Do-si-do at Sunday afternoon contra dance at The Palms on Jan. 6

Support Local Journalism


Get ready to do-si-do, swing your partner and promenade at a contra dance at The Palms Playhouse on Sunday, Jan. 6. Hosted by The Palms and the Sacramento Country Dance Society, the event will start with a beginners’ orientation and lesson at 1:30 p.m. followed by dancing from 2 to 5 p.m. Yoyo Zhou will call to the music of Topher Gayle and Caroline McCaskey. Tickets are $12 ($8 with student ID). Contra dance music is lively reels or jigs in the Celtic and bluegrass traditions. Traditional contra dance is a precursor of square dancing, but is unrelated to modern country and western line dancing. Contra dance in America evolved from English country dances and has been enjoyed continuously since the time of the English colonies in America as a true community dance. Lighthearted and social, contra is danced in two lines of couples that dance various patterns or figures with one another. By the end of the overall pattern, each leading couple will have exchanged places with another couple, and the dance repeats until all couples in the lines have danced with one another. The dancers follow the instructions of a caller, who usually teaches each dance first. Once the band strikes up a tune, the caller matches the dancers’ steps to the music. Yoyo Zhou, who will call on Jan. 6, is based in Berkeley and is known nationally for his thoughtful teaching and fun dances. He has been calling dances since 2012, and believes in helping dancers get the most out of each dance. Multi-instrumentalist Topher Gayle and fiddler Caroline McCaskey will provide the music. Gayle has always enjoyed the social aspects of making music, so it’s natural that he’s in a bunch of bands with a bunch of different people playing many styles of music. He’s played contra dances for over fifteen years, touring nationally with The OpporTunists and locally with The Rosin Doctors. In addition to playing guitar, mandolin, Irish tenor banjo, fiddle, bass and percussion, Gayle is a luthier. He teaches at music camps across the western U.S. McCaskey has been playing and teaching fiddle nearly her whole life. Her classical training combines with her extensive contra dance experience to produce her signature fiery, intricate style. McCaskey is also a renowned player of the musical saw, and performed the violin solo from Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” on the saw with the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. A hallmark of contra dancing is that dancers don’t stay matched with one partner, and no partners are needed for Sunday’s dance. Dancers are welcome to arrive solo, with friends or with family. SCDS and Palms events are accessible to people with disabilities. Tickets are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit,,, and]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Article

Jeffrey Foucault brings "Blood Brothers" to The Palms on Saturday, Jan. 5

Next Article

Training opportunities for new docents at the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve

Related Posts