Farmington Contradance News
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March 2, 2014

A deeply felt thank you to the two or three of you who responded to last month’s email with offers of assistance to help us cover the work of running the dance in the coming year and at least partially offset our (hopefully temporary) reduced resources.

This month’s dance details for Saturday evening March 8 are at the end of the message, but please read all the way down as there are some significant changes coming after this month and we don’t want to take anyone by surprise.

Just to refresh your memory and provide some context for the changes, the bunch of us who do the backbone tasks of organizing this dance work with the following vision for our dance in Farmington:

  • To have a small but vibrant, regular, local dance run by community volunteers.
  • To run the dance in a way that is supportive of local musicians, and welcoming to people who haven’t danced before as well as our regulars.
  • To build community in contradancing that creates a hunger, appetite and love for the dance among all ages.
  • To get home before we turn into pumpkins at midnight.

As we mentioned in emails over the past three months, we’ll be doing the work this year with fewer regular volunteers, and some significant conflicts in the calendars and lives of our regular organizers. We hope that will change in the future, but in order to keep things going this year with the resources we are pretty sure we have, the first big change is that THERE WILL BE NO DANCE in JUNE or JULY.

The next big change is that we are scaling back the family dance to four times a year. We will have a family dance as usual this month, but going forward we will hold a FAMILY DANCE ONLY in MAY, SEPTEMBER, AND WHEN THE FRANKLIN COUNTY FIDDLERS PLAY (usually November and February).

Additionally, in the future we’ll have an organized SNACK TABLE ONLY during FAMILY DANCE MONTHS (see above).

These are all permanent changes until such times as our volunteer ranks grow again to fully cover these activities. We are hopeful to be able to cover this limited plan with the resources available this year, but even that will require a little more help than we currently have specific commitments for. So please don’t hold back if you can help.

There is also a change that we don’t feel so good about. We’ve noticed over the past few months that the amount of money we’re collecting at the door just isn’t reconciling with number of dancers on the floor, even when we account for the family max and student rates. This makes us very sad because a lot of us wanted the honor system to work, and truly the dance is an incredible bargain for an evening with live music in a rented space. But it’s not working and we really hate sending our musicians home with less than they should have, so we will be experimenting with different ways of staffing the door again. We hope you’ll help.

So if you’d like to help us make it all work, here are some things we need help with:

  • We need a larger crew of people willing to commit in advance (at least three months in advance, really) to be an opening/closing team. If you are shy about doing this but want to give it a try, we are HAPPY to have you be part of the team on months when our regular organizers are here and you can learn while helping instead of being in charge. Even if you don’t ever want to do it alone but are willing to commit for months when only one of us can make it that would be helpful. Contact us to discuss more details.
  • We need people to sit out a dance or two and tend the door. You can do this for one or two dances, and then turn it over to someone else. This isn’t very organized yet but the more people step up the easier it will be to get it to work without a cumbersome system. So for now, just sit at the table if no one is there, or if someone has been there for a couple dances, ask if they’d like you to sit for a couple. Just greet and welcome people, be sure they pay, and be encouraging if they are shy newcomer.
  • We ALWAYS  need help sweeping before and after the dance. The floor gets a lot of use and there is nothing like dancing and twirling to get street grit to grind the finish off the floor!
  • I’m sure there are lots of other things that will help the dance go better that someone out there has the skills/abilities to provide. Designing fliers, signs or posters? Handling some publicity medium we don’t have covered? Organizing the snacks on family dance nights (because the opening/closing is really enough for one set of volunteers…)? Something we haven’t even thought of?

The last significant item we made plans for at our meeting was cancellations. We’ve had as many cancellations this year as in the past decade of our dance. The weather patterns make us think that we need to be better prepared going forward. SOOOO…..if the dance has to be cancelled we are going to try the following methods and hope that most, if not all of them, work.

We’ll try to make the decision by 3:00pm on dance day.
We will try to post a notice on the Daily Bulldog online cancellation board.
We will try to notify WKTJ radio.
We will try to leave a message that you can call and get at 207-491-3490

We may get more things in place in the future, but for now those are all things we think can be done no matter who is our in-charge open/close team for the month. But it’ll be wonderful if we never have to test the system.

