Join Us

We dance every Friday night at the Decatur Recreation Center, unless otherwise noted on the Events Calendar.

  • 7:30p – 8:00p Beginners/Warm Up Session

  • 8:00p – 10:40p Two sets of contra dances with waltzes at the break and at the end of the dance.

  • 10:40p – Help clean up 😉

Toggle through the sections below to find some helpful information about contra dancing with us!

You are in good company — we were all new to contra at one time. Beginners are encouraged to join us at the Atlanta Contra Dance! Experienced dancers will help you, we are here to have fun not to be perfect! There is a Dance Basics Workshop before every dance on Fridays from 7:30-8:00pm. The caller will get you all warmed up and ready to dance that night.

You will learn things like a basic swing, an ‘allemande’, a ‘do si do’, and how a contra dance set works. You’ll get the fundamentals that will make you successful and have fun!

Water, Water, Water: Hydration is so important! Bring a water bottle! If you’re well hydrated, you’ll reduce any potential dizziness and increase the joy you feel from the dance. To feel great, start drinking water before you get to the dance.


  • There is no dress code–come in gym clothes, dress up fancy, or anything in
  • Wear comfortable shoes–nothing fancy. Shoes with smooth soles that are designed to slide are ideal, but not necessary.
  • You will get sweaty,  so a hand towel or extra shirt may help you stay more comfortable and drier throughout the dance.
  • Dancers generally do not wear cologne or perfume as some people are very sensitive.


  • The beauty of contra is that it is inherently a group activity.
  • It is customary to switch partners after each dance.
  • You do not need to bring a partner with you
  • You are also welcome to bring a bunch a people!

Over the course of a dance, you will interact with everyone, so don’t be concerned if you aren’t bringing a partner to the dance. Ask some experienced dancers to dance, they would love to show you the ropes!

  1. Dance Role Terms: Anyone can dance any role. Instead of Lead/Follow as is used
    in many social dances, we use the role terms Gents/Ladies or Larks/Robins. When a couple who are dancing together are standing side by side, the dance role of the person on the left is called the “Lark” or “Gent”. The person standing on the right is called the “Robin” or “Lady” These terms are not gendered, they just refer to the dance role, meaning anyone can dance any role. Each couple dancing decides between them, while lining up for each dance.
  2. Callers and Walk Throughs: Don’t worry about not knowing the dances in advance. All dances are completely explained and walked through by that evening’s caller before they are danced. Each dance is different throughout the night and the selection of dances varies by caller. This variety is one of the things that makes contra so fun–the dances are different every night and there are thousands of dances that callers can choose from. This makes many “experienced” dancers newbies too, when a new dance is called that they have never done. The callers keep calling throughout the dance, they will have your back and help guide everyone – that’s their job!
  3. Give ‘Weight’: Picture the arm tension you use when helping a seated person stand up. In contra, this arm tension is called “weight”. This weight provides energy both people use in the dance. When dancers who are touching hands keep arm tension they are giving weight to each other. This helps them signal each other “what’s next” and helps propel both of them through the figure. Some people call this “connection” or “responsive tension.” Whatever you call it, it makes the whole dance easier, and more fun!
  4. Feel the Beat: Contra dance figures fit the music in counts of 4, 8 or 16. Listen for the downbeats and let your body flow with the rhythm of the dance.
  5. Better Never than Late: All dances are designed and timed so that each figure should work with the musical beat to flow seamlessly from one figure to the next. If you forget a figure or get lost, just jump into the next one! Don’t even worry about it 😉

Be gentle and try to be in tune with your partner’s comfort level. Contra dancers love feedback and want you to feel safe. We want to know how you feel, so share your thoughts so we can all enjoy the dance!

  • Speak up if you are uncomfortable or are hurt.
  • Use a light touch to connect and make suggestions to your partner.
  • Avoid using force to get a dancer to twirl or go into a figure. And if you prefer not to twirl, just say so. 
  • Ask your partner if there are injuries or specifics you should be aware of.
  • Avoid applying excessive pressure or a strong hand grip.
  • Communicate with your partner, check in.
  • Speak up as situations arise with the dancer or a dance organizer.

Check out the history of contra dancing and the history of Atlanta Contra Dance on this page

We are always looking for talent to come call and play with us in Atlanta! Check out this page to connect us about joining us for a dance!