I first caught up with Jack Mitchell when he called a Contra Sonic installment in 2011. He mentioned that he had danced with Electric Camel Contra and called to dJ improper's sets before, though not with dJ improper himself there, and that he saw some interesting differences between the experiences--at which point I knew I had to talk to him for Contra Syncretist.
It seems that these days North Carolina is a hotbed of crossover contra series, as there appear to be not one but three groups (that I’m aware of -- there may be more!) having events on a fairly regular basis. One of these is Electric Camel Contra, where DJ Eileen Thorsos and her internationally-flavored “electrotrad” music are based.
Eileen herself describes her music as follows: “I focus my DJing on (awesome!) fusion music: traditional tunes played on bagpipes, fiddle, accordion, whistles, etc. and arranged with a lot of beat, electric instrumentation, and other excellent non-traditional arrangements. I've drawn most heavily on the Peatbog Faeries, Shooglenifty, and the Afro Celt Sound System, with important contributions by Martyn Bennett & Martin Low, Enter the Haggis, Urban Trad, Richard Wood, and others....I look for Celtic fusion music that I like (hopefully LOVE), that I want to dance to, and that is upbeat with a rich and interesting sound. I want the dance to be joyous. Many of the sets aren't precisely square the whole way through: They just have to have the potential to be square. I can cut, copy, and paste to make it work out.”
This project has concluded as of mid-2013 (with an epilogue posted mid-2016) but we hope to see you soon on a contra dance floor! Meanwhile, head over to our Facebook page for upcoming techno contra events and other items of interest.
The 100+ Friday Flourish videos can still be found on YouTube.
I dance with abandon. I play with glowsticks. I look for music that is conducive to one or both. I play behind cameras. I write about all of the above. I'm based in Glen Echo's contra dance community outside of Washington, D.C., but I'm happy to go dance afield when I can. Lather, rinse, repeat. Always repeat.
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