Incorporated on September 14, 1990, the Houston Area Traditional Dance Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to organizing and promoting contra and English Country dance in the Houston, Texas metroplex.
HATDS sponsors regular contra and English Country dances throughout the year, a dance weekend in February that features nationally-acclaimed talent, and occasionally other special events. All dances are open to the public and are family-friendly, smoke-free, and alcohol-free.
HATDS sponsors an open band that allows anyone who plays an instrument to learn how to play for contra dancers. We also sponsor workshops for current and would-be callers and organizers.
HATDS is a community of dancers, dance organizers, callers, and musicians. When you come to a dance, you are welcomed into that community. We charge an admission price so that we can pay the hall rent and give a token amount to the musicians and callers who make our dances possible; otherwise the dances would be free.
As with other contra dance groups, HATDS is an organization of volunteers. There are many jobs, both large and small, that need to be done in order for HATDS to function, and we can always use a few more helping hands. If you've enjoyed dancing with us, please consider helping out however you can. See our Volunteer page, talk to a board member at a dance, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HATDS is a membership organization. Members receive a discount at regular dances and at Bayou Bedlam. Members also have voting privileges and may serve on our board of directors. Go to the membership page to read more about joining HATDS.
Finally, HATDS is an affiliate member of the Country Dance and Song Society and Texas International Folk Dancers, two organizations with similar missions but with a wider scope.
In accordance with state law, HATDS holds an annual meeting of the membership where short “state of the corporation” reports are given and a new board of directors is elected. This meeting usually occurs in May.
Contra dancing was first brought to Houston in the 1970s by Dorcas Hand and Barry Cooper. Dances were held in whatever space they could find, including driveways!
The dance series that eventually became HATDS was started by Mike Head in 1986 at the Heights Woman's Club building on Harvard Street. Barry Cooper's band, Resurrection Avenue String Band, played for the early dances and Mike, Keith Holmes, and Liz Benjamin shared the calling duties.
It wasn't long before the series outgrew the small Woman's Club building and moved to a larger venue. About the same time Mike turned over the many producer's chores to a group of eager volunteers. That group, known simply as “The Committee”, eventually decided that incorporation and non-profit status had some real advantages and began the process that led to the founding of HATDS in 1990.