6:30 – Family Dance with Kenlyn Clark calling. Cynthia Phinney will head up the sit-in band. Bring your instruments or dancing shoes (or both) and join us!
7:30 – Potluck Snacks – bring something to share
8:00 – Contradance with the Racket Factory, Cynthia Phinney calling

Evening dance: $6/Adults, $5/Students, $15 family max, $4/ family dance sit-in musicians
Family dance: $2/Adults, $1/children – deductible from evening dance if you stay (sit-in musicians free)

SHOE ALERT: Remember to bring clean, non-marking shoes for dancing on the beautiful hardwood floor at the Grange.
August 23, 2013

September this year is the launch of the Crossroads International Celtic Festival, which will run from September 11-15 and include the night of our dance. We're excited about the great music that will be scattered throughout our region for those five days, and looking forward to making our dance a little extra special that evening for folks who either opt to come dancing that night as their Crossroads event, or for folks who attend other events in the Farmington area and when those events end might want to keep the magic going so will come to join us later in the evening.

In addition to our regular family and evening dances, we will host a dessert bar with servings at both 7:30 (immediately following the family dance) and at 9:15 (in the middle of the evening dance). The dessert bar is $5.00, with funds going to beneift the Grange, who own and manage the lovely building we dance in.

We hope to see lots of our regular dancers that night, and to welcome out-of-town participants of the Crossroads Festival.

Feb 13, 2010

I’m excited about seeing and talking with all of you who can join us this evening at 5:00 for our annual patting-ourselves-on-the-back and planning-for-next-year potluck. Followed, of course, by a great evening of music and dancing.

All at the Fairbanks Union School Community Center
Route 4, north of Farmington (on the left, just shortly south of where Route 27 turns off  toward New Vineyard)

5:00 – 6:30 POTLUCK bring food, ideas, concerns, enthusiasm
6:30 – 7:30 FAMILY DANCE, calling by Kim Roberts
7:30 – 8:00 Snacks & Treats Potluck – bring a snack to share between dances
8:00 – 11:00 CONTRADANCE
            Racket Factory with Cynthia Phinney calling

We’ll be discussing:

  • Whether to continue the Family Dance after our year trial runs out next month
  • Spreading the tasks so the organizer doesn’t burn out
  • Strengthening our financial base
  • Building our dancer base

I hope to see you there.

Call me if you have questions before this evening. 207-491-9928.

Feb 2, 2009

Important event updates this month, with dance details below.

With the recent closing of the Norridgewock, Strong, and Fairfield dances, as well as the failure of the new Skowhegan dance to gain a sufficient quorum to continue, the Farmington Dance is the only regular contradance that we are aware of established and ongoing in this part of the state. And we're holding our own. But we'd like to take some steps to move our existence from "Holding our Own" into the "Thriving" arena. On February 14 from 6:00 to 7:00 before our regular dance that evening, we'll host a potluck at the dance venue for everyone who would like to be part of planning and taking these steps.

Over time, several people have expressed an interest in adding some sort of family dance to our dance evening. If we can get the rest of the pieces to come together, and if there is sufficient interest, Kim Roberts has volunteered to coordinate this part of the evening, as well as to commit to calling for one year while we see if we can get it off the ground. So we'll be discussing this possibility to assess interest and see if we can lock down the other essential components.

Other topics on the agenda include:

  • Do we want to change our pricing structure or do we think the current pricing accomplishes our goals?
  • Are there other ways we can publicize the dance and, if so, are there people who are willing to handle those details?
  • Should we end the dance earlier? (Many evenings over the past year the crowd has drizzled down to barely workable after the break, and often even those dancers are ready to stop before 11:00).
  • Other ideas to increase our base of committed dancers so there is adequate energy every month to make a fun evening for all and make people want to come back (and might this have an impact on the issue of time, above?)
  • How can we organize the opening/closing/and door responsibilities so that Cynthia knows more than a day in advance that everything is covered on the months that she can't be there, and so that she and Paul don't have to take care of everything in the months that she is there (especially those months where she is also calling and/or playing)? The work to find someone to cover these responsibilities for the months that I'm away, and the stress when I'm unable to find someone until the last minute or have to piece it together and hope for the best, has severely diminished my feeling that organizing the dance is a fun part of my life - and that won't be sustainable for much longer. So help us come up with a better plan
  • Other goals that may emerge.

