Friday, August 1, 2008

The Moon: I Don't Want to Live on the Moon

Ann Percival: I Don't Want To Live On The Moon


Once again, I would like to thank a favorite blogger for the wonderful music he has shared. This one comes from our own Boyhowdy's wonderful Covered in Kidfolk series on Cover Lay Down. And I also want get up on my soapbox for just a moment. Boyhowdy is one of three posters here, myself included, who I know have kids. And one thing we parents are constantly dealing with is trying to find music the kids will love, that we as adults can stand to listen to, or even, (dare I think it!), enjoy. So I'd like to suggest that we share our discoveries by having a week of kid's songs. This should include songs our little ones love that aren't necessarily written for children at all.

Now that that's out of the way, Ann Percival is a wonderful musician from Massachusetts, and one of the founding members of Wild Asparagus. I was introduced to Wild Asparagus as the best contradance band in the world. At this point, at least some readers have to be shaking their heads. "Wild Asparagus? Contradance? Is that some folk tradition from Nicaragua? What is he talking about?" So let me tell you a story.

Everyone I've ever asked about this had an unfortunate first exposure to square dancing. There was one teacher in elementary school who everyone hated, and she decided that all of the kids should learn square dancing in gym class. And she wasn't even the gym teacher, but she taught the square dancing anyway. For most people, this ruined the idea of square dancing for life. And I was almost one of those casualties.

When I was in my twenties, a good friend of mine from high school asked me if I would like to go to a contradance. Of course I asked, "what's that?" Everyone who knows starts their answer the same way, and it's the worst thing to say, "It's sort of like square dancing..." However, I trusted him, and because the invitation was to go with a group of people I liked, I finally allowed myself to be dragged along.

It turns out that square dancing and contradancing are two American folk dance forms that evolved from the English country dances that were brought to the colonies by early settlers. Where square dancing is what happened to these dances when they came to the South, contradancing is how these dances evolved in New England. In contradances, the dancers form two lines facing each other, with your partner facing you in the other line. Each couple dances with every other couple in their line as they progress up and down the line. And one thing you didn't learn in gym class, flirting is essential!

So I went to my first dance in a state of high anxiety, and, much to my surprise, I had a blast. I started going to every dance I could find, and I started making new friends. I was also getting great exercise. One new friend was a woman who ran a local square dance club. Now, where contradances are held with live music, club squares use recorded music, some of it pretty awful. Also square dance clubs involve dressing up in western wear, whereas the only dress code for a contradance is soft-soled shoes to protect the floor of the hall. So all my left over alarms from elementary school went off all over again. The argument that finally persuaded me to give club squares a try was, look what happened when you allowed yourself to try contradancing. Well, the results with club squares were even more spectacular; in short order, I met the woman who would become my wife. To this day, however, I would still rather go to a contradance.

So, if you ever get asked to go to a contradance, give it a try. Who knows?

Submitted by Darius

blog comments powered by Disqus