contra dancing


In early July a close friend of mine asked me to make him a dress for a friend’s upcoming wedding. As a huge contra dance fan and a resident near Asheville, NC, it was imperative to him that the skirt be extremely full, ready for a long contra set and many spins. The voluminous pleated skirt, mixed with his desire for a traditional style western shirt made this design an irresistible challenge.

He bought the fabrics and fasteners he wanted, sent them to me, and I got to work. Luckily Julian happens to be almost the exact same size and isn’t opposed to wearing the occasional dress, so he stood in as my fit model. A few days and many pleats later and the dress was finished, complete with paisley details, brass snaps, some deep pockets, and a bronze belt buckle that Chrome kindly sent my way.

After a quick photo shoot it was shoved into an envelope and sent off to North Carolina, where I have word that it spun the night away at that wedding. 

A friend of mine in this picture (photo credit: Trish Finn), told one of our other friends, “Intimacy is more than just physicality.” But when you’re dancing, it is harder  to differentiate physical attraction versus a solid connection. In dancing, you are within a context where it is socially acceptable to be quite close to a stranger. Touching them. Moving with them. Listening to each other in that verbal and nonverbal way. It’s rather astounding and beautiful. Where else could you connect with someone in such a close way over a short period of time? There’s nothing else like it.

A Walk In The Park

A Walk In The Park
Becket Contra
Ron T Blechner

A1: Circle L ¾, Pass N1 by R (6,2)*
      NS (8)
A2: LLFB (8)
      Ladies Chain (8) (to P)
B1: Star L 1x (8)
      P Alle L 1.5x (8)
B2: Gents DSD 1x (6)
      PS (10)

* The first time through teaching this, I don’t bother doing the pass through; you can just swing the first neighbor, then walk the A1a again with the pass through on the second walkthrough.

Update, 3/13/2016:
I was never quite satisfied with the timing of this dance. It was just a little too tight in the base version, and too loose in the “A Slow Walk in The Park” version. I managed to update it, keeping all the moves basically the same. It’s now a Becket dance, and basically the dance shifted backwards 8 measures of music.

Earlier in 2013 I was looking for a basic contra dance to teach as many basic moves to new dancers as possible. The Alle 1x with partner was easier for new dancers. It includes a neighbor swing, and no moves that require losing hand contact with at least one person. It’s probably also suitable for faster-paced music, with the looseness of the B2.

I intended to name this easy dance A Walk In The Park, when I came up with the slight variation. Since the original had easier moves, I gave that the Slow adjective, and both dances were named.

A Slow Walk in the Park first danced September 14, 2013, and A Walk In The Park created October 9, 2013.

Thanks to Linda Leslie for brainstorming names with me!

Called A Walk In The Park November 8, 2013. The B2b should be taught carefully, but the dance works well.

See the neighbor-interaction version: Mistakes Happen; Have Fun

Patater Week Day 2 - Proposal (Part 1/?)

Unfinished, but better than nothing, eh?


Kent looks up from where he was picking at his supper to see his mother looking at him, mouth drawn in a serious line.

“It is high time you began thinking of marriage.”

Kent drops his fork. Now he knows why his sister Katherine was allowed to have dinner with her paints in her studio instead of eating with them. The small ting as the fork hits his plate rings throughout the silent dining room. “Mother—“

“Kent, this should hardly come as a surprise. You’ve been Out for seven Seasons now. Any longer and you will be firmly on the shelf.”

Keep reading

castleintheskye  asked:

*The Dean of Students voice* No dogs in the dorms!

Now I’m imagining this as a poster on the common room bulletin board. Next to Lup’s flyers about upcoming LGBT community events, a sign up sheet for contra dancing (Carey and Killian are at the top), Merle’s yoga meetups, Magnus announcing therapy dogs for exams week.

Taako has a hand-drawn flyer for an event. It’s drawn in crayon and colored-pencil and glitter pens with his own illustration of himself. It reads, “Making the Best of a Shitty Kitch-uation.” Basically once every week or two, Taako picks a dormitory and shows people what kind of dope shit they can cook up using the terrible dorm stoves, spices left behind by previous students, and random foods from the cafeteria/corner store/student market.

