On Saturday April 14th, fiddler Gretchen Priest-May and her Fiddle & Pick Contra-Band will be playing for a free Contra Dance at the Pegram Train Station. During last week’s Pegram Fish Fry, Gretchen was overheard discussing “Dine & Dance at The Depot” with County Commission Chairman John Haines who is preparing a free spaghetti supper at 5:30 at the depot just before Gretchen’s Contra Dance at 7:30.
Contra dance has been alive and well in the Northeastern U.S. since the 1700’s but a recent revival in the Ashville N.C. area has spread the traditional dance across the South. Contra Dance groups have sprung up in Tennessee towns like Maryville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Morristown, Chapel Hill, Sewanee, Nashville, Shelbyville and now Pegram! The term “contra” refers to the opposite-facing lines formed by dance couples. A “caller” gives instructions to dancers who form figures with the couple in the opposite line. The same dance figures are repeated down the line until all couples have danced with each other.
West Nashville Contra caller John Sharlet puts it this way, “Dancers dance in long ways sets, parallel lines, remaining with their partner throughout the dance. With each repetition of the dance they execute a series of figures involving their partner, and another couple, poetically and appropriately referred to as ‘neighbors’.
Upon completion of one repetition of the dance, they take leave of those neighbors, advancing to new ones in their line, to repeat the whole dance one more time.”
“Dine & Dance at the Depot” is Saturday April the 14th in the historic Pegram Train Station. The Spaghetti Super begins at 5:30 and Contra Dancing is scheduled for 7:30. You’re invited to attend either one or both events and there is no charge. The Pegram Community Club will gladly accept donations to its new depot roof fund.