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Beat the heat by moving your feet
2010-11 Contra Dance season beings
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Sautee Contra Dance
When: 8 -11p.m. Saturday
Where: Sautee Nacoochee Cente on Highway 255 North, 1/4 mile off Highway 17
Cost: Adult admission is $8.00, SNCA Members $7.00,
Students $4.00. Children 7 and under are free (when accompanied by a supervising adult).
More info: Contact Walter Daves at 706-754-3254, e-mail
Julianne Wilson at thrivingspirit@me.com, or www.sauteecontra.com.

Do these dog-days of summer find you surrounded by fans in front of an air conditioner and dreaming of Alaskan winters? Area Contra Dancers suggest they have a cure — at least a temporary one: Cool down in the air-conditioned historic gym at the Sautee Nacoochee Center while enjoying the upbeat music of North Carolina’s Bill and Libby Hicks and terrific calling by Rob Harper of Atlanta.

Of course, it is possible that folks may "glow" a bit while on the floor, but dance enthusiast Peter Bull contends that he has "so much fun contra dancing, I don’t even notice getting hot."

The 2010-11 Contra Dance season kicks off this Saturday in Sautee with a great lineup. Directing dancers around the floor with ease will be Harper, whose expertise is widely known and appreciated. Labeled by coordinators and dance regulars as "Joyful Community in Motion," the monthly Sautee dances are all about a warm welcome, great music, terrific people and fun. Contra dancing is an easy-to-learn, relaxed and upbeat blend of folk, square and English country dancing.

In town from their home-base in Chatham, N.C., the Hickses have a long pedigree of performance of old-time and other traditional dance music. Bill was fiddler for the Fuzzy Mountain String Band and a founding member of the Red Clay Ramblers; both groups played a major role in the revival of old-time music during the 1970s.

No experience is needed to have a great time at a contra dance in Sautee, and no partner is necessary — though a partner is always welcome. Newcomers are encouraged to participate in the welcome lesson at 7:30 p.m. During this introduction, the caller explains the basic contra dance steps in detail. As each dance is introduced throughout the evening, dancers walk through the steps several times before they’re put to music.

Dancers at Sautee range from young to "young at heart." Each dance draws a handful of children (who spend some time on the dance floor and some on the playground outside), a growing contingent of high school and college students from around the region and many adults.

Some come to eat, listen and watch, though most come to dance at least a few dances. And then, of course, there are those who start with the first dance and don’t stop till the band is packing up their instruments.

Worried about what to wear? Don’t. Some dress up, and some come in overalls — you’ll fit in whatever you have on, though keep in mind that even with air conditioning, it gets warm while you’re dancing. It is recommended that people dress comfortably and wear shoes that aren’t slippery. Flats or low heels work best — comfort is key.

The night begins with a potluck supper at 6:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome. The Sautee dances are alcohol-free events.

Regional events