The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #69533   Message #1180476
Posted By: Desert Dancer
07-May-04 - 01:07 PM
Thread Name: Whapweasel (English Dance??)
Subject: RE: Whapweasel (English Dance??)
I really want to get my hands on that Topic "Stepping Up" compilation. It think it's an interesting topic. Here in the U.S. contra dance scene the music has evolved as well. The first time I heard Wild Asparagus, at a dance camp, I got really grumpy and thought, "I didn't come here to dance to rock music, I came to contra dance!" (Granted, grumpy came easily, since I was exhausted from being one of the weekend's organizers, and it was our first time!)

I recently listed to the EFDSS's "Keep Dancing" cd, and while I didn't get as grumpy, I found that it wasn't what I wanted to listen to or use in my classes - I'd rather use Mark Bazely and Jason Rice (who have a retro-traditional sound, I understand). I think I'd rather ceilidh without the "e-", but my exposure has been extremely limited, and in context, like at an actual dance (with a few beers!) my reaction might be different.

Over here, modern contra dance music style, and the dancing, too, has gotten very smooth and slinky and makes your backbone bend laterally (that is, your hips move!) in ways they never used to. Here, it's jazz that has informed the change quite a bit. I hear more rock in the English music, and find it interesting that other European sounds come in, too. The Seattle contra band, KGB, takes in eastern European sounds; others have absorbed Scandinavian or South American styles. To put it in perspective, in the video on the career of Bob McQuillen, a piano player who's been in the New England contra scene since the 40's, he says it was a big adventure when people started exploring Irish tunes in the 70's.

Some musicians will find one thing and stick to it, others will always be sampling and exploring and adapting new sounds. For me, I enjoy the range of possibilities, although my personal favorites are on the more trad. and mid-range of the scale.

But, the bottom line for me: if people are making the music and people are dancing to it (that is, doing contra or ceilidh, as opposed to independently writhing and gyrating ;-) , then it's a great thing to have around.

~ Becky in Tucson, Arizona