Erik Hoffman     

Old Time Music and Dance

Old Time (Contra and Square) Dance Calling

Contra dancing is the joy of connecting with friends set to music.

In contra dance and square dance, you don't just dance with your partner, but you work with eight or more people and discover the pleasures of working together, moving with music, and getting to know each other.

It's FUN!

Here's how it works. A caller walks you through the various interweaving patterns, giving you a preview of how the dance works. Then the band starts up a tune, and the caller prompts (reminds) you of what to do next. While dancing, you get to meet and greet and work with the other dancers in your "set" (contra, square, or circle).

It's a great way to meet people, have a lot of fun, and come to feel closer as a group.

The "longways set" (contra set), square, and circle formations come our way from our ancestors in the British Isles. Some, though, went through France. The habit of calling comes out of New England and Appalachia.

Iím a regular caller at Bay Area Country Dance Society dances, especially the 1st, 3rd, & 5th Wednesday Berekley Contra Dance series

Community Dance and Family Dance

Looking for a way for people of all ages to enjoy each other? Try Old Time Music and Dance. Dance has long been the featured activity at family and community gatherings. Why?
Because it's . . .

Spirited and Fun
Playful and Flirtatious
Joyous and Sexy
Mythological and Mirthful
Rhythmic and Compelling
Ritualistic and Hypnotic
Builds community and connects people

Old Time Dance combines all these factors. Remember, all dances are taught in a fun, inclusive, delightful way. Some of the dances we do have been done for hundreds of years. Others are new ones, but based on old styles. All have at their base the celebratory meeting of spirits, joined together in dance!

Do you remember doing an Old Time square dance? Or perhaps the Virginia Reel? Do you remember the fun of moving with the music, and dancing with the others in your group? It's as fun today as it was in George Washington's time!

The music is driving and beautiful, ranging from haunting to playful to downright beautiful. It can range from a solo fiddle to a full out band with piano, fiddle, drum, brass, and more. Most commonly, music is fiddle based with guitar or piano backup. "O Brother Where Art Thou" has made popular music that is very similar to what you'd find at one of our dances.

So what makes dancing fun? For me it's the sense of connection I get by dancing with my partners and the dancers in my set. It's carrying out the figures in ways that join with the music and dancers. It's being playful in non-destructive ways. It's seeing people I know and like, and having the momentary connection with them as our trails cross in the flow of the dance. It's meeting someone new and seeing their sense of joy as well as helping them through the initial stages of confusion. It's executing a nice twirl with an able dancer and being there on time. It's spacing out the next figure and then catching up and laughing about the mistake. It's achieving an altered state of "no thought" flow with the music, dance, and partners to the point where I feel one with the whole hall.

Old Time Music
Officiate Weddings