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Some of the dances date back to the 17th century and originates from places including New England and the British Aisles. Despite old age and far-away birthplaces, contra dances’ effect on people has not diminished. Once the fiddlers, guitarists, pianist and other musicians begin to play, toes are guaranteed to start tapping and people will run to the dance floor.
See for yourself at the upcoming Los Alamos Contra Dance, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Church, 1738 N. Sage St.
The dance, which the Roaring Jelly is hosting, begins with a lesson on the basics of contra dances before the dance officially get underway from 7-10 p.m.
Contra dance is in the family of square dancing. A caller indicates which steps and formations the dancers should perform. For Saturday’s dance, the caller will be Katherine Bueler. “It’s just a very low key, social dance,” Gordon Keating, a member of Roaring Jelly, said.
“It’s fun, informal (and) no special training is required,” Dorothy Brown, another member of Roaring Jelly, said. Plus, the dance will feature live music rather than recorded tunes, “which is one of the best things about it,” Keating said.
Participants will hear music that has a long history, going back to the Appalachian Mountains, New England and the British Aisles.
“A lot of the music is really old,” Martin Schauer, another member of Roaring Jelly, said. “It dates back to the Irish (and has) different melodies and harmonies than (other) music.”
Roaring Jelly is a name of an Irish jig and jelly refers to a material that was put into cracks in rocks to cause explosions. Current members of the band have performed since 2001.
Keating said, “We play for contra dances and Scottish dances … (and) various events around town.”
Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for teen and children age 12 and younger are free.
Proceeds benefit Friends of the Shelter.
“We take turns choosing a charity,” Brown said.
…In the past, the Roaring Jelly have donated proceeds to the Court Appointed Special Advocates and a South African orphanage.