Move to the music

Tacoma Contra Dance is a group that holds their lively dance events on the third Saturday of each month at Christ Church Wells Hall. No experience is necessary to learn this form of dance in which a caller leads the dancers. Lessons are generally offered before each dance. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Contra Dance

A new year is here. Have you gotten used to the fit yet? Have you gotten the hang of writing 2018 when you scribble down a date? The arrival of a new year is a good time to try something different and to expand your horizons. Maybe it’s time to meet new faces and move your body in a new way. Have you considered adding some new dance moves (or any dance moves) to your repertoire? Here, in the City of Destiny, we are fortunate to have a wealth of opportunities for learning to dance.

Setting traditional dance forms like ballroom aside for the moment, in Tacoma you can learn and practice all kinds of dance. You can take up anything from Scottish country dancing to forms of traditional Chinese dance. You can learn something exotic like belly dancing. Or you can take up Scandinavian folk dancing. You can slide your feet into a pair of pointy-toed cowboy boots and learn line dance or you can wear your sneakers and introduce yourself to the easy-going world of contra dance.

I’ll address the world of ballroom, tango, swing and other standard dance forms in a follow-up story. Here, however, I want to provide you with a guide to some of the teachers, dance schools, dance halls and places where you can try out dance forms and styles that are a little bit off the beaten path.

Folk Dance:

Chinese Folk Dances

Evergreen Chinese Academy, 5025 N. Pearl St., Tacoma

The Evergreen Chinese Academy, from time to time, offers classes in traditional Chinese dance.

Their dance instruction introduces students to a wide range of Chinese folk dances. The goal is to enhance students’ appreciation of Chinese culture as they immerse themselves in traditional melodies and movements. Classes at three levels are offered: lower-elementary, upper-elementary, junior-high and above. Instructor Rei-mei Zoellner has led Evergreen Chinese Academy dancing teams to perform many times — at the Tacoma Dome, theaters, schools, libraries, and community centers — with wide acclaim.

Korean Drums and Korean Dance

Asia Pacific Cultural Center, 4851 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma

In previous seasons, Korean drumming and dance have been offered at Asia Pacific
Cultural Center. Keep tabs since they are bound to offer more this year.

Filipino Dance

Puget Sound Dance Academy, 7304 Lakewood Dr. W., Ste. 21, Lakewood 

In addition to instruction in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip hop and flamenco, Lakewood’s Puget Sound Dance Academy also offers a course in Filipino dance.

Scottish Country Dance

Studio 6 Ballroom, 2608 6th Ave., Tacoma 

Scottish Country Dancing in Tacoma: “Fun, Fitness, Friendship.” Meets from 4-6 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays of each month at Studio 6 Ballroom. All levels and ages welcome. No partner needed. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. $7/ session.

Scandinavian Folk Dance

Normanna Hall, 1106 S. 15th St. (15th and MLK Way), Tacoma 

Sons of Norway has hosted regular sessions in Scandinavian folk dance recently. Stay tuned to see if they continue the tradition in the coming year. $10 adults, $7 Sons of Norway members ($10 couples), $5 non-dancers, students free. Bring your dance partner and friends for a good time. Non-dancers and non-partnered people are welcome. Many easy mixers throughout the evening will be taught. Dance Committee contacts: Nancy at or Karen at

Along with Sons of Norway Tacoma, the Tacoma Mountaineers hosts a fourth Saturday dance at Normanna Hall. Teaching starts at 7 p.m. and dancing to live music runs 8 to 10:30 p.m., mostly Scandinavian.

Ecstatic Dance:

Ecstatic Dance Sundays

Jefferson Park, 3920 N. 9th St., Tacoma

Every Sunday from Jan. 21 through March 18 at 10 a.m., join the winter ecstatic dance series, every Sunday at the Jefferson Park building. Come explore the rich inner world of the mind, brain and body, push the edge of your dance, and cultivate mindfulness and joy in yourselves and your community.

The organizer, Adam Dealan-de, invites everyone into ecstatic dance whether brand new or seasoned dancer. Dealan de utilizes a mystic approach blended with scientific understanding to help you explore your authentic self. He holds a dance space that allows you to be cherished, challenged, vulnerable, and real. Come take a chance. Dance is the medicine. Magic is in the dance. Visit for information on this dance form.

Drop In for $12 or get a three-class pass for $24.

Belly Dancing:

Belly Dance Burn

Tacoma Dance Studios, 1127 Broadway, Ste. 204, Tacoma

Want your energy back but hate the gym? Join Tacoma Dance Studios for a fun, body positive workout that will make you sweat. Kat will lead you through basic belly dance movements to energizing music. Bring a towel and water bottle. Saturdays 11 a.m. to noon. Drop-in $14, five-class card $60, 10-class card $120. Register at

Tacoma Belly Dance also offers a “Lunch Time Belly Dance” on Thursdays, 11 a.m. to noon, as well as courses in beginning, intermediate and advanced belly dance for the same prices as those listed above. Visit the website for all the details.

