Contra Dance on March 26th

Talent: Erik Hoffman calling to the music of Magic Reelism
Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022
Time: 7:00–10:00 pm, with newcomer’s orientation at 6:30 pm
Location: Coloma Community Center, 4623 T St, Sacramento, CA
Cost: $12 for adults; $8 for college students with ID; $5 for dancers under 18; $25 maximum for families (cash or check)

Local favorite Erik Hoffman brings clear teaching and calling, along with a sense of humor. Magic Reelism plays old-time and Celtic dance music, with David Wright on fiddle and mandolins, Sue Jones on concertina and recorders, Cheryl McKinney on piano, and Del Eckels on percussion.

The SCDS Covid safety policy requires full vaccination, including boosters. Masks must be worn at all times while inside the building. We recommend N95, KN95, or KF94 masks and do not allow masks with exhaust valves (because they don’t protect others) or cloth masks unless they are worn on top of a surgical mask. Please bring your own water and snacks, and plan to step outside to eat or drink. Windows and doors will be open to ensure good ventilation, so please dress accordingly. Most importantly, if you’re not feeling well, stay home and join us next time.

To help everyone enter the dance more quickly, we ask each dancer to email a photo of his or her vaccination card to Laura Leonelli at before the dance. Please also print a copy of our waiver form, sign it, and bring your paper copy to the dance. You will only need to do this once; we will record that you have provided this information, so that it will be valid for future dances.

A newcomer’s orientation is offered at 6:30 pm, perfect for people who have not contra danced before, or who could use some refresher. Experienced dancers are invited to partner with newcomers during the orientation and early dances to help integrate them into the community.

No partners are needed, so come by yourself or with friends or with family. These events are accessible to people with disabilities.

For more information, and lost and found, contact Laura Leonelli, 916-549-7093, or email

English Country Dance on March 20th

In case you missed our recent announcement, we are dancing together again! English Country Dancing resumes on Sunday, March 20, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm, preceded by our usual introductory session at 1:30 pm. Calling by Alisa Dodson, live music by Quite Carried Away.

Polish-American Hall
327 Main St, Roseville 95678

If you are attending the March 20 dance, there are important things you need to know and important things you need to do!

Things to Know

The SCDS wants to assure that we have taken all reasonable steps to provide a safe environment for dancers. This includes minimizing risks of virus transmission. Therefore, for the time being, we are requiring three things of all dancers.

1. Vaccinations for COVID. Each dancer must show proof of being fully up to date on vaccination. That means two shots of Moderna or Pfizer plus one booster shot, or one shot of J&J plus one booster shot.

2. Waiver of liability. Each dancer must sign a waiver of liability, so that they acknowledge their awareness of risks associated with dancing.

3. Masks. For the time being, we will continue to require wearing of masks at all times when in the dance hall. The best masks are the N95 type (N95, KN95, KF94). Surgical masks (such as the ones offered when you enter a medical facility) are acceptable, and can be made additionally effective when worn with a cloth mask on top. As you no doubt know from news sources, since the emergence of the omicron variant, it has been demonstrated that cloth masks are ineffective, so please leave those pretty cloth masks, bandanas, neck gaiters, etc. at home.

4. Refreshments. In addition to these requirements, we’ve established the following standards for refreshments.

* Water bottles: Please bring your own. Since we are requiring masks be worn at all times when in the dance hall, you’ll need to step outside to eat or drink.

* Breaks: We’ll have 2. Hopefully the weather will cooperate such that it will be nice to step outside onto the lawn to remove masks and consume snacks. Bring snacks for yourself; if you wish to bring snacks to share, please bring individually wrapped items.

Things to Do

To facilitate easy entry to the dance, it would be very helpful if each dancer did the following before the dance. (If you cannot, or you forget, that’s OK. It’ll just mean that you’ll need to take time to do these things at the door, before being allowed into the hall.)

1. Proof of vaccinations. Please email a copy of your vaccination information to Laura Leonelli at

You will only need to do this once. We will not keep a copy of your vaccination record, but we will record that you have provided this information so that it will be valid for future dances.

2. Waiver of liability. Please print a copy of the waiver form, sign it, and bring your paper copy to the dance. Again, you will only need to do this once; we will record that you have provided this information so that it will be valid for future dances.

We hope you appreciate these extra efforts to keep everyone healthy, and we are so looking forward to seeing you on March 20th at the Polish Hall in Roseville!

Upcoming Events:
March 26th – contra dance
April 9th – contra dance

Dancing resumes in March!

The SCDS Board and committees have been working intensively over the last couple of weeks to get us back to dancing, safely. It’s looking like we may be there! If the transmission rates continue to fall, if no new fierce variant pops up, and if public health advisories remain as they are now, English country dance will resume on March 20th, with Alisa Dodson calling to the music of Quite Carried Away at the Polish-American Hall in Roseville, and contra on March 26th!

This is part of the process of learning to live with COVID, our newest endemic disease. Since you can’t negotiate with a virus, all the concessions are on our side. We won’t be dancing like we did before. Changes include:

·   Proof of vaccination AND BOOSTER required.  There will be a sign-in checkpoint outside the hall, and once verified, you shouldn’t have to show your card again at future dances. Sorry, natural immunity claims cannot be honored.

