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Frederick Contra

by Tom Hinds

It's always good to have an emergency dance. One that can be done without warning, without cards, without preparation, without even catching one's breath. It's for when the last dance has broken down, the sound system's in feedback mode, and you're ready feel to crawl under a rock.

Frederick Contra is my emergency dance. It was there very early in my career in the middle of an all-callers night when I was asked to call an extra dance without preparation. It saved me the first time I had a second walkthrough of a more complicated dance crash and burn. And during my first half-evening, I had my final dance ("Dynamic Appeal", cause: end effects) break down beyond all recognition. It was the only dance my scrambled brain could remember to medley into. I expect to use this life preserver again and again.

And it's not only a very good dance, it's a very good beginner's dance. None of the moves are complex, the most challenging being "turn as a couple." There's two swings, and interactions with both same and opposite-sex neighbors. The whole dance flows very cleanly, with a smooth B2/A1 transition despite ending with a progressed neighbor swing. The A2 is a good recovery point, and it's hard for beginners to miss the down-the-hall of the B1. The one problem spot when calling is the A1, where I need to tell men to look to the left for new men to do-si-do, and then for the women to look to the right and allemande left. Otherwise some won't realize they've progressed.

Instructions for this dance can be found here.
A video of this dance can be found here.
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