About 35 years ago, when my wife and I arrived in Concord, New Hampshire, we went to something called a contra dance. We had some experience with square dancing, and there were some similarities, but in other ways contra dancing was a whole new experience.
Our teacher was a cranky, charismatic fiddler and poet from Canterbury named Dudley Laufman, who, with his wife and music partner, Jacqueline, has produced this charming multimedia package: Traditional Barn Dances with Calls & Fiddling (Human Kinetics; $59).
In addition to the book, which contains dance calls, dancing directions, sheet music, a glossary, and historical background, there’s a DVD showing all the moves and demonstrations of certain dances, plus two CDs, one with calling included and the other without, so that you can practice to become a caller yourself.
You might, in time, become a dancing master–like Edson Cole of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, who “had a farm, managed another, as well as being town clerk and road agent. At his classes he used to say ‘1-2-3 balance with me, and if you can’t do that, go sid down.’ ”
He sounds a lot like the fellow who taught us to dance.