A Winter Weekend in Woodstock


What a wonderful weekend spent with my contradance community in Woodstock, Connecticut. This was the 2nd Winter Weekend Retreat of the Lavender Country Folk Dancers (LCFD). Three nights and three days of smoozing, dancing, game-playing, eating, relaxing, and bonding. About thirty men and women descended upon the Senexet House, a retreat center that started out in 1886 as an inn. Although it has seen better days, it is still full of charm. The event organizer, Chris, certainly went out of his way to set the mood: twinkling Christmas lights greeted you on the stair case up to the house; candlelight and vintage lights bulbs wherever possible. Everyone had chores to make the work go faster and lightly, adding to the communal spirit. Healthy meals – with vegan options for those that go in for that sort of thing.

Unlike the Dance Camps which can seem rushed in trying to fill every moment and sticking to the programmed schedule, this weekend had a slower pace and was modified slightly to meet the wants of the participants. There were workshops for people interested in learning to call and play tunes, or improve those skills. I attended the musician workshop, bringing by newly acquired autoharp. I learned the basic sequence of songs (A1-A2-B1-B2-repeat-repeat-repeat) and the importance of matching a tune to the dance (jig, reel, march, rag, etc). It was very interesting and is very different from the classical music world that I mostly reside in. It’s good to broaden horizons.

The callers got a lot of good feedback from the pros as well as their peers, and the dancers. There was a lot of great energy, and I really felt part of the community. I gave my idol her ‘most magical moment of the weekend’ by confessing my nine-year crush on her. She called the very first dance I attended back in 2004. She has a very gentle style, is a brilliant caller, and is savvy to know when to come on the floor to explain a move. I told her that because I had such a great time that first dance, I came back for more, and I felt for the first time that I could really dance. I also shared the story of learning about my grandmother’s life as a harmonic player in a band that would play for square dances (or parlor dances) back on the farm. I learned about all this after she had passed away. My family gets aces for keeping back information. Many hugs inserted during this confessional. Thank you, Linda!

Other memorable moments:

  • relearning Money Musk
  • chatting with Paula who is a local resident about my family roots in Woodstock, and learning that there still Perrins in the area
  • watching the antics of the Levi Jackson Rag
  • saving the world from a Pandemic with Laura and Eric
  • getting a blister on my thumb from autoharp playing
  • pajama party!
  • messing up the work duties because I had my days wrong
  • passing the orange (you had to be there)

I hope this keeps going and becomes an annual LCFD event. Although Senexet House only holds 30 people, it would be great to have maximum capacity, which would fill the dance floor.

Before arriving at the House on Friday, I stopped over at Woodstock Hill Cemetery to (re)-take pictures of ancestral tombstones. The pictures I took in April were lost in the Great Data Loss of 2012. Then on Monday, I attempted to go to the other cemetery in Pomfret to take pictures of those headstones, but I just couldn’t find it. I ended up discovering a different cemetery (Bugbee) that had several Perrins as residents, although it looked like the cemetery is not active anymore. On the way there, I found Perrin Street, which probably runs up Perrin Hill which I discovered on a map within ‘The History of Woodstock, Connecticut.”

Another bonus : I drove a brand new car this weekend. Electric starter (no key or fob) and it only had 344 miles when I returned it . I think they were all mine!



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