_In March 2011, Mel Novner arranged for Double Apex to come down to Glenside, PA to play a techno contra party (dubbed High CONTRAst), called by Spider Vetter and Donna Hunt, for his birthday. After attending this wildly successful event, Vince Budnick was inspired to make the idea of a public Philadelphia-area techno contra (PATC) series a reality. His running start on this project was Technoberfest, held in Willow Grove, PA on October 22, 2011.
So far we've analyzed many aspects of the techno contra genre, particularly with the music and the dancing and the way the two relate. However, there's an aspect of this that's so far gone relatively unexplored. One of the other pieces that both contributes to the atmosphere and is generally very different in a crossover contra as opposed to a regular one is the lighting.
Jeff Kaufman has wondered about incorporating the lighting to make the phrasing and calls more clear in crossover contras, and even posits that it may be a way to help hearing-impaired dancers stay in sync. Some callers have talked about how the generally lower lighting made it more difficult to see the dancers on the floor and thus keep them together. At the same time, sacrificing the "club style" lighting would take something away from the event (and the lighting can enhance or detract from the experience, even though it's taken for granted). There are plenty of ways to do it wrong, but I'd imagine there are also plenty of ways to do it right and set the mood without detracting from the dancers' experience. Does it make a difference between new-dancer-friendly techno contras and experienced-dancer-only techno contras (who theoretically might not need as much of a visual cue as to where they need to be when)?
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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