Cool Stuff Series: English Country Dance
Published March 4, 2015 | By Shawna
For those of you who loved the ball scenes in Pride and Prejudice and long for a way to join that world, you can (sort of). On one hand, there is less in the way of fancy dresses and elegant men in period costume. On the other hand, you don’t have to have expensive clothes and be landed gentry to join in the fun.
On (almost) every Friday night, there is an English country dance at the Burlingame Water Tower Dance Hall (8936 SW 17th, Portland). The music is live and appropriate to period. Dress is pretty much whatever you are comfortable with. . .you will see everything from dressy-dresses to tie-dye T-shirts and jeans. (On the occasions that I went, I usually wore skirts because I like the way they twirl when I turn). The only real requirement is inside dance shoes. (Which can be any comfortable shoe that has never been worn outside. I wear the same Capezio dance sneakers that I bought for Irish ceili dancing, but a friend just bought a cheap pair of China flats.)
Beginners are welcome, no partner is needed. Each dance starts with the caller walking the dancers through it and explaining the dance. I found that my background in Irish ceili dancing helped me get quickly up to speed, although I had to forget everything I ever knew about expecting symmetry in dance and sometimes had to mentally ‘translate’. (Because a back-to-back in ECD is very much *not* the same figure as a ceili back-to-back).
If you’ve never done any similar style of social dance (or even if you have), it might me a good idea to familiarize yourself with the terms before you go.
If you write in the regency period, or if you are simply a history geek like me, this is a great experience. Not only do you see and learn the dances, but you start to get the idea of how personalities come out in individual dance styles withing a highly structured dance, and how much flirtation can be carried in simple eye contact within the decorous bounds of the dance floor.
Also please note that this coming Friday (3/6) is a special fancy-dress ceili, with dancers asked to come in their favorite period Western costumes (You can be a sheriff, a dance-hall girl, a school marm, or ??? Steampunk friends, this is your dance!)
Official link with details, contact info here.
Between publishing commitments and a knee injury, I’ve been absent lately, but I hope to start up again soon. Maybe someday I’ll see you there!