Friday, August 22, 2008

Contra Dancing in Jerusalem

Rachel and I went Contra Dancing this evening. The dancing is usually held at Kehillat Yedidiyah, but this evening it was held on a rooftop in the industrial section of Talpiot.

Contra dancing is an older form of square dancing, where you dance with your partner, your neighbor('s partner), in two couples, and in two lines, working your way up and down the line and dancing with each other's partner in turn. Each step isn't that hard, but it can get complicated, especially if one person gets out of rhythm; then you find yourself lost on a dance floor without a partner and facing the wrong way.

Contra dancing is not something I would normally do, being a religious Jew. My idea of being shomer negiah is fairly liberal: it's not "no touching under any circumstances", but "not touching when tensions could arise". The German tradition of my father, for instance, was to shake hands in business, because that's what Germans do. It used to include dancing with women.

But you know what? I'm 39 now, and I've been married for over 11 years to Rachel. While pleasant enough to hold hands and waists while dancing with other women, I no longer react to it the way I would have were I still 25 or if I were dancing with a woman alone (in the privacy of a crowd, for instance). It's just no longer negiah, for me.

Anyhoo, it was fun and challenging, more tiring than it would appear. There was a live band, and the view on top of the roof was pretty. The caller and organizer was not very good - she didn't explain steps well, messed up calls, wasn't organized - but she was sweet. And most of us were pretty uncoordinated.

The band sets up.

There's a swing on the roof.

A circle dance.

A contra dance, mid-mess.

If you want to learn Contra dancing, there is a series of videos on Youtube, starting here.

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