Old time music and dance

Erik Hoffman

Come Dance with us! Fresh & New Old-Time Fun!
Playing & Teaching Music, Leading American Folk Dancing
Learn to Play Fiddle, Guitar, or Mandolin—it’s never too late!

Teaching Music and Hosting American Folk Dances Welcome to Erik Hoffman’s Dance and Music Classes!

Erik Hoffman

Erik is a dance caller and a musician. He teaches and leads contra dances for all sorts of groups. He also teaches and plays fiddle, guitar and more.

Erik Hoffman teaches private lessons, leads music classes, and leads open-to-the public contra dances.


Erik currently plays in three bands:

i. The Chaos Wranglers, with Kenny Blacklock & Topher Gayle.

ii. Name to be Determined with Todd Silverstein & Craig Johnson

iii. Erik Thor & Hands Four with Ingrid Noyes & Michael Harmon Plus, Erik leads a number of Community Band Nights at contra dances. Join in the joy of playing for dancing!


Erik as a Writer

Erik has written books on contra dancing.

  • Old Time Dance Calling for Weddings, Parties, and One-Night Stands
  • The Contrarian
  • ContraDictations
  • Contra Comments

He has also composed tunes and offers his dance caller’s notes for the aspiring artists. Contact Erik to Learn More

Erik as a Composer

Besides playing traditional music, Erik has composed numerous tunes. Three of the tunes he has composed are Wee Hours Waltz, Trish’s Delight, Idiochromatic

Wee Hours Waltz,

Wee Hours Waltz, From BACDS compilation CD, Swinging on the Gate, featuring Danny Carnahan on fiddle, Ingrid Noyes on accordion, and Erik on guitar.

Trish’s Delight,

Rebecca King, from her album ”Nearer and Farther,” playing Erik’s Trish’s Delight


The Moving Violations from their album “Elasticity” playing Chuck Corman’s “Bobe’s Pepper,” then segueing into Erik’s “Idiochromatic.”

About Erik Hoffman

In 1980, Erik was invited to a contra dance. It was love right out of the starting block. The live traditional fiddle music, the way you danced with lots of people, and the joy of the dance community won his heart. As he participated in his hometown dance, his desire to know more blossomed. There was the teaching, calling of the dance, and there was the music.

Thus, at dance camps, Erik took calling classes, and learned to play the music. In 1985 he started calling at small practice gatherings. As his ability grew, he started calling at the local contra dances.

In 1986, San Luis Obispo was looking for a caller, and they invited Erik to drive up from his hometown, Santa Barbara, to become their monthly caller. He remained their house caller until he moved to Oakland, in 1994.

That same year, 1986, Erik started playing fiddle. Three weeks later, challenged to compete at the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddle Contest. He won 3rd place in Adult Beginning Fiddle.

A year later, he was back at it, and won 1st place in Adult Intermediate Fiddle. A year after that he won 3rd place in Advance Traditional Singing.

Over the years Erik has been sought out for calling and playing at various dance camps as well as touring throughout the U.S. and internationally, in England, Denmark, France, and Italy.

Erik’s love of the tradition shows every time he calls, plays, or just joins in the local dance

Erik as a Dance Caller and Musician

Erik can often be found at public contra and traditional square dances, dancing, calling, or playing for them. He is also an expert at getting people unfamiliar with the style up and having a great time dancing.

If you have a party, wedding reception, or other event, Erik and band can help make it a joyous occasion, leading newcomers into the pleasure of traditional dance with an inclusive warmth and humor.

Contact Erik to find out how to make your party, reception, or event, a celebration to remember.

Erik as Music Teacher

Erik teaches both privately, and in groups. He teaches fiddle, guitar, and recorder, and has taught mandolin, bodhran, hambone, and music theory.

Erik is the programmer and the house callers for the first, third and fifth Wednesday BACDS Contra Dance. The dance is held at the Christ Church in Berkley. We always dance to live music. It is almost always an open band format.

Erik Hoffman

Wedding Services

As a Universal Life Church Minister, Erik has officiated a number of weddings. He strives to custom tailor the service to the needs and beliefs of the marrying couple.

