The Bay Area Country Dance Society Website

This page is: www.bacds.org

www.bacds.org > events

Special Events and Projects

In addition to our dance series and camps, BACDS and its performance teams have a number of special events. These range from formal and costume balls to sunrise dances to appearances in a neighborhood near you.

English Dance Style Workshop / Playford Ball / May Day / Morris Season / Halloween Ball / Fall Ball / No Snow Ball / New Year's Eve Eve English Dance / New Year's Eve at the Palo Alto Contra / Swinging On The Gate / Waltzes Before Breakfast More Waltzes Before Breakfast Chocolates Before Breakfast

You can also see what you missed from our past events.


English Dance Style Workshop

A workshop to help English Country dancers to improve their dancing and take it to the next level, showing you how to feel musical phrases, move with the flow, connect with your fellow dancers, and otherwise get the most out of English Country Dancing. All the points will be illustrated with dances, but the dances will all be simple or well-known, so you can focus on the point without having to think of what comes next.


Playford Ball

BACDS's Playford Ball, started in 1980 by Brad Foster, is one of BACDS's earliest and most popular activities. While some communities have Playford Balls that limit themselves exclusively to dances that were published in John Playford and his descendents between 1650 and the late 1700s, ours covers dances written from 1650 to today. Starting in 2010, the Ball has been held at the historic San Jose Women's Club building. The Playford Ball takes place in late March or early April.

The Playford Ball, as well as the rehearsal dance the evening beforehand (starting in 2010, held at the Hill and Valley Club in Hayward) and additional practice dances in the east bay, Peninsula, and Sierra Foothills, are organized by a large committee that devotes a great deal of effort to making the Ball a splendid event. As a result, Ball attendees are treated to marvelous decorations, excellent food, and exquisite music. Very little dance instruction is required at the Ball, in large part because the Ball program and dance directions are distributed to west coast callers the November prior to the Ball.

Formal or festive attire is encouraged among ball attendees, with many attendees choosing to wear period costume (although hoops and panniers are discouraged due to space considerations) or outfits relating to the year's theme. Attendance has been between 100-150 for the past several years; sizable contingents from southern California and the Pacific northwest, as well as attendees from New York, Boston, and Alaska, have been in regular attendance.


May Day

From time immemorial (which is to say, since the Oxford University Morris Men first joined an existing college-sponsored May Day dawn festivity during the 1920s), morris dancers have danced up the sun on the first of May. Some say they do it because it wouldn't come up otherwise.

BACDS teams have been dancing the sun up in Berkeley since 1978, Palo Alto since 1985, Santa Cruz since 1991, and San Francisco since the late 1990s. In each of these locations, the event has become a local tradition attracting several hundred non-dancing attendees.


Morris Season

The different types of English display dance have their own distinctive seasons in their native habitat. Cotswold morris teams, with their sticks, hankies, and high leaps, are most visible between late April and late June. Northwest morris, featuring large groups, clogs, and processional dances, are traditionally found in autumn. Wintertime traditions include the precision of longsword and rapper teams; rag coats, sticks, and screaming of border teams, and Molly dancing's drag outfits and parodies of English country dance. While many BACDS teams perform these transplanted traditions year-round, performances tend to be more prevalent during the traditional seasons.


Halloween Ball

Held on the last Saturday in October, the Halloween contra is a special edition of the Palo Alto contradance, with calling by Special Ghosts. Door and costume prizes add to the festivity; costumes display the amazing creativity of the dance community.

2014 marks the 34th annual Hallowe'en Costume Ball, featuring touring caller Mary Wesley (Vermont) and Special Ghosts, with music by New England-based Pete's Posse (Facebook link) (Pete Sutherland, Oliver Scanlon, Tristan Henderson) 8:00pm–midnight with a delightfully scary evening of contra dances, waltzes, and other couple dances. Potluck contributions are welcome to supplement the provided refreshments — your chance to show off!


Fall Ball

Started in 1995 as a less-formal complement to the Playford Ball, the Fall Ball is an English country dance ball with a workshop during the afternoon of the event. The program has usually had a theme, featuring (for example) a preponderance of dances by Pat Shaw, Gary Roodman, or bay area choreographers, or showing the influence of Playford in the New World.

Callers have included David Newitt, Alisa Dodson, Bob Fraley, Lise Dyckman, Jenny Beer, James Hutson, Jody McGeen, Bruce Hamilton, Sharon Green, Robin Hayden, Gary Roodman, Kalia Kliban, Brooke Friendly, Ric Goldman, and Nicolas Broadbridge. The event usually occurs on the third Saturday in November.


No-Snow Ball

Some east coast communities have Snow Balls, festive contra balls and cotillions that take place in the midst of snowy winter. The No-Snow Ball, so-named because of the dearth of the white powder in coastal northern California, is a holiday contradance party (modeled after the Concord, MA, Christmas Cotillion) that takes place the first weekend in December.

The 28th Annual BACDS No Snow Ball will take place Saturday, December 6, 2014, 7-11pm. at a wonderful location—the gorgeous Alameda Ballroom, located at 1415 Broadway (between Central Ave. and Santa Clara Ave.) in Alameda, CA. (See map.)

This year we are very excited to have out of town giants Rodney Miller and David Cahn playing with local greats Chris Knepper and Charlie Hancock.

Calling will be by Susan Pleck and returning founder Charlie Fenton.

