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Annual Christmas contra dance adds a sparkle to the season
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Sometimes, in the midst of a hectic holiday season, it's helpful to put on some great music and just dance around in circles. Let loose, get the tension out and open up the heart this weekend.

On Saturday a whole community of folks in Northeast Georgia is getting together to let loose in just this way at the annual Sautee Community Christmas Contra Dance.

The historic Sautee Nacoochee Center for the Arts gym will be full of folks dancing to the lively music from the band Meat and Three. Using various combinations of simple steps directed by Susan Davis, one of the valley's favorite callers, the dance will invite warmth and friendship to the holiday season.

No partner is needed, and no experience is necessary to have a wonderful time. Each dance is made up of simple, easy-to-do steps and is walked through several times without music so that everyone feels comfortable once the music starts. And all for less than it would cost to go to a movie.

As in years past, organizers of the nonprofit community dance expect to see elves and reindeer, as well as various incarnations of Santa.

The "Most Festively Attired" folks will be recognized during the evening - a great opportunity to let your imagination play.

As always, however, the "come as you are" welcome mat will be out, with encouragement to dress in layers. Even though it's cold outside, once the dancing begins, folks are likely to get rather warm inside the gym. Wearing flat or low-heeled, soft-soled shoes can make contra dancing easier.

Comfort is key, and everyone is welcome - including those who would prefer watching and listening to the great music. The 100-175 person attendance at the Sautee dances regularly includes families and a good portion of college and high school students, with the majority of the dancers being adults from their mid-twenties to mid-70's. Watching all of these folks dance joyfully together is magical - being part of it is fun and uplifting.

The evening's festivities on the will begin with a 6:30 p.m. potluck and guests are encouraged to bring a dish to share. A lesson for newcomers will follow the food. The main dance runs from 8-11 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for SNCA members and $4 for students. Children ages 7 and younger are admitted free with a supervising adult.

The Historic Gym of the Sautee Nacoochee Center is located at 283 Hwy 255 N., north of Sautee Junction where Ga. 17 and 255 N. intersect. For directions call 706-878-3300. For more information about the dances call 706-754-3254 or check out the Sautee Contra Dance website at

From a warm welcome at the door to swirls of smiles on the dance floor, you're sure to have a great night.