Frequently Asked Questions

Contra Dancing FAQ

What is contra dancing?

It's super fun but really hard to describe: check out this video, then come to our dance and give it a try! Beginners are always welcome at our dances.

I've never contra danced before. What should I bring with me?


Wear comfortable clothing and be prepared to sweat some; it's a good idea to bring an extra shirt, especially in the summer.

Bring a clean pair of shoes to change into, in order to protect the floor. Many dancers prefer suede or leather soles, but sneakers are fine—you don't need anything special, just avoid tracking in grit from outside.

Where else can I dance!

We're glad you asked! Check out


What does BIDA stand for?

Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates

How do you pronounce "BIDA," anyway?


Where is your dance and how can I get there?

We're accessible by public transportation! Most of our dances are held at the Cambridge Masonic Hall, 1950 Mass Ave Cambridge, which is less than a block from the Porter Square stop on the Red Line. For other public transit options try Google Maps transit directions. If you prefer to drive, on-street parking is free on Sundays, with no permit required.

Whaddaya mean, "intergenerational?"

We want to encourage everyone to socialize and dance with people from different generations, in order to share their enthusiasm and experience, and to have fun! We think our dance community will benefit from breaking down barriers that seem to exist between generations. You have all these goals: how do you make them work? We hold a variety of different events, some of which focus on certain goals more than others. As a whole, we make sure that all of our events work towards our primary goal of developing community. Our potlucks and parties allow people to socialize informally, and we encourage people to wear nametags at our events. We post etiquette and dance style posters encouraging everyone to think about how they can improve their own dancing and raise the dancing level of the community, and we also ask our callers to give style and dance-improvement tips from the mic. Our mentoring program cultivates opportunities for experienced performers to share their knowledge with newcomers, which also strengthens everyone's ties to the community.

How can I get involved in BIDA?

Thanks for asking! We'd love to have you get involved. There are lots of opportunities available for dancers, musicians, callers, and organizers, whatever level of experience or interest you might have. Check out our "Get Involved" page for details!

How can I start something like this in my area?

First, figure out what your goals are, and how a new dance organization can benefit your community. Then, check out the amazing "starter kit" resources provided by the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). These cover all sorts of dance-related topics, and the section on organizing community dances is especially helpful if you want to start an organization like BIDA. And feel free to email us at We'll be happy to share any experience or ideas that we have, and we are always interested in learning about what other groups are doing.

Does BIDA have bylaws?

Yes! Have fun reading through them.

What do you tell callers and bands about your dance, to let them know what to expect?

Check out our caller and band welcome pages.

Can I come and play for the dance?

You have a bunch of options:

  • We hold open bands about once a quarter and people of any level are welcome to come and play.

  • When we hold family dances before our evening dances, also about once a quarter, we have an open band to accompany them as well.

  • You're welcome to come and sit in with any of our bands. Unless the band invites you to sit up with them, this means at the back of the stage, off mic.

  • If you'd like to be booked to play for BIDA, talk to Kelly ( ) or Ben (

What tunes do you play at your open bands?

Check out our open band tune list.

How much does BIDA pay people for things?

Our pay rates are public. For performers we offer guarantees, with the possibility of profit sharing if we have high attendance.

How do I know when upcoming open bands and family dances will be?

Pre-covid, our schedule for these was:
3rd Sunday in Septemberfamily dance
1st Sunday in Octoberopen band
3rd Sunday in Octoberfamily dance [avoid timechange weekend]
1st Sunday in Decemberopen band
3rd Sunday in Januaryfamily dance
1st Sunday in Marchopen band
1st Sunday in Aprilfamily dance [avoid neffa]
3rd Sunday in Mayopen band
3rd Sunday Junefamily dance [avoid 7/4]
Currently we're still scheduling these on an ad-hoc basis.

Is your dance wheelchair accessible? Are you fragrance-free?

See our accessibility information.

How many dancers do you tend to get?

About 125, but it varies (chart).

What do your finances look like?

Most of the time we make a bit of money, some of which goes to th band and caller as profit sharing and the rest we keep for dances that lose money (chart).

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