Chattaboogie 4, held this past January in Chattanooga, TN, was memorable for a few reasons: one, the weekend aimed to bring together two bands with a heavily electronic influence -- Perpetual e-Motion and Double Apex; two, it had the same band and callers two years in a row (Chattaboogie 2011 had featured Perpetual e-Motion, Seth Tepfer and Vicki Herndon), and three, it particularly highlighted differences between the two bands (who use some or all live music in their electronic mixes) and a DJ when Julie Vallimont of Double Apex switched formats and DJ'd a designated techno contra late on Saturday night. I talked to organizer and caller Vicki Herndon about this to get a behind-the-scenes look.
Photo by Bob Bennett
At Footfall Dance Weekend 2011 in High View, WV, caller Seth Tepfer plugged Chattaboogie 4, which would reunite three of the artists who had played for Footfall: John Coté and Ed Howe of Perpetual e-Motion and Nor’easter’s Julie Vallimont in Double Apex. Intrigued by such a rocking combination, Steve and I set our sights for Chattanooga, TN to see what an electronic-infused contra dance weekend might look (and sound and feel) like. (It is worth noting that acoustic local band The Christie Burns Trio was also on hand to play the morning waltz sessions as well; as fun as we have found our forays into waltz, we will both readily admit that the contra dance lineup was what drew us: bands Double Apex and Perpetual e-Motion, callers Vicki Herndon and Seth Tepfer. As it turned out, Brendan Carey Block was unable to attend, so Ed Howe filled in on Double Apex’s scheduled sets.)
I managed to catch up with Seth by phone early one morning on his commute to talk about that epic weekend.
Other Ways to Mix It Up
Seth Tepfer from the Atlanta, Georgia area wrote a couple of contras that were designed for a 12-bar blues tune rather than a 32-beat contra tune (links take you to his site).
I've seen blues choreography worked into contras (especially swings) before, and I've danced contras and ECD and Sicilian circles in waltz time, but I hadn't seen this before, so I thought I would share.
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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