Fiddlefern Country Dance events promote and encourage social dancing within the Owen Sound area


Our House Band

bandphotosqMembers of Scatter the Cats have for almost 30 years been inviting folks across Grey and Bruce Counties to drop everything and dance, and the acoustic quintet likes nothing better than hitting the groove for a big blast of tunes for contra dancers.

Band members have been making traditional dance music together at barns and town and church halls, folk festivals, pubs, parties, plowing matches, weddings and other community celebrations since 1991. The Cats have enjoyed a long association as the house band for dances hosted by Owen Sound's Fiddlefern Country Dancers.

Regional favourites at Summerfolk, Pratie Oaten, the Owen Sound Celtic and Goderich Celtic Roots festivals over the years, Scatter the Cats music is an eclectic mix of traditional and original dance tunes; influenced especially by Irish, Appalachian, and old Canadian dance repertoire.

Fiddler and prolific tune writer, Will Henry, with Dan McGee, flute, tinwhistle, clawhammer banjo and harmonica, Frank Francalanza, mandolin, tenor banjo, and percussion are all former members of the long-lived Grey-Bruce music collective Glenelg Full Moon Country Dance Band.

Bob Robins now adds the pulse on guitars, mandolin, and tenor banjo and Randy Martin holds up the bottom on acoustic and electric bass, and percussion. Both are veterans of a long list of rock, roots, folk and other regional music ensembles.

A long time contra dance enthusiast, Frank Francalanza has a growing reputation as an in-demand, engaging and instructive dance caller throughout and beyond the Grey-Bruce region.

Yo can listen to the Cats here, and contact Frank Francalanza (dancefranc@hotmail.com) or Will Henry (willihenry@gmail.com) for more information.

Performers that have performed at our regular dances:

Performers that have performed at our SPRING FLING dance weekend:

Callers that have performed at our regular dances:

John Krumm

John Krumm

Callers Featured at Spring Fling Dance Weekends:


CDSS Callers:


What is Contra Dancing?
Contra dance is a fun and easy to learn form of social dance.  The caller begins each dance with a “walk through” before the music begins and continues to prompt throughout the repeating figures of the dance.  You and a partner will dance with many other couples as you progress up and down the set.

Is Contra Dancing like Square Dancing?
There are many moves that are common to both these forms of social dance (swings, promenades, do-si-do, allemandes). A square dance set is usually made up of four couples. In contra, the number of couples in al longways set is determined by the length of the hall.

What if I am new to dancing?
We like new dancers and encourage them to join in on the fun. The only way to learn contra is to get up on the floor and dance! Like many contra dance communities, Fiddlefern has a warm-up session just prior to the dance to teach the basic moves and sequences. If you know how to walk, know the difference between left and right, and you can smile, then you can contra dance!

Do I need to bring a partner with me to the dance?
Contra dancing is very social.  If you come with a dance partner that’s great but not necessary.  Dancers are encouraged to find new partners for each dance during the evening. Many come to dance with everyone!

What do I wear? (Clothes, Shoes and Fragrances)
Dress is casual. Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely; light clothing is a good idea, you will warm up quickly.  In order to ensure the wood floor is free from scratches and dints, we ask that you bring soft-soled, indoors shoes, and leave your outdoor footwear at the door. We promote a scent-free environment, so please refrain from wearing fragrances or perfumes.

What music is played?
We are so lucky to have live music provided by local and out of area bands. The music is a lively and eclectic mix of Irish, New England, Appalachian, Breton, Ontario and Quebecois traditional tunes with a good helping of original music inspired by these traditions.

Is contra dancing for all ages?
From 5 to 105, all ages are welcome.

More questions? Check out our links or e-mail us

Be sure to thank your partner at the end of each dance. Experienced dancers are encouraged to ask new dancers. Sharing your experience makes new dancers feel more comfortable, and helps to improve their skills. It helps to make it a better time for everyone.

Maintaining eye contact:
You might find that many contra dancers maintain eye contact with other dancers during the dance. This feels a bit awkward for beginner. However, this helps to avoid feeling dizzy while swinging as well it's a great way to connect with the others.

Being on time:
As the contra dance saying goes, "Better never than late". This is about getting to the next move on time. When everyone is on time, no one is left waiting for others and the dance figures flow better.

Giving weight and carrying your own weight while swinging:
With allemandes, chains, right & left throughs, and balances, it's wonderful to "give weight" while doing these moves. Lean slightly away from your partner and have some resistance or tension in your arms. Avoid squeezing the other dancer's arms or hands, but don't let your arms go limp or fully extended either. To enhance the dance experience for everyone as well as your partner's, carry your own weight during swinging. Try to avoid clamping on too tight to your partner or pulling/pushing down on their shoulders or arms. Not sure about this, just ask someone who appears to be experienced.

Different ways to swing:
Many contra dancers use the ballroom swing. There are other variations in the balance and getting into the swing. Watch some YouTube videos to see these. Better still, ask an experienced dancer about how to do these. Often, these basic version of these moves are demonstrated and tried out in the pre-dance warm-up sessions.

Flourishes, spins and twirls - more experienced moves:
Although contra dancing can easily be done by novices, more experienced dancers often add flourishes and fancy variations to the some dance moves such as twirling the woman different ways during the ladies' chain, spinning twice or more during wavy lines, or during a balance and swing. Don't be alarmed - they're just having fun. It's important that these moves are done without disrupting other dancers.

Why you should give contra dancing a try:

  • It is way too much fun!
  • Many dance communities are welcoming, multi-generational and diverse. Come on your own or with friends.
  • Amazingly good music and calling - fabulous live entertainment!
  • For a nominal admission for live music and calling, it's great entertainment value.
  • There is ALWAYS more to learn no matter what your dance skill level.

These dances are organized by a small committee of volunteers.  We welcome new ideas and help with big and small jobs.  If you would like to become involved, please call: Donna at: 519-376-5001