So, if this is your LOCAL DANCE, we really hope that you can join us and help us chart the course and build our dance so that we continue to have a healthy local dance in our area. I'll look forward to seeing all who can come.

Saturday, February 14
The Racket Factory, with Cynthia Phinney calling
Fairbanks Union School Community Center, Route 4, Farmington - a little ways north of town, just before Route 27 takes off toward New Vineyard and Kingfield.
Beginner/Brush-up workshop 7:30, regular dancing begins a 8:00 and goes until the dancers fade out or 11:00, whichever comes first!
Admission $6.00, $15.00 immediate family max - extra donations always accepted. Please bring clean soft-soled shoes to protect the dance floor.

We will need help for March as I have a conference and will be out of town. We need responsible people to open and close and tend the door. While it is always best to have a person other than the hired caller who takes this responsibility, in the case of this venue it is particularly important and we will not hold the dance in March if we cannot find someone to cover that responsibility. Please let me know ASAP if you are willing help.

Mercer, February 7 at the Mercer Community Center (former elementary school, Route 2, Mercer)
John & Ellen Gawler, with John McIntire calling
For more info call Dorothy 587-2361

DownEast Country Dance Festival
March 28-30, Topsham ME (plus Survivors' Dance March 30 in North Yarmouth)
Full details at
Dancing, workshops on dancing, workshops on instruments, singing, performances, family activities, film…….something for everyone who loves music and dance, new or experienced.

Thanks again to the several people who assisted with finding us a winter space, especially Kathy Beaubien who went and physically checked out some of the options and finalized our arrangements and is our continuing liaison for the Fairbanks School venue. We hope to return to the Farmington Grange in April.

Jan 7, 2009 Get your dancing shoes out and come check out our new winter venue this Saturday. The Fairbanks Union School Community Center is on Routes 4&27, north of Farmington on the left just shortly before Routes 4 and 27 split. It's the site of an old schoolhouse that burned several years ago and was rebuilt as a small community center - the building is still reminiscent of a wood-frame schoolhouse on the outside.

We'll be dancing to the music of the Franklin County Fiddlers and the calling of John McIntire. The Fiddlers always provide an energy-filled evening. Bring your family and friends. Basics/Brush-up workshop at 7:30 for anyone who is interested, official dancing starts at 8:00 and goes until 11:00. Admission $6.00, $15.00 immediate family max. Extra donations always accepted and appreciated.

We will need help for March as I have a conference and will be out of town. I need responsible people to open and close and tend the door. Please let me know if you can help.

Thanks again to the several people who assisted with finding us a winter space, especially Kathy Beaubien who went and physically checked out some of the options and finalized our arrangements in Fairbanks. We hope to return to the Farmington Grange in April.

Feb 11, 2008

This winter and spring we have a special opportunity for those who would like to learn the art and practice of calling dances. The DownEast Country Dance Festival is sponsoring some workshops. There will be two beginning caller workshops, one led by John McIntire and one led by Chrissy Fowler.

Our dance will host session one of John's two-session class on March 8.

Later this year there will be a weekend workshop to learn the next steps. That workshop will be led by Lisa Greenleaf. People who have participated in one of John or Chrissy's local caller workshops over the past couple years will get priorty for the slots in that weekend. More details will be posted as they become available.

May 6, 2007

Yes - we are back at the Farmington Grange. Thank you SO much to the Wilson Grange for hosting us in February and March. The atmosphere was just right!

We have two special things planned for the May dance. First, we will have calling by a bevy of new callers under the tutelage of John McIntire. Let's turn out a good crowd for them to call for!
Also, special for the may dance, a 7:00 Waltz workshop led by Sandy River. Join us to learn or practice the waltz - both the basic turning waltz that we generally do at contradances, and the box waltz.