Workshops with Ami Amore’ Jan. 27 and 28

Tacoma Dance Studios, 1127 Broadway, Ste. 204, Tacoma or

Dark Veil: Jan 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m. In this workshop, you will learn to tame the veil, work with it and not against it and a short “Dark Veil” choreography. You will start with a warm up and work your way to some basic drills and then moves with the veil, tips and how to use the veil to accent moves. Finally, you will learn a short choreography to music, that can be modified at your whim. Bring water and a three-yard silk or chiffon veil if you have one. Limited amounts of loaners available.

Releasing Your Inner Gothness: Jan 28, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Ready for something out of the ordinary? Come take a walk on the dark side with Ami Amore’. You will learn some creepy, dark and exquisite moves to add to your dance repertoire, revealing the inner prowess and gothess that resides in every dancer. We will then put them all together into some short combinations that can be strung together or mixed and matched. Knowledge of belly dance basics recommended. Black lipstick optional!

Pole Dance Lessons 

Bella Pole and Dance, 16007 56th Ave. Ct. E., Puyallup 

For something slightly more exotic, pole dance lessons are offered at Bella Pole and Dance in Puyallup. Get ready to set your soul on fire and wake up. This class is designed for beginner level students and will focus on spins, transitions, floor work and wall work. The class starts off with a feel good stretchy and sensual warm up and then goes into learning spins, transitions and an exploration of different elements of movement each week. Each student will advance at their own pace and with each class you will build strength, flexibility and confidence.

Country Dance:

Line Dance Lessons

Steel Creek, 1114 Broadway, Tacoma 

Learn to line dance at Steel Creek. Line dance lessons start every Thursday at 8 p.m. and are open to all ages. $5 fee includes lesson and first domestic draft or well drink for 21+. No partner required. Open to all ages.

Country Line Dance 

Asia Pacific Cultural Center, 4851 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma 

The Asia Pacific Cultural Center has offered line dance lessons in the past. Those were on Saturdays, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Cost: $6 per session. Check in to see if they are planning to continue.

Square Dance:

Beginner Square Dance Lessons

Collins Grange #893, 3404 120th St. E., Tacoma

Come on out and give square dancing a try. Cost: $3 for kids, $4 for adults per lesson. No experience necessary. All ages welcome. Feel free to bring friends. For more information, call Mark Sebree at (253) 472-9092 or e-mail

You do not have to join a square dance club to take lessons. Lesson are inexpensive (in fact, the first lesson is always free.) Several convenient locations and different days of the week to choose from whenever lessons start up. There are typically two times during the year when lessons start up: Jan./Feb. and Sept./Oct. For more, visit

Contra Dance:

Tacoma Contra Dance

Christ Church Wells Hall, 310 N. K St., Tacoma

Tacoma Contra Dance has a great hall, high-spirited dancers, marvelous bands and entertaining callers. Above all, they have fun with live and exciting traditional music, with modern touches for singles, couples and families. There is no need to bring a partner. No experience needed. All dances are taught on the spot. There are workshops for newcomers before most dances. Dances are alcohol-free, smoke-free and fragrance-free.

Tacoma Contra Dance events are year-round usually on the “third Saturday” of the month but sometimes they dance instead on a Sunday afternoon. For the specific schedule, be sure to check the Dance Calendar page on their website.

Admission is $10, or $8 for students and seniors (65+), or $5 for dancers under age 18 and over 80. If you bring a family, please ask about a family rate.

Contra dance

Contra dance is a folk dance made up of long lines of couples. It has mixed origins from English country dance, Scottish and French dance styles in the 17th century. Sometimes described as New England folk dance or Appalachian folk dance, contra dances can be found around the world and have much popularity in North America and the United Kingdom, where weekly or monthly dances and annual dance weekends are common.

Contra dancing is a social dance that one can attend without a partner. The dancers form couples, and the couples form sets of two couples in long lines starting from the stage and going down the length of the dance hall. Throughout the course of a dance, couples progress up and down these lines, dancing with each other couple in the line. The dance is led by a caller who teaches the sequence of figures in the dance before the music starts. Callers describe the series of steps called “figures,” and in a single dance, a caller may include anywhere from six to 12 figures which are repeated as couples progress up and down the lines.

The music played for contra dances includes Irish, Scottish, old-time and French-Canadian folk tunes. The fiddle is considered the core instrument, though other stringed instruments like the guitar, banjo, bass and mandolin, as well as the piano, accordion, flute, clarinet are used. Music in a dance can consist of a single tune or a medley of tunes, and key changes during the course of a dance are common. (from

Subscribe to our newsletter

To stay updated with all the latest news, and offers.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.