Frequently Asked Questions


What do I wear to a contra/English country dance?

The advice at About.com sums it up: “Probably the most important thing you can wear is a pair of comfortable shoes. Contra dancing can be quite vigorous. You will need to wear shoes with low or no heels and soft smooth soles that allow you to move freely and safely. Rubber soles are most comfortable, but make sure they aren’t too thick…thick, rubber-soled shoes might stick to the floor during turns and twirls, causing potential injuries to knees and ankles.

“Loose, lightweight, comfortable clothes that don’t restrict movement will feel the best. Some dancers enjoy wearing skirts or dresses that twirl when they turn or spin.  Don’t worry too much about your appearance, though…contra dances are meant to be relaxing, stress-free events.”

And for ECD? The same advice applies! Loose, comfortable clothing, including clean shoes that won’t mark the floor. There’s less twirling in ECD than in contra, but some dancers still enjoy wearing skirts that flow with their movement.

Do I need to know how to dance? Do I need a partner?

No, and no. Contra dance is beginner- and family-friendly, and it’s designed to be an activity that you can participate in fully after just a brief introductory workshop (usually about 20 minutes). And although you will have a partner for each dance, it’s traditionally someone different each time, and anyone can ask anyone else to be their partner!

What should I expect at a dance?

Most of our contra dances follow the same basic format: an introductory workshop that lasts for 15-20 minutes, then about an hour and 20 minutes of dancing (which typically includes about five dances). We take a 15-minute break, which usually includes snacks and chatting, and then we do another hour or 70 minutes of dancing (also typically about 5 dances). At the end of each half, there’s often a waltz, and sometimes after the dance we go out for pizza or to someone’s house for an afterparty.

English dances in Oklahoma City are shorter, but still follow a similar format, with about four dances per half.

At any dance, you can expect that experienced dancers will be happy to see you, and will ask you to dance. Dancing with an experienced dancer is the easiest way to learn!

How much do the dances cost to attend?

Although each dance is a little different (check the calendar or the individual venue pages for details), our dances range from $3 to $9 for general admission. Students and children get a discount at almost every dance, and Scissortail members get a discount at some dances.

Wait, what is this I hear about membership?

Scissortail Traditional Dance Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. As such, we have members who support the dance. At the basic level, membership is a deal for everyone: $15 gets you $2 off Oklahoma City and Tulsa contra dances for an entire year! Membership runs from Sept 1 through August 31, and donations above the basic level are tax-deductible. You can download our Membership Form for more details.

I love this! How do I find other dancing?

The most comprehensive single source for finding contra dances in the United States is Charlie Seelig’s Contra Dance Links site. Check to see if there’s dancing wherever you’re going to be!

How to play or call for us?

If you’re a band coming through Oklahoma—or already here!—and are interested in playing for contra or English country dancing, please contact our band booker, Miranda Arana.

If you’re a caller coming through Oklahoma—or already here!—and are interested in calling for contra or English country dancing, please contact our caller booker, Louise Siddons.

How to volunteer?

There are many ways that you can volunteer to help out! Check out our Volunteers page for more information.

Can I email someone with questions? Do you have a mailing list for dance announcements?

See our Contact page for our mailing list and contact form.

What’s your payscale for bands and callers?

At its Oklahoma City dances, Scissortail generally pays local bands $100; out-of-town bands receive a $20 mileage subsidy. Local callers are paid $35; out-of-town callers receive an additional mileage subsidy ranging from $15 (Stillwater, OK) to $100 (Austin, TX). The Board negotiates mileage with out-of-town bands and callers as necessary.