In a traditional contra, the typical format is to have discrete sets and discrete dances -- i.e., the band starts playing, the caller starts calling, the dancers start dancing, and then after 10 minutes (give or take) the band stops, the dancers, stop, the calling stops, and there is some milling around as people locate new partners to line up again or get water and repeat the process. Some events like the annual Glenside Medley Marathon in the spring (or medley events in general, like at NEFFA) push this norm aside for special occasions and provide continuous music and calling, with events where you either keep the same partner throughout (so-called “chaos lines” excepted) or you agree with your partner to drop off, regroup with new partners, and rejoin at the end of the line.
I’ve heard of techno contra events being done as continuous loops and as discrete pieces (for instance, my local techno contra series does the latter, although the first few individual events did feature half-hour medleys; others like Technophoria have done the former).
In a club with a DJ spinning, the music usually ebbs and flows a bit, but is pretty close to continuous.
Does one format work better than another for a techno contra, in your opinion? I am particularly interested in hearing from people who’ve attended/called/organized/spun both kinds. Does it make a difference if it’s an event with live music (e.g., Double Apex) as opposed to having strictly recorded music? (I would imagine that some of the original discrete-dance formatting was established as a courtesy to the musicians, to give them short breaks if needed.)
Please chime in with comments or start a thread over in the Contra Syncretist Forum!