Three contradance highlights

All of them regard waltzing, rather than the facing lines that give New England contradances their name.

I should mention that there’s something special about waltzes, which usually come just before the break after the first hour or so and definitely at the conclusion of the evening. In fact, one girlfriend would always grill me about my waltz partners on those nights she decided instead to stay home.

The first memory here involves a dance at the town hall in Bowdoinham, Maine, always special in my experience, especially those when the band centered on three families of musicians.

At the break, as I was conversing with a lovely potential dance partner, I noticed that a young fiddler, maybe six years old, was still on stage and teaching an even younger fiddler some music. It was enough for me to say, “Hey, it’s a waltz, let’s dance,” and we did, soon joined by others. I looked up and saw the amazement in her eyes. You know – If we play, they will dance – as an epiphany.


Years later, elsewhere, I was telling that story to a fantastic young dancer as we waltzed.

Her eyes lit up.

“So you’re the one!”


And then, at a Bob McQuillan retrospective honoring the rerelease on CD of an earlier LP, the partner I had for the waltz was named Amelia.

Coincidentally, the same as my step-grandmother, fondly recalled.

And the waltz was titled “Amelia’s Waltz,” composed by Bob for the daughter of a beloved band member.

The same one, it turned out, circling with me and ever so light on her feet.


I’m getting teary as I relate all this, but there you have it.

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