York Region English Country Dancers

Questions and answers

Q: Do you really mean it when you say that complete beginners are welcome? I have no relevant background.

A: Yes, you are welcome. All you need is a willingness to learn to dance English.

Q: I think I'm too uncoordinated to dance.

A: Few people are as clumsy as the author of this web page, but he's managed to learn to dance; so can you!

Q: If I don't bring a partner but everyone else does, will I have to sit out most of the afternoon because all of the partners will be taken?

A: No! We switch partners every dance. If you arrive with a partner, you ideally shouldn't dance with them more than once until you've danced with everyone else. We're not as strict about this as they are in Scottish Country Dance, but dancing with other partners is necessary for learning. Also, it's a social dance group, so dancing with everyone is what it's all about.
The caller (teacher) can dance too. So if there are an odd number of dancers, he can dance so that everyone gets to dance. (If there are an even number of dancers, the caller just calls.)

Q: If there are more women than men, will this result in people being left out?

A: No. There are indeed two dance roles in most English Country Dances, but anyone can dance either role, and men dance with men just as women dance with women. The two roles are traditionally called "woman" and "man", but we don't even use that terminology here. And actually in ECD the roles aren't all that different; it's not that hard to switch (but anyway you wouldn't have to switch back and forth in the same afternoon).

Q: Will people have a problem if I show up with my same-sex partner?

A: No. Everyone is welcome.

Q: Do I have to wear regency dress? What is the dress code?

A: There is no dress code. People wear their everyday clothes. However, you do want to think about what shoes to wear. It's like going on a two-hour walk; you don't want to wear high-heels, and sandals probably don't work well either because you slide around in them. A number of people wear running shoes (sneakers). One way or another, bring shoes that are flexible and that you are comfortable in. (In wet or snowy weather, you will of course need to change out of your street shoes/boots.)

Q: What is the age range? Am I too young or too old?

A: Dancers need to be able to walk for an extended period of time, and need to be able to follow instructions, so almost all ages can do this. If you found this web page yourself, you're not too young. If you are asking about bringing other people, sometimes people suggest that dancers should be at least ten years old, but you can use your judgement — please just come out and give it a try!

Q: What is the cost?

A: Your first class is free. Then, admission is by donation; please come dance with us whether you pay or not. (As of January 2022, the suggested average donation amount is $5.)

Q: When do the sessions run? That is, when is it ok for me to join the group?

A: It's not organized into sessions. You can join at any time. Please join us as often as you can, whenever you can!

Q: What happens if I miss a class?

A: The classes don't strictly build on each other, so missing a class (or even going away for a few months) isn't a problem. But to make progress, you need to practise — so again, please join us as often as you can, whenever you can!

Q: Could you tell me more about what English Country Dance is like?

A: Please see a video showing clips of an assortment of English Country Dances.
All dances are taught, and prompted as needed while dancing. If people have trouble with the dance, we stop and re-teach as needed. Dancing is more fun when you do it well, and that's what we're here to do.

Q: Are there COVID-19 rules?

A: The COVID-19 rules have largely been relaxed. Still, please do not attend if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, or have received a positive COVID-19 test or been identified as a contact of someone who has (unless you test negative more than 48 hours after the contact).
During the higher virus-transmission season (aka "flu season") (December through February inclusive), we are recommending but not requiring masks while dancing — ideally masks which are better than cloth masks. (But there's no point wearing a mask unless it covers both your nose and mouth.)

Q: I still don't know whether this is for me. OR: I have other questions.

(You can also just come try it out and see! And questions can be asked during the class — that's what we're there for.)