Contra Carnivale 2011

Contra Carnivale dancers swinging
Contra Carnivale dancers swinging

Contra Carnivale was the weekend of January 14-16 in San Luis Obispo. This was my second time attending, I think, though this and Harvest Moon get mixed in my mind, and it could be three times. Because the dance weekend is on the three-day Martin Luther King weekend, dancing goes through Sunday evening instead of Sunday afternoon as most dance weekends, and that extra dancing makes for a more intense weekend.

The bands were Latter Day Lizards, Wild Asparagus, and Syncopaths. I enjoy listening and dancing to all three bands, but the Lizards manage to drive the dancers to ecstasy. The callers were Lisa Greenleaf, Seth Tepfer, and George Marshall (who also plays with Wild Asparagus). Again, all are great but Lisa blends in so well that she is not noticeable except that every dance goes smoothly, and at the end, I think, “that was a great dance.”

My favorite parts? An hour and a half of waltzing every morning. Hanging out with the Grass Valley / Nevada City folks who I so much enjoy dancing with on their home ground as well. Hanging out and flirting with Pascale. Seeing Ann again after many years. Dinner with Art. The beautiful eyes of women.

Contra Carnivale, Grass Valley friends
Contra Carnivale, Grass Valley friends

Talking with people at dinner, I said that a contra dance weekend contains as much joy as some people experience in their lives, either because the joy is not available to them, or more likely because they turn their back on it. Thinking about it since, it resonates even more strongly. I am blessed to have the time, the money, the health, to do these contra dance weekends a few times a year.

I went down and back on Amtrak, and mostly walked to and from the dance sessions. On the trip down I ran into and talked with a contra dancer Donna, proving the small world effect. I stayed the weekend at Hostel Obispo, which is fun in an of itself, and also an affordable way to the dance weekend.

Photos on PicasaWeb. Again, I’m using my iPhone without a flash, so the dance photos are blurry and the others less crisp than they could be, but I’m more likely to grab photos with my iPhone than to remember to bring and use a camera with flash.

Danceable Feast contra dance weekend

WildAsparagus
Wild Asparagus, in concert

I just had a wonderful time at the Danceable Feast contra dance weekend near Eugene, Oregon, November 13 to 15, 2009. This was the tenth year of the weekend, though the first year I’ve been, and I think the first year I was even aware of it. It is sponsored by the Eugene dance community.

Wild Asparagus was the band, with their driving dance music that is impossible to stand still to. Wild Asparagus was the band at Dance Awakening in 1997, the first contra dance band that absolutely gripped me. Listening to David Cantieni’s bombard this weekend, I came up with the thought that bombards can resurrect dead people, get them up and dancing, and maybe there was a bombard player at Jesus’s grave. George Marshall was the caller, and he is also part of the band. I bought their brand new “Live at the Guiding Star Grange” double CD (not yet available except in person), and listened to it on the southbound train last night. Back in the feeling so easily!

dancers4
the blur is due to lack of flash on my iPhone, but it does capture the feeling

The other part of the dance weekend was The S Curves and swing dancing. The food, prepared by Annie and her crew was great. I chuckle when seeing vegan – vegetarian – gluten free – dairy – no dairy permutations of the dishes, when in Nevada I still usually get “vegetarian? what’s that?”

Most of the attendees were northwest people, but there was a strong California contingent as well. No other Nevadans, though. I especially enjoyed dancing with Jacque and Denise, but all the dancers were competent to spectacular.