Greta Christina

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Dancing

I like to dance.

A lot.

I'm currently with a longsword dance team called Stinging Nettle Longsword. Longsword is a display dance tradition from the British Isles; the Nettles do a fairly non-traditional version of it here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we write all our own dances. Longsword is hard to describe; the best I can say is that it involves dancers joining the swords (which aren't sharp) in a ring and then folding the ring into intricate origami-like patterns. (No, it's nothing like Riverdance, and if you suggest that it is I might have to bite you.) You find out more about the Nettles (be warned: we recruit), or see online videos of what we look like dancing.

Ingrid and I also do this thing called English Country Dancing, or ECD. It's the stuff they do in Jane Austen movies, with the two lines of dancers weaving and intertwining in intricate patterns and figures. The dances range from elegant and genteel to boisterous and jolly, and from simple to complex. We mostly do ECD at dances put on by the Bay Area Country Dance Society, or BACDS. (In 2003 I was suckered into being on the BACDS Board of Directors, thus affording me yet another forum in which to shoot my mouth off.)

In addition to dancing ECD, I've written a few of my own English country dances as well. You're welcome to call and use any of these as long as I get credit. Here are the notes/instructions for my dances.

To make matters worse, I've recently taken up Contra dancing as well. Contra is sort of like English country dancing, but more boisterous and raucous, with more of an American flavor -- sort of like a Jane Austen hoedown. (Historically, it's what English country dancing turned into while it was in the process of evolving into American country and square dancing.) In 2004, the brand-new San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Contra Dance started up, which is mostly how I got involved in Contra, and I was almost immediately suckered into being on the organizing committee for it. The Lesbian/Gay Contra Dance is a hoot and a holler, very beginner-friendly and welcoming to folks of all orientations. Come check it out.

Ingrid and I also do historical and vintage ballroom dancing. (This differs from modern ballroom dancing in that it involves very little salsa and a whole lot of polkas. Also, the waltzing is very twirly.) We mostly do this at events hosted by PEERS (the Period Events and Entertainments Re-Creation Society). PEERS puts on ballroom dances ten times a year, in an assortment of historical themes. They're not rigid historical-accuracy costume fascists, and while some folks there get into a certain amount of theatricality and role-playing, for most attendees it's essentially an excuse to dress up in cool costumes and dance 'til your feet fall off.

Ingrid also does Morris dancing with Berkeley Morris, thus making me a Morris widow for much of May and June.

Here are some other cool dance organizations I sometimes dance with, or plan to someday, or that I just think are neat:

Sundance Saloon (gay/lesbian Country-Western dancing)
Women's Contra (pretty much what it sounds like)
Queer Jitterbugs (ditto)
BAERS (Bay Area English Regency Society; more English Country Dancing)
Gaskell's (Victorian ballroom dancing)
Dancilla (an online archive of folk dancing videos)

     

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