Ottawa Contra Dance

What is contra dancing???

  • It is a hot community dance experience!
  • Dances always feature fabulous live music and calling from the Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, the New England states, and beyond.
  • No partner necessary and beginners are welcome!

Are there regular dances in Ottawa???

Where: Churchill Rec Centre (345 Richmond Road)
When: 1st & 3rd Saturdays, 8-11pm with beginners lesson at 7:30pm
Cost: $12, $10 for members and students, dancers 16 and under are free
Contact info: 613-725-3709 or

Want to know a bit more????

Here’s the secret… anyone can contra dance! It’s great fun as a beginner and easy to learn the basic moves – a wonderful evening from the start. However, experienced dancers love contra dancing because if you pick up little tricks and timing as well as work on connection, it gets tighter and more electrifying… so in this way, it can be whatever you put into it. That and it’s a great community of people. ?

Here’s the dry definition… Contra is a form of community dance where you begin and finish one dance (about 10min) with the same partner, progressing up and down the hall in long lines while you dance with different sets of other couples, repeating a sequence of moves guided by the caller. Essentially it’s lots of fun AND excellent exercise.

A bit on its history… Contra dancing originated in the New England states as a traditional form of dance combining elements of dance from England and France. In the 1960s and 1970s, it caught on big time with the college crowd and then exploded in the folk scene. There are techno contra bands, bands with swing music, and klezmer sounding bands although the main style is more Quebecois-Irish-Appalachian groove music. With regular dances, dance weekends, and festivals all over, you can dance your way across North America.

Contra dances started in Ottawa about twenty five years ago through the Old Sod Folk Music Society and have been going strong ever since. In addition to our regular dance series, we have held dance weekends and partnered with organizations like the Ottawa Folk Festival do contra dances in other contexts. Come out and give contra dancing a try!