By Sharyn Cornelius
Judging from the large crowd at the IOOF Hall last Saturday night, Palo Cedro’s first Community Contra Dance was an unqualified success. Almost 100 people came together to learn traditional English Country dance moves such as “right and left hand stars and do-si-do” and then put them all together into a complete dance.
The crowd was a varied lot, from children with their grandparents to groups of teenagers and from middle aged couples to senior citizens, but all had come to dance, wearing low-heeled comfortable shoes as advised in the press for the event. Some of the women wore dresses; others wore blue jeans; two of the men wore kilts, one made from neckties sewn together. Live music was provided by “The Curvy Road Band” from Shingletown—Nicki Carlisle, Loren and Mackenzie Alldrin.
Caller/instructor Lenore Frigo, of the Redding International Folk Dancers which sponsored the event, started everyone out in a large circle and taught them the basic moves; then she had them partner up and do a simple dance in groups of six. At the end of the dance, all the groups split up and sought out new groups of six. They did this over and over, so that, before long, everyone had danced with almost everyone else, and they were all laughing and enjoying themselves.
After a brief water break, the dancers took to the floor again to learn their first actual Contra Dance. Frigo taught them the steps slowly, one at a time with plenty of repetition, then gradually showed them how to string them all together. By the time the music started everyone was able to perform the dance with a fair amount of skill and grace.
Event organizer Julie East of Palo Cedro said, “We are overjoyed at the turnout and the number of people who told us they want to be contacted when we do it again. We were hoping for maybe 50 – but we ended up with 90 plus! We’ll be trying to put another dance together in the next two months. We are hoping eventually to have one every month on the fourth Saturday.”