Club Contra

I am convinced that at any given moment, something incredible is happening in the world -- you just have to find it.

The first time I went contra dancing, I determined that it was the nerdiest thing I had ever done, which is saying a lot. Until the second time I went contra dancing. This night was advertised as "Club Contra". I didn't believe it until I saw the lights from the disco ball racing along the walls and heard the thumping beat. We're going to do-si-do to this? We all donned glow sticks and someone went around painting one-of-a-kind tribal designs on our faces with glow-in-the-dark paint. Keep in mind that the contra crowd is largely over fifty. If someone had accidentally wandered in off the street, they would have been shocked and appalled: This is what goes on at the neighborhood recreation center at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday? How long has this been happening?!

As my partner is swinging me round and round in the neon-splashed darkness, I wonder how it is that I became part of this insanity and whether the teenaged DJ is experiencing the same existential crisis. How does a DJ even get a gig at a contra dance? (The only reason I even know about contra dance is because of ballroom dance... it's a slippery slope.) Bringing hip-hop to contra is like bringing a vegan dish to a Southern cookout - just going to be smothered with cheese.

The culture of contra dance is confused enough without bringing hip-hop into the mix, anyway. Perhaps due to the archaistic nature of the activity, people seem to have no idea what era to dress from. Anything goes, from shorts with bowling shoes to bright orange hippie dresses with lace-up suede moccasins.

Dance fashion is a problem in general -- just look at prom. Girls wear fancy ballgowns straight from Cinderella so they can jump around to hip-hop like they're in a club? Why don't they just come to Club Contra? Prom doesn't even have glow sticks.

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