This month we will be kicking off a drive to grow our list of Supporting Sustainers from seven to fifteen. If you've been thinking about supporting the dance in this way, now would be a great time to come forward. The Supporting Sustainers have helped us stabilize our finances and guaranteed that we meet expenses reasonably even on nights with lower dancer turnout. To become a supporting sustainer, fill out one of the salmon-colored brochures at the dance and return it to us with your payment.

Feb 4, 2007

We are pleased that we will be able to dance at the Wilson Grange in East Wilton for the months of February and March, until the Farmington Grange reopens in April. The Wilson Grange folks are excited to have us, and we are extending a 1/2 price admission offer to Grange members. You can find directions and download a map of all our locations - including the Wilson Grange - on the Directions page.

Note that in March you will again have a chance to learn - or continue to learn - the HAMBO. Sandy and Alan will lead another workshop for us, starting at 7:00 before the March 10 dance. The Hambo is a lovely Scandinavian couples' dance, often danced at modern Maine contradances as a first dance after the break before starting contras again. The workshop is free with dance admission. You can download a flier for the Hambo workshop.

There will be NO beginner workshop on March 10, due to the Hambo workshop. Music that night will be by the Old Grey Goose - folks whose music I've been dancing to since I first started contradancing back in about 1982. Don't miss this opportunity to hear and dance to some really fine New England contra music!

Dec 10, 2007

We have secured City Lights North for the December & January dances (see the Directions page to find it). February and March are still up in the air. Suggestions welcome - we are presently following a couple leads.

Details for the upcoming Caller Workshop led by John McIntire have be confirmed. Anyone interested in learning to call dances is welcome. You can download a flier here. Don't miss it! (and if you like Chinese food, plan to get supper on the 6th at the China Star restaurant just down the road from the Norridgewock Grange - it's really yummy!)

Sept 4, 2006

Big doings in the works for the October dance.

As a special fun and fundraiser for our dance, several special events are planned for October 14 (our usual second-Saturday).

First, the West Farmington House Band will be playing for dancing at the Grange. Sit-in musicians are always welcome to play with the House Band (and get in for half-price).

In conjunction with the dance we have tentative plans to hold a fundraiser CakeWalk sometime mid-dance that evening. What's a Cake Walk? Well - the details are still unfolding, but there will be Cakes, and music, and of course you get to dance (or walk) to the music and some people will go home with cakes! It promises to be fun.

There will also be special door prizes this month including music, free dance tickets, and more (we would welcome donations of additional door prizes. Contact Cynthia).

The cakewalk will charge an extra donation, but there is no extra charge for the dance and door prizes. So come out to the dance and bring your family and friends. We hope to see you there.

Sept 4, 2006

Have you - or anyone you know - ever thought about learning to call dances? John McIntire and Cynthia Phinney are working on putting together a two-Saturday class, "Contradance Calling: The Short Course" that should serve as a solid basic introduction as well as a fine review for someone who already knows the basics but doesn't call frequently.

Tentative plans call for two four-hour classes with an opportunity to call a dance or two (that you've practiced) at an evening dance following the second class. We are aiming for sometime in January or February of this year in the Central Maine area.

Watch this site for more details as they develop. If you want to be contacted directly when things fall into place, contact John McIntire at 207-568-7597 or Cynthia Phinney at

July 25, 2006

We're on the radio!

The piece that Jodi Hausen did on our dance for Maine Public Radio aired this evening. If you missed it, you can listen to it online on the Maine Public Radio website. (updated info follows: September 4)
To listen go to Maine Things Considered Audio-On-Demand
Then, on the left side of the page, click on "Maine News Audio Archives"
It will take you to a search page. Type in the word contradance (all one word) and in a few minutes it will bring up a listing for the piece.
Click on the listing. Then wait.
It will open up your Windows Media Player program and start to play the piece.

If you have a dialup or other slow connection, just let it download and play all the way through (it will do this in bits and will take some time). Then go back and start it over and it will play normally.

July 9, 2006

We now have a sandwich board sign to announce the dance to the passing public. Thank you to Monica Mann for making and donating it! Sandy River will be putting the sign out in front of the Grange during the day on dance days.

Thanks also to Brian Dreher for bringing fans to the dance last night to help cool the hot dancers.

