NBCDS has been sponsoring contra dances since we became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1993. Read our bylaws here (link opens a PDF). Our first dances were in Sonoma at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club and Santa Rosa at various locations. We moved from Piner Elementary School, to Schaefer Elementary School, Willowside School, and Oak Grove School, finally settling at Monroe Hall in September of 1994. In October of 1995, we added a dance at Hermann Sons Hall in Petaluma called Old Time Barn Dances.
The Sonoma 3rd Friday Contra Dance and the Santa Rosa Country Dance Society joined forces to become NBCDS with non-profit status, due to the efforts of founding board members Jerry Allen, Don Bradley, Stephen Brown, Robin Cohen-Sankin, Emily Flouton, Moira Hill, Patricia Seaton and Sue Wendrow. The first issue of the North Bay Country Dance , was printed Fall 1993. NBCDS joined the national Country Dance and Song Society as an affiliate organization. Regular dances were held in Santa Rosa at Willowside School and Sonoma at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club. A week-long country dance workshop was sponsored for Willowside school students with Barbara Richman (Coole) calling and Janette Duncan playing. The first Gala Benefit Dance was held at the Santa Rosa Dance in December with the Callers’ Jubilee and Jam Band.
The calendar included non-NBCDS dances at Fairfax Community Center, St. Helena (at varying locations) and Ukiah Methodist Church. The Santa Rosa dance moved temporarily to Oak Grove School in July and finally settled at Monroe Hall in September.
The St. Helena dance moved to the Presbyterian Church of St. Helena in January. Started by Jerry Allen and Emily Flouton, Old Time Barn Dances began at Hermann Sons Hall in October, starting earlier to include families.
A Family Barn Dance was held at Sonoma County Folk Festival in March. Another non-NBCDS dance was added to the calendar in April, started by Stuart Moody and held at Druid’s Hall in Novato. The Sebastopol English Country Dance was started by Lydee Scudder and Mark Carroll in August, and held at the Sebastopol Community Center.
In April we put on one of our first big name dances, bringing Wild Asparagus to the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building, with great success. The first San Rafael dance started at the Marin Fellowship of Unitarians in September. The Sebastopol English Country Dance, at one year old, became an official NBCDS dance with its move to Wischemann Hall on Sunday afternoons in October of 1997. The Petaluma Barn Dance went on hiatus indefinitely.
In the spring issue, the North Bay Dancer became Hands Four, as we know it today. Special contra dance with master caller Fred Park from North Carolina was held at Hermann Sons Hall in May. Special dances started at Monroe Hall on fifth Saturdays in October. Apple Tree Morris, started by Kalia Kliban, joined NBCDS in the fall, offering a fall Morris workshop and performing at the December Gala.
A Dance Line was installed, 707-527-9794, with a listing of all current dances. Apple Tree Morris held their first annual “Dance up the Sun” on May 1st. The St. Helena dance moved to the Tucker Farm Center in Calistoga in April. New, non-NBCDS dances started in Philo at the Grange Hall and in Point Arena above Holy Grounds. A special Sonoma dance, held at Vintage House in May with Big Hoedown, was a smashing success with 120 dancers. A special Dusk Dance was held at Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building in October, with Roger Diggle from Wisconsin. Apple Tree Morris performed at the Celtic Festival in September. Our new website was launched at www.nbcds.org.
The Novato dance, re-christened the Marin dance, temporarily moved to Nautilus of Marin, and then settled at Marin Masonic Hall starting in March. Special Contra was held in Marin with band Reckless Abandon from New Hampshire in April. A Summer Contra Mini-Festival was held in July with dance, music, workshops, singing and picking sessions, Morris performance and more. Celebration of 30 years of English Country Dancing in the Bay Area held at Wischemann Hall in October.
Special dance was held in San Rafael in October featuring Hotpoint String Band, from Ohio, with Flashpoint and Swing Farm.
Elizabeth Douglas started the Sebastopol Contra dance at Wischemann Hall in May. Wild Asparagus returned to play at Marin Masonic Hall in June. First Mad Robin Ball was held in June at Hermann Sons Hall in Petaluma. To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, the Hotfoot Festival (featuring Hotpoint from Ohio) was held from August 9th to 11th at the Sebastopol Veterans Memorial Building. The Contra Plus series, featuring the Groovemongers and Becky Hill, was held in October in San Rafael.
Reckless Ramblers from Ohio performed at the San Rafael Dance in January. U.S.A. Scottish fiddle champion Jamie Laval played at Sonoma Dance in February. Second Annual Mad Robin Ball was held at Hermann Sons Hall in May. A waltz workshop preceded the July contra dance in Sebastopol. New Year’s Eve was celebrated at Marin Masonic Hall with Swing Farm and Driving With Fergus.
The Sonoma dance moved to Finnish American Home Association’s Heritage Hall in January. A new non-NBCDS dance started in Caspar in March. Sebastopol Contra Dance second anniversary was celebrated with waltz workshop, Beckett dances, and potluck and evening contra in May. The Mad Robin Ball brought Philippe Callens from Belgium to the Sebastopol Veteran’s Building in June.
Summer Solstice Contra Mini-Fest weekend was held with band Notorious in Santa Rosa and San Rafael in June. New Year’s Eve Contra Gala included two nights of dancing: Hotpoint Stringband in San Rafael on the 30th and Santa Rosa on the 31st.
Faultline Frolic dance weekend was held at Monroe Hall with Notorious and Erik Weber in June. With great sadness at the passing of our oldest dance, the last Sonoma dance was held in October. A new Petaluma Contra Dance series began at Hermann Sons Hall and eventually moved to the Petaluma Woman’s Club. Dances Without Borders, an afternoon of folk dance and evening of contra dance, was held at Marin Masonic Hall in September.
Epicenter contra dance weekend in Mill Valley was held for the first time, envisioned and headed up by Susan Amato. An instant hit, our urban contra dance party weekend has great talent and high energy dancers from all over the USA.