Dealing with Dragons (Patricia C. Wrede)


Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, a tiny young person who only wanted to ever read books about *real* people doing *real* things was held captive in the back of a station wagon for a 4-hour drive and forcibly read to by her older-and-wiser best friend. The friend promised to read “just the first chapter,” and then quit. At the end of the first chapter, the tiny young person, who was beginning to become a bit wiser, asked,“Okay, then what?”

This was my gateway book to all things fantasy, and it’s all about Cimorene here.  The defiant-princess genre was to become a staple of mine, and I coveted this dress/sword combination for years. I love the expression on Kazul’s face - part “who, me?!” and part “oh no, she DIDN’T”

Complaints: the cotton candy clouds and the ground they’re standing on are both texturally weird.


Love the setup here; the clutter on the table, Kazul’s casual posture, the obvious attention to detail (accuracy in Cimorene’s hair, wardrobe and cooking repertoire - chocolate mousse!)  I think this one really conveys the tone of the book - it’s arguably not much of an adventure story and is more about the delights of dragon domesticity.

Complaints: There’s a lot of texture going on in this image, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that it doesn’t create a very clear focal point.


This one’s all about the color - love that orange focal point, the fact that Cimorene and Kazul seem to be sharing the same litle smirk.

Complaints: it looks like a chunk of Kazul’s body is missing where the book title goes, and the background would be way better as a simple black or white - none of this 1998 powerpoint background crap.

What language is this?


The Haughty and The Unimpressed face off in this cover.  This is a facial expression winner in a slew of facial expression winners.  Love the detail and texture in the dragon.

Complaints: I hate the Cimorene-with-makeup and her hair looks like it’s about to crawl off her head and down her back. I’d also like more contrast between the dragon and the background, though I could see argument for blending Kazul with her surroundings. The font is pretty cheesy.


Another fairytale canon. I like the posture here, the peering-around-the-corner.

Complaints: Cimorene’s skirt looks like it got lost on its way to a goth contra dance, and Kazul’s intensely kreepy yellow eyes. 


This German entry, while far from my favorite, does a cool interpretation of the dragon skin.

Complaints: the boofiest dragon expression ever, and Cimorene would *never* wear anything that frilly up around her neck.


Okay, what language is this one? Guys? Help? If I know what country it comes from, maybe I can understand more about its aesthetics.

Complaints: Oy. The styling is offensive to me; it looks like a children’s book, which it is, but not *that* kind of children’s book. Kazul is not blue, Cimorene looks like something drawn out of a princess marketing 101 book, and the giant anime eyes making everyone look cute? Not a fan.


it all starts here // magic man rollercoaster // bleachers ocean // coasts eyes on fire // blue foundation all the boys // panic! at the disco lungs // chvrches oblivion // grimes cool kids // echosmith cosmic love // florence + the machine ghost // halsey the kids aren’t alright // fall out boy aquaman // walk the moon houdini // foster the people i wanna get better // bleachers craving // james bay itchin’ on a photograph // grouplove falling for you // the 1975 new americana // halsey drunk // ed sheeran the lucky ones // little sea lost boy // 5 seconds of summer the love club // lorde stolen dance // milky chance tonight you’re perfect // new politics casual affair // panic! at the disco wonderwall // oasis bullet // steel train love like you // rebecca sugar sweet disposition // the temper trap could it be another change // the samples wonderland // taylor swift tear in my heart // twenty one pilots i think ur a contra // vampire weekend let’s dance to joy division // the wombats shirtsleeves // ed sheeran anna sun // walk the moon disconnected // 5 seconds of summer i’m not in love // 10cc west end kids // new politics texas // magic man you // the 1975

OSRR: 1055

i moved home three years ago today. it’s been kinda wild, tbh.

the dance-thing at church was a lot of fun. we learned some contra dancing and then we just stopped and played games for a while. it was great.

and tomorrow is fast sunday, so that’ll be good. we’re having tacos at break the fast.