Swingin' Tern presents Contra and Square Dancing to live music in East Hanover the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. Beginners are welcome at the dance and are encouraged to come to the beginner's workshop preceding the dance proper. No experience is necessary and one may come alone or with a partner.
LOCATION: The First Presbyterian Church, 14 Hanover Road, East Hanover, NJ.
COST: Admission is $10 per adult, $5 per student with Student ID.
TIMES: The beginner's workshop starts at 7:30 PM with the dance following at 8 PM.
INFORMATION: (973) 535-3274 or send email to
Contra Dancing is an ideal form of country dancing for singles and couples alike. Contra dances use the same figures (swing, promenade, etc.) as square dancing, but you dance with more people, you do not need lessons, and you do not need to bring a partner. Many people who "can't dance" love to Contra Dance anyway.
The Social Aspects
Almost all Contra Dances follow a similar style. The evening is divided into maybe 9-12 dances, with a break in the middle. By convention, dancers dance with a different partner for each dance. Hence, you do not need to bring a partner in order to have someone to dance with. This gives beginners an opportunity to dance with experienced dancers, making Contra Dancing easy to learn. In fact, there are no formal Contra Dance classes; we all learned by coming to a beginner session before a dance, and then dancing!
Many Contra Dances hold a beginners workshop before the dance. These provide the basic information to get started; the rest you learn by doing. The Folk Project Swingin' Tern dances provide beginner sessions.
All dances are preceded by a "walk-through" so you see all the figures before the music starts.
Contra Dances always feature a live band and caller, a great deal for the price! Most dances also provide refreshments. All Contra Dances are held in a smoke free and alcohol free environment.
While the details of each Contra Dance vary, here are some common themes:
Most dances run three hours, including the break. The beginners session preceeds the dance.
The cost usually ranges from $7 to $10 in New Jersey, except for special events.
Contra dancing is lively so dress comfortably. Many dance locations are not air conditioned, so wear light clothing in the summer.
Even when a hall is air conditioned in the summer or when the weather outside is cold, contra dancing is vigorous and aerobic, so most dancers will be more comfortable in lighter clothing.
For more information about the Project's Swingin' Tern dances, email
For a more extended discussion of Contra Dance, see the page by Gary Shapiro. Contra Dances always feature a live band and caller, a great deal for the price! Most dances also provide refreshments.
All Contra Dances are held in a smoke free and alcohol free environment.