English Country Dance is fun, relatively easy, community-oriented dancing with live music. All dances are taught. No partner is required. Beginners are encouraged to participate. No special dress is required.
Country dancing is all about the community dancing together. It can be simple, doesn’t have to involve intricate steps – you’re basically walking. You and a partner are dancing with another couple, then you move on to another couple. For it to be successful you need a lot of people and you’re all working together; the whole community is moving in time to music. At its best it can… be transcendental. You definitely are lifted outside yourself into a feeling of fellowship and community.
For many, it’s the music – hauntingly beautiful tunes that make the heart swell. Some dance tunes are taken from old ballads and political satire; others come from classical music and operas. This gives ECD music tremendous variety; sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes absolutely driven with a pulsating beat. The Mendocino English Country Dance features live music, played by “Take A Dance” English Country Dance orchestra. Others love ECD for the grace and elegance with which you glide as you dance. At times, you simply get swept away as you become one with the music. Many people love the beautiful patterns that you create as you dance and weave. Through it all, there’s an indefinable quality to ECD that makes it energizing, mesmerizing, and just plain fun.
If you can walk and know the difference between left and right, you already have much of the basic knowledge you’ll need. Most of the movements are based simply on a walking or skipping step. Dancers move in a number of specific “figures”, sometimes holding hands, sometimes by themselves. Each dance is prompted by a dance leader, so that each figure and movement is called in time to the music; you don’t need to rely on your memory alone to know what to do.
Partners are not necessary; you can come by yourself and be assured of dancing throughout the evening, since the tradition is to change partners for each dance. The Mendocino English Country Dance is social and friendly, and the atmosphere is informal. No special clothing is needed, other than clean, soft-soled shoes or sneakers.