Balance the ring
(4) California twirl to new neighbors

I call the second half of A2 by saying "Larks loop, ravens allemande once and a half". Also, it is important to note, that part is 8 counts long, so the larks should take a long circular walk, similar to the ends of a hey, coming back in to meet their partner when they finish the inner allemande. However, the worst case is that they stand around looking silly for a few counts waiting for their partner instead, so it's not that big a deal. Usually I step in to demonstrate what I mean during the walkthrough.

For some examples of this see John Coffman's contra site; he has youtube links posted from dances like Captain Kirk's Halibut. I don't know where star loops originally come from, but that's where I found them.


Hey Now, You're a Rock Star

Duple Improper

A1
(8) Star right
(8) Neighbors allemande right 1.25

A2
(8) Ravens pass left for half a hey
(8) Neighbors swing

B1
(4) Larks pull by right
(12) Partners swing

B2
(8) Ravens chain
(8) Star left

Turn from the star left to progress to new neighbors for the star right.

I wrote this because what I wanted to call was Bob Isaacs's "You're Among Friends", but didn't know what it was called at the time, so just made something else up with the same star left - right progression. It turned out to be useful as an early-ish dance in the evening to introduce stars and heys at the same time.


Mandelbrot Set

A day-glo pterodactyl, or one badass f'ing fractal, take your pick.

Becket cw

A1
(8) Slide left, circle left 3 places
(8) Neighbors swing

A2
(8) Long lines forward and back
(8) Big oval circle right

B1
(8) Big oval circle left
(8) Circle left 3 places

B2
(16) Partners swing

The idea is that the movement represents the Mandelbrot Set fractal (small circles into big circles into small circles into smaller circles, ie, swings). Inspired by the Jonathan Coulton song of the same title.

For teaching, if you do this early in the night with beginners, for the transition from the big oval circle left to the group of 4 circle left, tell the larks to keep their neighbor's hand and look for their partner across the set, dropping left hands with whoever else they're holding onto and taking their partner's hand, leading into that smaller circle.

It's actually not a bad dance for an early one in the evening because the formations aren't too hard, and it ends in a super long partner swing, so if people get lost, just tell them to find their partner on the side and swing.