·   Masking is required. High-quality masks only; no cloth masks, bandannas, neck-gaiters or other foolishness. The idea is to keep us safe, and we have high-risk people in the community.

·   Windows will be open to maximize changes of air in the hall, so dress accordingly.

·   Bring your own water bottle, please, and step outside to drink from it. Similarly, please don’t eat in the hall. Masks must be worn at all times.

·   If you’re not feeling well, come to the next dance, not this one.

It’s really all common sense and consideration. We can take a little inconvenience to keep dancers, callers, and bands safe. As the threat eases over time, we’ll gradually adapt.

My refrain continues to be, check the calendar at before coming to a dance! In the months ahead, we anticipate having to cancel some dances as conditions change, though I hope to be wrong about that.

Martin Lodahl, Board President
Sacramento Country Dance Society

Whiskey Brothers Concert on December 11

Looking for an opportunity to see your contra dancing friends? Join us in person from 7 to 9 pm on December 11th at Coloma Community Center (4623 T Street in Sacramento) to see the Whiskey Brothers in concert. Doors open at 6:30. Proof of vaccination (card or photo of card, with photo ID), masks, and social distancing will be required, and the hall will be well ventilated. Admission is $12 per person.

From dance halls to a 20+ year regular gig at Berkeley’s famous Albatross Pub, the Whiskey Brothers have a long and storied history of offering up a variety of acoustic music. Up-tempo dance medleys, waltzes, Cajun two-steps, Conjunto polkas, classic country and bluegrass songs and more work their way through the Whiskey Brothers’ performances. The Whiskey Brothers Trio features John MacFarlane (fiddle, accordian), Jeff Ward (mandolin, guitar), and Dave Courchaine (guitar, upright bass).

New Email Newsletter

To improve communications, the SCDS Board voted to launch a periodic newsletter to all the folks on the email list (over 1,000 now) to let everyone in on what isn’t, after all, supposed to be any kind of a secret. This is the first, and probably longest, of those letters.

In May, thinking we saw happy days ahead, we appointed a committee to study the science to determine the conditions under which we could resume dancing. Dancing is not like many of the activities that have resumed; while breathing briskly, we move right through where someone has just been, inhaling air they’ve just exhaled. A very efficient transmission mode for a respiratory virus. Nevertheless, it was then looking like we were on the verge of having a community transmission level where the risk would be at least reasonable for vaccinated dancers, but the Delta variant changed everything. In September, as that new surge began to fade, the community transmission level for Sacramento County was again dropping rapidly, only for it to stop dropping at the end of the month and spend all of October waffling around a level that’s roughly double a reasonable risk factor, while continuing to drop in the Bay Area. 

We moved into a mode where we’d optimistically begin planning dances we’d later have to cancel. At present, all November dances are canceled, but December’s are tentative, as it wouldn’t quite take a miracle to make them possible. The last of these, the New Year’s Eve Contra, is still being planned, though the band understands that cancellation is not unlikely. We watch the transmission rates closely, looking for signs of hope. If a dance has to be canceled, we’d much prefer to give at least two weeks’ notice of it, but in a pinch, it could be much less.

In other news, in recent months we’ve added the subscribers of the English Country Dance email list to this list too, and also the subscribers to the old Yahoo Groups list, to streamline getting the word out as we approach restarting. 

To receive these newsletters and email announcements of SCDS events, sign up at

Update on efforts to restart dancing

We’re not there yet, but we will dance again.

None of us imagined in the early spring of 2020 that our dances would be closed so long, nor that there would be so many difficult questions associated with reopening. As I write this in mid-August of 2021, the Delta variant is dramatically changing the scientific consensus of what constitutes safe behavior around COVID-19. The Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants, not just to the unvaccinated, but to a much larger number of vaccinated people than had been seen with the earlier variants. Outdoor activities had been considered largely safe, but there have been recent superspreader outdoor events that were open only to the vaccinated and the recently tested.

One factor that remains useful is the community transmission rate, which gives an indication of how present the virus is in our area, and how likely it is to walk into one of our dances. Right now it’s very high here, and worse, is on the upward side of a surge, making dancing risky even for the vaccinated. The Board of Directors of the Sacramento Country Dance Society is very closely monitoring developments in the pandemic, while studying the conditions under which we could reopen for vaccinated dancers and the conditions necessary to safely invite all dancers. Please watch this space as the situation develops. We’re hoping to have better news once the current surge passes.

Martin Lodahl
SCDS Board President

Echo Summit will return next year

We’re disappointed to announce that the Sacramento Country Dance Society has decided not to hold Echo Summit Dance Camp this September.  Although we probably could have figured out how to hold camp safely, there were too many constraints and limitations to make the weekend a fun experience. In particular, Camp Sacramento’s Covid-19 guidelines would not allow us to dance inside or to eat together in the dining hall. We expect to return to camp next year and hope to see you there! Thank you for your understanding.

