I was really jonesing for a contra dance weekend and jumped at the chance to attend Bear Hug Contra in mid-September on Flathead Lake, Montana. About a 6 hour drive from Yellowstone and 90 minutes from Glacier National Park, I figured I could make a long weekend out of it and see Glacier while I was in the area. Friends told me how beautiful the Flathead Lake area was, but when I spied it from the highway to the south, I exclaimed out loud “Oh wow.” Even though nobody else was in the car.
Held at an Episcopal Church Camp, all the cabins bordered the lake. Above is the view from my porch in the “Ladies Only” cabin. First to arrive, I claimed the one double bed in its own room. Next door was a room with 4 bunk beds and upstairs were several single beds in one long room. My cabin mates brought S’mores and lit a fire in the woodstove to keep the cold night air at bay. So delicious to eat toasted marshmallows and smell smoke while warming up inside and out.
The dance is sponsored by the Missoula Folklore Society and held every year. While I didn’t get a photograph of the dance itself, below is a photo of dinner followed by announcements before the room was transformed into an Under the Sea theme. We signed up for chores upon arrival and I helped clean up after lunch one day. The only issue I have with this dance weekend is that my feet stuck to the linoleum floor, despite wearing my felt-soled dance shoes, and I twisted my knee. This eliminated all but a few hours of dancing for this veteran, so I explored nearby thrift shops on Saturday and left after breakfast on Sunday morning. Bummer – I won’t be able to dance here again.
The callers were very good, young Michael Karcher and Roger Diggle. The Stringrays appeared to be the headline band, a seasoned group of jazzy contra musicians. However, I really enjoyed the two young members of Celtic influenced Countercurrent. A concert was held in the chapel overlooking Flathead Lake, and Alex and Brian of Countercurrent played many tunes they had composed themselves. The acoustics in the chapel were heavenly.
For me, the outdoor setting was the best part of the dance weekend. I walked the labyrinth one evening before the concert, asking a silent question before starting the maze and getting my answer before departing.
While the linoleum floor here is not conducive to my body, there are other contra dance opportunities throughout Montana. In May I attended a dance in Bozeman with a friend and had a great time. There is also a new dance starting up in Billings. Click here to access the Facebook page for all Montana contra dances.