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An old tradition attracts new generations of dancers

It's an old form of folk dancing, but with new twists, and contra is attracting a lot of young fans to the dance floor.

PORTLAND, Maine — It's not often something that was started two centuries ago is still in style; but every Thursday night, a crowd gathers at the State Street Church for a thing called contra dance.

"There's only been one night where we had fewer than 50 people," said Dugan Taylor Murphy about the Portland Intown Contra Dance he started just a few years ago. The dance begins at 7 PM nearly every Thursday night.

"Over the course of a contra dance event, you end up dancing with everyone in the room," said Murphy. "You want to come to a contra dance? Bring a change of T-shirt so you can change during the break. You might get a little sweaty."

A caller first walks the group through each step, giving the dancers some preparation for what's to come. When the music picks up, dancers are passed from one to another.

"I've known people with very serious physical disabilities, limbs and other sorts of things, that keep them from functioning at a high-level with their bodies," said Dugan's wife, Dela. "During a contra dance they can do it because it's this collaborative thing where people are helping each other out; so by relying on the other dancers around them, they can make it through the choreography and enjoy themselves just like anybody else."

To find a contra dance near you, click here.