About Us & the Joy of Contra Dance

Join us on Friday evenings at Decatur Recreation Center

|||| Our mission is to uplift people through movement, connection, and music |||||

Contra dancing is family-friendly, open to all ages, and very welcoming to new dancers. Feel free to come solo, bring a friend, or organize a group to attend. We host a 30-minute beginner lesson at 7:30 pm. Our dance runs from 8:00-10:40 pm with a break in the middle.

Click here for details about our weekly dance.

Click on the toggles below to read more information.

Contra Dancing is a casual, social American folk dance performed throughout the U.S. and globally. A contra dance is casual in nature and focused on community. It is inherently inclusive of anyone who wants to dance, “if you can walk, you can contra dance” is the general motto. There is no fancy foot work! Being multi-generational, people of all ages and backgrounds dance to all sorts of music, including Appalachian, Celtic, Old Time, Quebecois, Blues, Jazz, and Rock.  The live bands interact dynamically with dancers, and the interplay of energy between the musicians and the dancers is unique in the dance world.

In a contra dance, parallel lines of dancers begin the dance by standing opposite — or “contra” — to their partners and then, following the caller’s instructions, interact with their partners and the “neighbors” on either side. 

Beginner lessons are always taught before a dance to encourage new dancers to participate and there is a caller who teaches each dance and guides the dancers through the dance.  

The origins of contra dancing come from 17th century English, Scottish, and French dance styles. About 200 years ago it evolved in Appalachia with African influences, making it into the dance it is today — and it’s still evolving! Contra dancing is related to country line dancing and English country dance, but there are differences between them. Some say contra dancing is rowdier, more casual, and involves each dancer throughout the whole tune. There is no footwork. This type of dance values eye contact, giving weight, and including all members of communities. Folk dancing is for “the folks”, not for those who have time and skills to learn dances ahead of time. Join us on Friday and check it out!

Besides the significant health benefits of regular sustained movement, contra dancing is a joyful community activity because over time you end up dancing with everyone in the room! Working together while grooving together o the music brings an aliveness to people that is just beautiful. As you do it more, you get to know people and they get to know you. It benefits people as a way to connect with each other, and the health benefits are unavoidable. Dancing regularly for 3 hours is a great way to build aerobic capacity and work out major muscle groups! This is different then just running on a treadmill because when the live music starts and you see smiles and connection from others, you forget the aerobic part and you live in the present moment of the dance.


Here is a great example of how Contra impacts a community

Each Friday evening, there is live band and a “caller” who directs the dance, teaching the sequences of figures and calling them as the music plays. One of the things that makes contra dancing unique is the focus on community and connection.  It’s customary to change partners for each dance. It’s so beautiful and fun to dance with different partners because everyone dances a little bit differently. The diversity of flourishes and styles that can be added to basic moves is a magical element keeping contra dancing stimulating and different each time. Check out our Join Us page for details on what to bring and learn how contra works!

Atlanta’s contra dance traces its origins to 1975. Contra dance was a way to unite traditional southern fiddle tunes and barn dances with the broader free spirit, hippie culture. It really bonded people in a way that is evident now in how many of those same dancers are still dancing in Atlanta today, 50 years later. To read the story of the origins of contra dancing in Atlanta, click here.

Contra dancing is happening all over the US! Check out this website to find contra dances in other states! Contra love is universal, so when you go to another city’s dance, they are welcoming and happy to have dancers from out of town join their dance! This is also a great way to experience the different ways people dance around the country.

You can also use this site find a great list of contra dance weekends! These weekends are usually 3 days, Fri-Sun and they include many hours of dancing, amazing talent for the bands and callers, workshops, sing circles, and many other things. Each group’s dance weekend has their own unique culture and feel to them. They are amazing places to see old friends and make new ones!

Watch this video to learn about why we Contra Dance in Atlanta!

The Atlanta Contra Dance Board

Board members each serve an unpaid, three-year term. Their collective responsibilities include staging and publicizing events, overseeing finances, providing artistic direction, overseeing volunteer projects, and responding to dance community concerns. The Board meets monthly and meetings are open to everyone.  Minutes from prior meetings are available on request. Feel free anytime to contact the board with any question or comments!

Jolie Fainberg

Board Member
Term Ends: December 2024

Bill Porter

ACD Secretary
Term Ends: December 2024

Seth Tepfer

ACD President
Term Ends: December 2024

Joe Dew

ACD Treasurer
Term Ends: December 2025

Kyle Mayo

Board Member
Term Ends: December 2025


Board Member
Term Ends: December

Cathy Garmon

Board Member
Term Ends: December 2026

Jeremy Peterson

Board Member
Term Ends: December 2026

Sophi Queen

ACD Vice President
Term Ends: December 2026

Why We Love Contra

Community is at the center of contra, and every dance is an expression of that. See what dancers and talent have to say about Atlanta Contra Dance.



We have been bringing the Atlanta Contra Dance community together since 1975.



Dancers from across the United States travel to join in our dances.



We currently dance at the Decatur Recreation Center in Decatur, Georgia.



The musical talents of these performers bring every dance to life.