By Rick Mohr; September 2015

Contra, Becket Caller's Box

Level: Intermediate


Shift left to meet next couple (2)

Circle left 3/4 (6)

Swing neighbor (8)


Down the center, four in line (6)

Sliding doors (trade places as couples and turn alone) (4)

Return (still in line, face the center) (6)


Half hey (1's pass right shoulders to start) (8)

1's, then 2's: push off with partner (8)


1's, then 2's: gents draw partner back and left (8)

Swing partner (12 for 1's, 8 for 2's)

"Push-offs" were invented by dancers improvising during heys, and have been finding their way into some dances written on purpose. Usually it's either gents or ladies doing the push-offs; here partners get to do push-offs with each other.

After coming up the hall in A2 dancers stay in their line of four and all face the center, so the 1's are face-to-face in the middle.

A floor demo can help everyone get the push-offs and flow of the B parts. I start with the half hey, noting how dancers make a counter-clockwise loop at the ends. Dancers duplicate that loop during the push-offs—approach from the right to meet partner, push off with both hands backing away to the left, and loop to the right to meet partner again. Gents continue the loop by backing away to the left again, this time drawing their partner with both hands for a swing. The 2's are about four beats later in their loop than the 1's, making for a nice alternation.

See Tag and ZagTag and Zag for notes on the "sliding doors" figure.

For Chrissy Fowler, fine caller, community creator, and bundle of positive energy from Belfast Maine. Her great-great-great-grandparents Thomas and Betsy Martin Fowler were the first white settlers of northerly Millinocket Maine, and her family still has a house in the nearby tiny village of Norcross. For decades tens of thousands of logs floated by every spring along the West Branch of the Penobscot River on their hair-raising journey to the sawmills of Bangor.

Video: Chrissy Fowler & Sassafras Stomp at Downeast Country Dance Festival 2017, Topsham, ME (video by David Andrews):