Houston Area Traditional Dance Society

Contra Dan's Band

Contra Dan's is the name of the Houston community band that is open to anyone who would like to play for the contra dances. Credit goes to Mike Head for starting the original Contra Dan's, coming up with the name, and supplying some of the music that we use. The current incarnation of Contra Dan's is organized and led by John Bloom and Keith Holmes.

Contra Dan's at West U Community Center
Contra Dan's at the West University Community Center

Although open to everyone regardless of skill, Contra Dan’s is not a “pick up” or “drop in” or “bring your instrument to a dance and jam” band. Contra Dan's rehearses every few weeks and always before a dance that the band is going to play. Members are expected to attend as many rehearsals as possible, and especially the rehearsal just before a dance that we're playing.

We can provide sheet music for all of our tunes at our rehearsals, but we encourage all players to download and print the tunes (or add them to a tablet). See the “Tunes” section below.

All musicians and all instruments are welcome. Even those who don't yet feel confident enough to take the lead or be amplified are encouraged to attend the rehearsals and play at a dance.

Playing for dancers is a lot of fun and has none of the pressure of concert music, so please join us! Email contradans@hatds.org for details and John or Keith will get back to you with specifics.


Two Fiddles. Photo by Lauren SingerBecause there are often several versions of any given tune, we have “official” Contra Dan's versions. See the Contra Dan's Tunes page for the location and additional information about our versions.

Although we supply “dots” for the tunes we use, you may be interested in some of the following tune collections:

Listen to members of Contra Dan's performing “The Rivers of Texas” at the April 2018 San Marcos contra dance. Ashley Orlando is featured on the lead vocal with Elena Wortham and Ed Freiter on harmonies. Thanks to Michelle Lynskey for the recording.