Welcome to EFS, where you can find fun, community, and great music and dance! Come to contra dancing, a lively form of dance that people can learn and enjoy their first night. We have a welcoming community and dance to live music from great bands. We also sponsor a Morris dance team, a form of performance dancing open to anyone interested in learning, and our annual Cascade Contras Dance Weekend attracts dancers nationwide.
Our mission is to encourage and share traditional folk arts in the Eugene area. Check out your areas of interest below.
About Contra Dancing
Contra dance in America evolved from English Country dances and has been enjoyed continuously since the time of the English colonies in America as a true community dance.
Lighthearted and social, contra is danced in two lines of couples who dance various patterns or figures with one another. By the end of the overall pattern, each leading couple will have exchanged places with another couple, and the dance repeats until all couples in the lines have danced with one another. A “caller” teaches each dance and calls out the figures for dancers to follow along. We usually change partners for each dance.
We dance to music played by a live band. Contra dance music is in the form of lively reels or jigs in the Celtic and bluegrass traditions. Traditional contra dance is a precursor of square dancing, but is unrelated to modern country and western line dancing.
If you are a new or an experienced contra dancer, find out more about contra in Eugene at our Eugene Contra Dance page.
The Eugene contra dances usually take place on the second and fourth Saturdays of September through June. Check the schedule for possible changes.
What is Contra Dancing?
Contra is a formation dance, where you dance with a partner and with other couples. People partner up before each dance and are encouraged to choose different partners throughout the evening. Dancing with an experienced partner can often help new dancers learn more quickly and have more fun. Partners form long lines down the hall. The caller teaches a dance pattern which is then danced with the neighboring couple and repeated with other couples down the line. If something goes wrong, you get many more chances to get it right! We dance for fun, not perfection.
Partners were traditionally a man and a woman, so callers used terms like “gents” and “ladies” when teaching. These days, partners may be the opposite or same gender depending on their mood or who was available when the dance formed. Sometimes there is a couple of the opposite gender who want to try the other role, so they switch roles. “Gents” and “ladies” refer to a dance role, not the person’s gender. Increasingly callers are using alternative terms such as “Larks” and “Robins” because Larks dance on the Left and Robins are on the Right.
Before every dance we have a half-hour “basics” lesson. We invite dancers who have not done much contra dancing before to attend this, and invite experienced dancers to attend as well to help them. Many people find that this is adequate for having a good time for the evening. Check out the practice videos below
Contra Dance and Instructional Videos
About Morris Dancing
Morris Dancing is a traditional, energetic performance dance that comes from England villages. There are Morris dance groups in England as well as in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand many other countries as well. Our group, Two Rivers Morris, is welcoming to all who wish to join. In addition to weekly practices, there are occasional performances, typically starting on May 1 when the team traditionally dances up the sun. Many performances take place in Eugene parks or other places where there is space for dancing. Performances are in costumes inspired by traditional English costumes and are accompanied by a small band of musicians. Visit our Two Rivers Morris page to learn more.
About Cascade Contras Dance Weekend
Every year we normally host our Cascade Contras Dance Weekend in October. We always have two nationally recognized contra bands and two callers to provide 14 hours of dancing. Up to 200 hundred dancers from all over the Northwest participate. Find out more on our Cascade Contras Dance Weekend page.