Many people take this time of year to not only be a festive period with tinsel and lit candles and gifts, but also a time to reflect on the waning of the year and its happenings.
When I was writing up Terra Price's interview the other week, I was reminded of a question I was asked in the beginning of this little project (that has since taken on a life of its own): the question of why I would want to observe -- and perhaps even celebrate -- the encroachment of electronic music and other traditions on our beloved contra dance. Oddly enough, what makes me love this hybrid form is in fact that encroachment.
Most of us had heard about the now-infamous Whipperstompers video, and about Jordy Williams's techno contras several hours' drive south, so when Penelope Weinberger decided to bring an alternative music contra series to Glen Echo, we were intrigued to come try it out.
The Spanish Ballroom had been darkened and a light how splayed across the walls and ceiling. Jeremiah Seligman (who had not yet adopted the moniker dJ improper) was spinning tunes.
Somewhere in the second or third dance, Jeremiah spun a song that was all over the radio about ten years prior. I hadn't heard that song in several years, so I started to sing along.
I chained over to my neighbor, who was a guy who looked to be in his fifties and whose name I knew but whom I hadn't especially talked to socially or off the dance floor. As I spun in the twirl flourish in the spot a courtesy turn was choreographed, I realized he was singing along to himself, too.
All of a sudden, the glass bubble that surrounded Glen Echo in my mind shattered into a bunch of sparkly pieces. Glen Echo and contra had existed in my mind rather separately from the rest of my life -- my job, my car, the music on that car's radio. Suddenly, it clicked in my head in a concrete way that these people existed in the world outside of contra, too -- in some way they became more "real" to me. At that moment, I rather fell in love with the art form that blended the outside world with my happy bubble of the Glen Echo community and some of the light spilled onto the rest of my mental map of the world. I contra dance because of the people and the endorphins; techno contra, for me, reminds me that folkies are people, too, with lives as complex as my own, and they exist in the same world I do, and make that world a little brighter; and to be perfectly honest, they would even if they weren't shining colored spotlights on the walls.
What about you? Where do you come from to this? Share in the comments!