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Dance to live music in Smithtown and Water Mill

Abby Cook, 17, and Graham Connorburford, both from

Abby Cook, 17, and Graham Connorburford, both from Sag Harbor at the Water Mill Community House as it hosts the Long Island Traditional Association Contra Dances on the first Saturday of each month. (Dec. 4, 2010) Credit: Randee Daddona

As the temperatures are rising, the time is right for dance fever. Learn new dance moves this Saturday of the contra dance and swing dance varieties.

Contra dance is a New England style of folk dancing that evolved from European court dances brought to the United States by Puritan settlers. While it has many forms, dance manager Karin Strong described it this way: "An old-fashioned way for communities to come together and dance with new partners all of the time."

Two lines face each other - usually the men are on one side and the women are on the other - and a couple will travel up and down the long lines dancing with their partner and others. A caller teaches the dance first and calls out the moves during the dance to remind everyone of what to do next while music is played.

Though high energy, the dance is family-friendly and lures dancers "from age 6 to 86," Strong says. "There's a lot of twirling and do-si-doing. A lot of the dance moves are the same as square dances."

Saturday marks the last contra dance of the season in Water Mill. (The event commences again in October). This dance features caller Bob Isaacs, of New Jersey, and bluegrass band Barnburners on fiddles, guitar and bass.

So why check it out?

"It's a lot of fun, social, and aerobic and good for you," says Strong.

What also may be good for you is swing dancing.

The upbeat dance of yesteryear takes place first Saturdays in Smithtown. This incarnation features band Lady Luck and the Suicide Kings, bringing the best of jazz, swing and blues to audiences.

The performance ranges from classic tunes like "Take the A Train" to swing-style covers of more modern performers, says Gilles Fouquart, treasurer and instructor at Swing Dance Long Island.

The dance is open to beginners, who can expect to learn one-handed turns and how to dance with a partner, Fouquart says.

"It's fun. It's healthy. It's live entertainment," he says. "There's a connection to the music. You can feel like you're traveling back in time."

Traditional New England Barn Dance
WHEN/WHERE 7:45 - 8 p.m. dance lesson, 8 - 11 p.m. live music and dance Saturday, Water Mill Community House, on Montauk Highway by the traffic light, Water Mill.
COST $14 adult, $7 students, free for kids up to age 16 with an adult
INFO 631-725-3103,

Swing Dance Long Island presents Lady Luck and the Suicide Kings
WHEN/WHERE 7:30 - 8 p.m. dance lesson, 8 - 11 p.m. live music and dance Saturday, Smithtown Historical Society's Brush Barn, 0.2 miles East on Main Street from the intersection of Route 111 and Route 25 (Main Street), Smithtown.
COST $15 (non-members), $13 (students with ID), $10 (members)
INFO 631-476-3707,

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