We have our first three supporting sustainers. This is a great start. Our goal is to enroll fifteen to twenty as soon as possible. All the details and a sign-up form are included in the brochure, as well as a list of other ways you can support the dance. If you are not in a financial position to become a Supporting Sustainer but know someone else who might be, please reach out to them.

June 12, 2006 We have a completely overhauled and updated website (and you are looking at it!). We will be tweaking and finishing it over the next couple of months, so check back.
May 21, 2006 I am pleased to report that several people responded by email and/or participated in the emergency meeting before the May dance to chart a path forward for our dance in facing the financial challenges.

Below are the immediate steps we will be taking to keep our dance going strong, and to keep dancing at the Grange. Additional ideas, input, and participation are welcome.

1) ADMISSION PRICE: Effective immediately the admission price for the dance will be $6 per person, with a $15 max for families (this really means immediate family or family you live with - not the universe of anyone related to you in any way). This alone will not be sufficient to overcome the gap!

2) SUPPORTING SUSTAINER PROGRAM: We will establish a "Supporting Sustainer" program for people who wish to support the dance financially in a significant and predictable way. Supporting Sustainers will contribute $100 per year. For that year, they will be able to attend all dances without paying at the door. A small portion of the $100 will be saved for emergency dance expenses. The remainder will be divided into twelve equal portions and go into the take at the door for each dance, whether or not that supporter actually attends all the dances.

The Supporting Sustainer program allows a participant to support the dance every month, whether or not s/he can actually attend every month, and at a slightly higher contribution rate than the normal door charge. It will give us regular predictable minimum income, while still allowing us to keep the door price low for dancers in tighter financial constraints. The goal is to find 15-20 Supporting Sustainers. At least three have already expressed a willingness to sign on.

3) FORMAL ORGANIZATION: Because the Supporting Sustainer will work better if we have a bank account, we will move toward setting up a formal organization to coordinate the dance (currently all money that comes in on a given evening goes out that same evening).

4) EXTRA DONATIONS: The admission price notice on the money can will invite people to make an extra donation if they wish. This will allow dancers who cannot afford to be a Supporting Sustainer but still wish to help keep the minimum admission low for others to contribute a little extra when they are at the dance.

5) SIGNAGE OUTSIDE THE GRANGE: Sandy River has offered to barter her acupuncture services with a local sign maker to get us a banner that can be hung on the building to advertise the dance (the Grange had suggested this to us a few years ago - but we had not gotten around to following up). She will also recruit someone to make a sandwich board that can be used in the sidewalk area at both the Grange and City Lights (or wherever else we end up in the winter) to announce the dance on the day of. (News Flash 6/10/2006 - Monica Mann has volunteered to make the sandwich board!)

6) BROCHURE: Cynthia will create a brochure about the dance that can be used at the dance as well as potentially at other local venues where the dance can be promoted. Stan will create some drawings for the brochure, and Jodi will take a photo of the Grange for Stan or other artists to draw from. The brochure will also serve as a signup form for the Supporting Sustainer program.

7) ADDITIONAL PUBLICITY: Jodi took pictures of dancers at the May dance and is working on a newspaper article about the dance. She has also contributed some pictures to be used when we update the website (News Flash 6/10/2006 - Jodi is also working on a radio piece)

8) JOINING THE GRANGE: Sandy River and Cynthia have applied to join the Grange. At least one other person who was not able to attend the meeting expressed an interest in doing that as well. This will allow us to become a more active part of seeing to the health and well-being of the wonderful building.

9) ADDITIONAL FUNDRAISING: We are exploring possibilities for one or two dances each year that will be special fundraisers. These may involve the House Band (which invites sit-in musicians and which does not get paid) or other volunteer musicians, and special activities such as a cake walk. We will try for maximum fun, minimum extra work on these events - but they will require participation and contributions from more people in order to work (cake bakers, for instance).

How you can help:

  • Dance often!
  • Bring your friends to the dance
  • Become a Supporting Sustainer
  • Volunteer to put up fliers in your area
  • Volunteer to bring snacks for the dancers (this doesn't help directly with money - just makes the dance more fun)
  • Volunteer to staff the door for an evening
  • Volunteer to cook/bake for special fundraisers
  • Other ideas?

See you on the dance floor!