June 13 Concert with Glen Loper and Bethany Waickman

On June 13th at 4 pm Pacific, SCDS will host the final online concert in this series, with Glen Loper and Bethany Waickman of Stomp Rocket. You can join the concert at, starting at 3:45 pm on June 13th.

Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested. To receive email announcements of SCDS events, sign up at

Raised in southern Maine, Glen Loper has played mandolin for over twenty years. He turned his focus to fiddle music after discovering the contra dance scene in college. Since then, he has dedicated as much time as possible to traditional music and dance. Glen has toured with a number of bands to play dances, weddings, and festivals across the country. He also enjoys teaching music from his home in Portland, Maine, where he gives private lessons for mandolin and tenor banjo.

Bethany Waickman is a guitarist based in Portland, Maine. She accompanies some of the country’s finest players, be it at dance halls, pub sessions, or on the concert stage. Bethany grew up playing classical and folk music with her family in northern New York and was drawn to the New England dance scene after discovering the world of festivals and music camps in her teenage years. Bethany is a mainstay in the New England contra dance circuit, playing in countless combinations of the scene’s myriad musicians.

Glen and Bethany play together in the contra dance trio, Stomp Rocket, along with fiddle-masher Dave Langford.

Tip jar: 
Venmo: @Bethany-Waickman-1 
Checks: 49 Brackett St. Apt. 2 Portland, ME 04102

May 9th – The Whoots Concert

On May 9th at 4 pm Pacific time, SCDS will host The Whoots for a live online Mother’s Day concert. Play and dance along with Shira Kammen and Jim Oakden as they present tunes and songs from 11 different countries, played on 10 different instruments, covering 7 different centuries. 

Marking the myriad manifestations of motherhood!

  • It’s a Concert! Songs and tunes from East to West, with appropriate commentary.
  • It’s a Play-Along! Concert selections and music dots (written music) for playing along can be downloaded at Musicians are encouraged to download the file and play along.
  • It’s a Dance! Most of the music will be danceable, mixing in couple dances and danceable surprises.

You can join the concert at, starting at 3:45 pm on May 9th.

After starting college on a music scholarship, Jim Oakden rapidly realized that he wasn’t cut out for six hours a day in a practice room, so he switched to science as a career while doing music for love. He launched on a musical odyssey that led first to early music and baroque, then into the captivating world of traditional and ethnic music and dance (Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Galicia, Klezmer, Greece, Bulgaria, middle East, etc). Jim plays for English country dance and records with Roguery, Persons of Quality, and the Whoots on an absurd variety of instruments from accordion to zurna. Specializing in dance music, he has performed and taught at dance camps throughout the US and organized contra, Breton, and English dance events. In his other life, Jim is a marine biologist, and has inexhaustible stories about research diving adventures at both poles and numerous places in between.

Multi-instrumentalist Shira Kammen has spent much of her life exploring the worlds of early and traditional music of all kinds. A member for many years of the early music Ensembles Alcatraz and Project Ars Nova, she has also worked with Sequentia, Hesperion XX, the Boston Camerata, storyteller/harpist Patrick Ball, singers Azam Ali and Joanna Newsom, the Balkan group Kitka, Anonymous IV, the King’s Noyse, the Newberry and Folger Consorts, The Compass of the Rose, Vajra Voices, Calextone, the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals, the California Revels, and is the founder of Class V Music, an ensemble dedicated to providing music on river rafting trips. In the English country dance world, she plays with Roguery and The Whoots. Shira has played on over 100 CD recordings, and also on a number of movie and television soundtracks, when weird medieval instruments are needed.

Jim and Shira have played a vast diversity of music together for nearly 25 years, in close and far-flung places from the Great Barrier Reef to Iceland, Scotland, and England, along the Colorado, Grand Ronde, John Day, and Green Rivers, and in several National Parks, among them Denali, Yellowstone, Joshua Tree. Perhaps their most epic venue was at Glacier Point in Yosemite, rendering the Death March from Star Wars for a wedding recessional.

Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested. To receive email announcements of SCDS events, sign up at

Tips: (make sure to click on the ‘friends and family’ option, so PayPal doesn’t take a fee!)
or send a check to 5607 Macdonald Ave, El Cerrito CA 94530

Upcoming events:
June 13 – Glen Loper and Bethany Waickman of Stomp Rocket

April 11 Turnip the Beet Concert

Our next online concert will feature Turnip the Beet, at 4 pm Pacific time on Sunday, April 11th.

You can join the concert at, starting at 3:45 pm on April 11th.

Turnip the Beet is a dance band duo from Nashville, Tennessee. Rooted in the traditions of Southern Appalachia and their local contra dances, Kelsey Wells and Jeremy Lekich combine fiddle, banjo, guitar, percussion, and the occasional mbira in an innovative and jubilant musical harvest. Expect to hear an organic mix of eclectic tunes from the American South, Ireland, Cape Breton, Quebec, and Scandinavia, as well as a half-bushel of grooving, homegrown originals.

Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested. To receive email announcements of SCDS events, sign up at


Upcoming concerts:
May 9 – The Whoots