Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

A Toast to the Contra Community January 25, 2011

It doesn’t feel like winter in Sonoma County right now, with glorious 60-degree sunny weather and the hyacinth buds shyly considering peeping out. But as we know the wet is only on pause temporarily, the warmth feels even more sweet.

In winter, even a warmish one, pleasures grow smaller. We sit by the hearth (or far-lesser equivalent, the DVD player) and take in stories, go for walks, clean our homes of old cobwebs, and eat delicious fattening things – an ancient strategy to ensure our survival through the cold dark times of little food.

There are still mushrooms to be had. The other day I enjoyed a breakfast of wildcrafted Elfin Saddles scrambled up in butter with garlic, green onions, eggs and misc herbs, o yum. I found them along the irrigation ditch near my cottage. They’re black and gnarly and easily hidden in the dried grasses, so you’ve got to use sharp eyes to spot them.

And we gather together to dance. I especially love contradancing, both to dance it and to call the dances. I love the tunes too, and someday will get past the mediocre stage of playing musical instruments enough to play for dances. For now, though, it’s all about the feet and the voice and the deep connection to others through shared joy.


Here’s a toast written specially for the contra dance community, delivered at midnight on New Years Eve 2010.  The North Bay Country Dance Society asked me to give it. You likely didn’t, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.


A NYE Toast to the Contra Community

by Tina Fields


Gather together – the time is nigh,

The old year it comes to an end.

And we have could certainly done much worse

Than to spend it here, dancing with friends.


The skirts they flew; the notes danced too

As the fiddlers raised a tune –

It’s the dark of the year, but as luck’s with us here,

Our spirits feel bright as in June.


As we think on our lives, and all we’ve survived

We may notice some new aches and pains.

Seems with every year passing there’s some treasure lost,

But the joy that sustains us remains.


So let’s toast to the dance and this circle of joy

And the company gathered here – wow!

Raise your glass high; bid the old year goodbye

And the New Year, come in: Welcome Now!


(Everyone: Welcome Now!)


Bright blessings to you in the coming year. May it bring you wonderful food, friends, and fun.

And may you continue to receive such good wishes, even long after the official giving-new-years-blessings time is past.


11 Responses to “A Toast to the Contra Community”

  1. Lawrence B. McBride (facebook link) Says:

    Tina, I still ponder your paper about Contra from the Asilomar conference. One of the all time great papers I have seen.

    • Tina Fields Says:

      Lawrence, thank you!! I gave an updated version (without images) focusing on the trance aspect at AAA in New Orleans as part of an invited panel on Trance. Later in Spring, we’ll submit the papers as a special volume of the SAC journal. And I’ll fatten mine up to include the contra knot work.

  2. Julie James (facebook link) Says:

    Yes. Raising a virtual cup to all my dancing friends!

  3. Joyce Miller (via facebook link) Says:

    Thanks for the spectacular toast at midnight. It was the perfect way to start the year!

  4. Joyce Miller (facebook link) Says:

    Happy birthday, Tina. We miss you around these parts! Have a great 2012, and I will think about you in Palo Alto while I’m at the mic in Sacramento. I keep thinking about that toast you did last year on NYE. It was terrific, and so are you!

  5. Alan Prince Winston (Facebook link) Says:

    1 January 2016: Back from the contra [in Palo Alto, CA]. …Tina Fields might be interested to know that Lynn Ackerson gave her toast, and it was appreciated.

    • Tina Fields Says:

      Thanks for letting me know about the poem, Alan! That makes me happy. So I know of three towns so far in which it was being recited.

  6. Susan Pleck (Facebook link) Says:

    1 January 2016: I read it too! Honored to have done so, and it seemed quite well received.

  7. Michael Barraclough (Facebook link) Says:

    1 January 2016: I also used your toast at the Phoenix NYE Contra. Thankls for sharing it.

  8. BrujaHa Says:

    History: This toast was first delivered at midnight in Santa Rosa, CA, on New Years Eve 2010.
    It’s since been offered by me in Palo Alto CA 2011 or 2012? and Fort Collins, CO, 2016 and 2019.

    Other contradance callers have offered it too. Here are the ones I know about:
    • Susan Pleck – Mill Valley, CA NYE contra 2016
    • Lynn Ackerson – Palo Alto, CA NYE Contra 2016
    • Michael Barraclough – Phoenix, AZ NYE Contra 2016
    • Cheryl Joyal, – Kingston OK, Fiddler’s Dream Weekend 2016
    • Donna Hunt – East Hanover, NJ, Swingin’ Tern NYE Contra night 2019

    If you’ve offered it (or seen it offered), please add your name and location here in the comments. Thank you.

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