In addition, Erik can lead the celebratory dance, bringing people together with lively music and traditional dances that foster a strong sense of community.


Barn Dance

Playing Jews Harp & Guitar in Santa Barbara


Max V

I've had the pleasure of contra dancing to Erik's calling over decades. My older two and some of their homeschooling friends had a weekly class with him for a while, and Erik brought in history, and had this bunch of kids dancing in no time.

I played some classical violin and bluegrass fiddle in the 70's and have pulled out my instrument only now and then over the years but decided that if I actually want to bring it back, I'd better get myself down to his class at The Freight & Salvage. Turns out he's a great fiddle teacher, too! Wahoo!



Erik is a teacher, philosopher, expert musician and all-around nice guy; one of those rare teachers who can quickly assess a student's level and instinctively knows what they need to know at that moment of their musical development.

He is very relaxed and puts his students at ease so that they too are relaxed and at their best. I've seen Erik immediately connect with people of all ages in a genuine, caring way that is thoughtful and kind; never judgmental.

He gently and respectfully encourages his students to progress instead of making them feel inferior. No one ever leaves a lesson with Erik feeling ashamed about their abilities or that they "should" be doing something, instead they leave with a sense of accomplishment and inspiration.


Valerie R.

Erik is a wonderful teacher -- he's encouraging and informative, and his love of the music shines through.


Zoe N

Erik is a wonderful teacher and couldn’t recommend him more. He shares from a wealth of experience and skillfulness, and at the same time is patient and encouraging with rank beginners. Communicating his own enthusiasm, sense of humor and community spirit, Erik is extraordinarily generous in his teaching and time — for instance, sending out summaries and notes of what was covered after each class, staying afterwards to answer questions, offering practice sessions, and inviting everyone at whatever level to participate in the community band that plays for local contra dances.


Roxanne O

I’ve seen Erik transform a room full of regular folks into enthusiastic dancers. His charm lures you in, you participate, then you’re hooked. Dancing becomes a pleasure too sweet to sit out.


Christy M

"The Fiddling Repertoire, and Beginning Fiddle classes taught by Erik Hoffman at the Freight are terrific and very affordable. Erik is knowledgeable in and covers a wide range of fiddle music, including Old-time, Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian, French, and more. Erik is happy to tailor courses to the interests of his students. He also includes a fair amount of music theory and teaches students various bowing patterns and embellishments."



"I have been working with Erik Hoffman for many years, as part of the dance band 'Erik Thor & Hands Four', in which Erik plays fiddle AND calls the dances. That is the first amazing thing about Erik, his ability to call and play fiddle at the same time, which makes him a valuable band mate. The second amazing thing about Erik is his ability to size up any crowd and come up with the perfect dance program for them; they ALWAYS have a great time. When Erik's been unable to make a gig and we have to find a different caller, we are usually disappointed. Finally, I just learned to do the calling myself when needed, so I could mimic what Erik does. But best is when he's the caller, he is just so good at it. His fiddling is also lively and perfect for dancing to. Plus he's one of the nicest people I know. I love working with this guy!"


Mariko C

Erik is an effusively generous teacher. Whether you've never picked up an instrument before in your life or you're looking to step up your game for playing for dances, Erik is willing and able to show you something new, all while maintaining a fun and supportive environment. And he has such a wonderful sense of curiosity and exploration as a musician that you may find yourself on an adventure together!


Weiwei C

I started learning fiddle in Erik’s adult beginners’ class and my classmates and I were playing in the community band for dances in 5 months! Erik is the most inclusive, supportive, and knowledgeable multi-instrument musician and teacher you may ever meet. It is a natural skill of his to make his students feel welcome, highly motivated to try and learn, and have extreme fun every step of the way. I wish I could talk to you in person since, in these few sentences it’s just not possible to tell you how inimitable Erik is.

Thank you for taking the time out and visiting our website. Connect with Erik to book him for your weddings or special events. You can also contact him for music lessons.



P.O. Box 10821
Oakland, CA 94610