Admission is $25 for members, $30 for non-members, $20 for full-time students (with student ID). Children age 5 and under are FREE with a paying adult.

Festive attire is admired (but not required).

Please bring a potluck contribution to share; "special diet" items are especially welcome!

A limited number of work exchange discounts are available for those willing to assist with decorations, food preparation, setup, cleanup, etc.; mail nosnowball@bacds.org for information.


New Year's Eve English Dance

This all started with the turn of the Millenium. December 31, 1999 was a fifth Friday, and a regularly-scheduled Palo Alto English dance. So, we had a New Years' Eve dance to welcome in the year 2000. We liked it so much that we keep doing it again, and again! This is a low-key holiday party. Lots of dancing, great music, potluck food, and good friends.

This year we will be at our usual location, the Palo Alto Masonic Temple (461 Florence Ave, off University. We will be just a few blocks away from the Palo Alto New Years' Eve Contra Dance at the First United Methodist Church on Hamilton at Webster.

Beginner's Workshop 8:00 pm - dance 8:30 - midnight, potluck at midnight. December 31, 2013.


New Year's Eve at the Palo Alto Contra

Finish out the year with good cheer and good dancing at the Palo Alto Contra, with calling by Erik Hoffman to the music of Common Ground.   We will be back at our regular location: the First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave (near Middlefield Rd), Palo Alto. The fun starts at 8p and keeps on going until 12:15a, 2014! Price is $20 ($16 for members, $10 for students). Potluck contributions are welcome to supplement the provided refreshments — your chance to show off!

Please bring a potluck contribution to supplement the provided refreshments

Happy New Year!


Swinging On The Gate

Swinging On The Gate, BACDS's first recording, features tracks by fourteen of the bay area's finest dance bands. Made with the generous assistance of the Country Dance and Song Society's May Gadd/Phil Merrill Endowment Fund, many of the tracks are typical of what you would hear at bay area contra dances, with a few English country tunes mixed in. Performers on the CD include the Hillbillies From Mars, Shira Kammen & Jim Oakden, The Contrabandits, Stump Tail Dog, and Tipsy House.

The CD is available for fifteen dollars from many of the musicians on the recording, as well as at most BACDS dances, or online.


Waltzes Before Breakfast

Musician and composer George Paul has established a wonderful tradition at the BACDS American Week Dance & Music Camp. For the past few years George, along with various camper musicians, has enchanted early risers by playing waltz tunes, mostly his own compositions, for the dancing and listening enjoyment of those waiting for breakfast to be served. Traditional old-time music has Whiskey Before Breakfast; we have Waltzes Before Breakfast.

In 2011, American Week moved to a new location in La Honda, where the dining hall is also our main dance floor. This meant that George, joined by staff and camper musicians, could continue to play right through breakfast, much to our pleasure and delight!

On the last two mornings of camp in July 2011, Marty Brenneis recorded the early morning waltz music. No special setup, no studio silence, no meticulous rehearsals, no retakes. At the suggestion of several campers, Eric Black took that recording and turned it into a professional CD of camper music. This recording captures the magic of the moment, complete with the sounds and ambience of the camp dining hall before and during breakfast. Join us as we float spell-bound, enraptured by the beautiful waltz tunes composed by George and Laura, and played with haunting beauty by musicians who dance with their fingers as well as their feet.

BONUS! This enhanced CD includes the sheet music score for all tunes on the CD as PDF files. Pop the CD into your computer, and print the PDF files to have sheet music for all these beautiful waltzes.

This CD has three purposes: to capture and disseminate several new waltz tunes never recorded before; to provide AmWeek campers with a memory they can share with family and friends; and to help raise money for the camper scholarship fund.

The CD is available for fifteen dollars from many of the musicians on the recording, as well as at most BACDS dances, or online.


More Waltzes Before Breakfast

Once again, on the last two mornings of camp, we recorded the early morning waltz music. No special setup, no studio silence, no meticulous rehearsals, no retakes. We hear the excitement of the dancers as they enjoy the music played by fellow campers. Every tune is an original composition not recorded anywhere else. This year we present our second waltz CD, More Waltzes Before Breakfast.

BONUS! This enhanced CD includes the sheet music score for all tunes on the CD as PDF files. Pop the CD into your computer, and print the PDF files to have sheet music for all these beautiful waltzes.

This CD has three purposes: to capture and disseminate several new waltz tunes never recorded before; to provide AmWeek campers with a memory they can share with family and friends; and to help raise money for the camper scholarship fund.

The CD is available for fifteen dollars from many of the musicians on the recording, as well as at most BACDS dances, or online.


Chocolates Before Breakfast

We did it again! The musicians and dancers at American Dance & Music Camp just can't get enough waltzing. Each morning, in the dining hall while we wait for breakfast to be served, musicians play and dancers dance to original waltz compositions. Most of these tunes have never been heard before anywhere; indeed, many of them were composed during the week at camp. This year we present our third waltz CD, Chocolates Before Breakfast.

BONUS! This enhanced CD includes the sheet music score for all tunes on the CD as PDF files. Pop the CD into your computer, and print the PDF files to have sheet music for all these beautiful waltzes.

This CD has three purposes: to capture and disseminate several new waltz tunes never recorded before; to provide AmWeek campers with a memory they can share with family and friends; and to help raise money for the camper scholarship fund.

The CD is available for fifteen dollars from many of the musicians on the recording, as well as at most BACDS dances, or online.


If you must send us some spam, please send it here.