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The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area is rich in folk culture. Particularly noteworthy is the local folk dance scene, which is dominated by the contra dance. As one contra dancer put it, "picture something like seventeenth century line dancing with some grade-school square dance moves tossed in and you are pretty close to a contra dance." In contrast to the awkwardness of grade school square dancing, however, contra-dancing is both fun and, with practice, graceful. The form survived for years in the hills of Appalachia and a revival has been moving through the Piedmont and across North Carolina. Callers coach the dancers through movements before the music begins and the dances increase in difficulty throughout the night. Some people dance with only one partner, while many others come alone and dance with a different partner with each new dance. The music is a mix between blue grass and "rockabilly."

For more information on contra or other folk dancing, visit www.tcdancers.org or www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis/#Def0.

The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill

All Text and Photos © 2004.