Queer Contra Dance Camp, April 12-14, 2019, Aptos, California

Queer Contra Dance Camp, April 12–14 2019, is a queer-normative dance weekend in the California redwoods with incredible talent and an enthusiastic and friendly community.

San Francisco Bay Queer Contra Dance's eleventh annual camp welcomes dancers of all identities and experience. We use the calling terms larks and ravens, prioritize consent, and have gender-free facilities so that everyone can be included. New dancers will find that contra is an exuberant, social, and easy-to-learn American barn dance with roots in English folk dance. For experienced dancers, dancing as part of a community that prioritizes inclusion and everyone's enjoyment is one of the most magical and exuberant opportunities contra provides. Take a weekend away with us to dance, relax, make friends, and enjoy the lovely California redwoods.

This year's theme is "Nautical Chic" and we encourage those who enjoy dressing up to bring something in theme for our Saturday night dance. Camp includes food and housing and we offer registration on a sliding scale from $110 – $500. We ask attendees to be as generous as they can so that more of our community can join us for a weekend like no other.


Countercurrent is a contra band filled with youthful exuberance, musical brilliance, and a style that brings forth the pure joy and nuance in the music they play. Based outside of Seattle, Alex Sturbaum (guitar, vocals) and Brian Lindsay (fiddle, feet, vocals) have delighted dancers and concert audiences all over the country for almost a decade, incorporating Irish, American, French-Canadian, and pop influences into their high-energy and dynamic music.

Toss the Possum is a family band out of Virginia with a uniquely eclectic style all their own. Mixing Celtic, Appalachian, jazz, French-Canadian, and rock n' roll elements, fiddle prodigy Rob Zisette (fiddle, vocals) and his classically trained mother, Laura Zisette (piano), are known for their elevated playing and inventive inserts. Their nationally renowned music can range from smooth and lyrical to driving and energetic, but is always powerful, spontaneous, and magical.

Alexandra Deis-Lauby is a caller based in New York City who calls local dances and dance weekends across the country. Alexandra uses her calling to foster communities, teach new skills, and create a welcoming environment both at dances and in the New York public school system. Her smooth voice, clear and concise teaching style and engaging dance selections have delighted dancers from coast to coast.

Yoyo Zhou, a contra dance caller from Berkeley and co-organizer for our monthly Circle Left dance, has quickly become a nationaly sensation, gaining acclaim for both his congenial calling and exceptional contra dance compositions. He is beloved for gracefully ushering dancers through interesting and fun choreography, thoughtfully intuiting just the right amount of guidance and structure to ensure the perfect zest or flow for each.

Sound by the wonderful Nick Cuccia.

Dance schedule

Camp starts at 6:00 pm on Friday, April 12 and runs through 3:00 pm on Sunday, April 14. Our talent provides a full weekend of contra dance, with a second track of dance and singing workshops lead by the community during the day. Specifics will be announced as camp approaches, but workshop topics in the past have included waltz, consent conversations, English Country Dance, traditional folk songs, blues dance, playing music for contra, and much more. Sessions targeted to beginning and advanced dancers are also included.


Nestled in a grove of coastal redwoods, Camp Monte Toyon is adjacent to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos, California. The grounds offer hiking trails and a beautiful rhododendron garden. The cost of camp includes dormitories to stay in, five full meals, and a delicious spread of snacks throughout the weekend. Meals are served buffet-style with vegetarian and vegan options. Refrigerator space is available for those on special diets.


Accommodations are shared rooms ranging from 4-10 people or campground space for those who would prefer to bring a tent to sleep in. Rooms are pre-assigned, and campers have the chance to express housing preferences and needs as part of registration. Campers need to bring their own towels and sleeping bags or sheets, blankets, and pillows. Local dancers are asked to bring extra bedding and towels for campers flying in from out of state.


Queer Contra Camp is 79 miles or a 2 hour drive south of San Francisco. Monte Toyon is only accessible by private vehicle, with limited parking on-site. If you can offer a ride or need a ride to/from camp, please let us know on the registration form. We are generally able to get everyone a ride from the Bay Area who needs one. If you are flying in, we recommend Oakland or San Jose airports. Campers flying into San Francisco may need to take public transit to meet their carpool.

Camp photos used above were provided courtesy Chris Chin.

Additional questions? Contact us at queercontra@gmail.com

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