Reflecting on 2017.

2018 has big shoes to fill.

Wowee has it been a brilliant year of dancing, friendships, and growth! With your support and the help of many volunteers, 2017 saw:

  • 60 dances hosted this year, even spreading the joy of contra in our city for free through our Friends of Congress Square Park summer series and the Pride parade
  • New callers and a new sound technician trained and booked for evenings - and continued support of several emerging musicians and bands as they played our venue
  • The artistic lives of 92 musicians and 28 callers supported
  • The inaugural PIC'd Up Orchestra Open Band evening, which was a roaring success
  • Experimentation with Advanced Contra dances to offer dance diversity and advanced skills
  • A strengthened dance community and a tighter network in our broader community - bringing joy and a sense of belonging to many
  • More dance managers trained (the folks who ensure each evening goes swell!)
  • A new sound system, which has enabled us to both be more sustainable and support other series
  • Support to the State Street Church, as they make much needed building repairs
  • And more...
The PIC'd Up Orchestra, our open band

The PIC'd Up Orchestra, our open band


As 2018 rings the doorbell, we plan to open the door to be:

  • Training even more callers, sound techs, and musicians
  • Hosting more Open Band evenings
  • Hosting a delightful 9-hour dance called The Portland Triple-Decker!
  • Increasing minimum payments for performers, which makes us more sustainable as a series and allows us to contribute to the lives of artists even more
  • Adding more volunteers to share the fulfillment of bringing a dance series to life, and pass on important community building skills
  • Supporting a leadership conference hosted right here in Portland for dance organizers from across the country, so we can all learn from one another and add zest to many, many series
  • Beginning preparations for a dance weekend!

We are grateful, grateful, grateful for YOU and all the ways you've made PICD happen - by dancing, by inviting friends and spreading the word, by volunteering, by being a leader in our community, by donating... YOU are PICD.

May you stay merry,
May you share joy,
May you give and receive charity,
and may you have endless nights of dance and song.

Happy New Year. We wish a bright and beautiful new year to you and yours!

Calling 101 Registration Opens

Registration is now open for Calling 101 on Saturday, December 2!  This class, taught by Dugan Murphy, is designed for experienced contra dancers with absolutely no experience calling contra dances.  

Whether you want to call dances yourself or just get a more rounded understanding of the contra dance experience, this class may be for you.

Click here to read more and to register.  Class size is limited to 9 participants, so register soon!

Calling students practicing with each other at the December, 2016 class

Calling students practicing with each other at the December, 2016 class

New PICD Open Band - YOU’RE invited!


Have you ever wondered how it feels to make that toe-tapping hollering music you hear every Thursday night? Here’s your chance to get involved.


Open Band - December 14th 2017

Piano - Neil Pearlman

Fiddle - Clara Stickney

Fearless Leader - Emily Troll

Other Instruments - YOU!


In an open band, everyone is welcome!


The goal is simply to have fun playing together for dancers. If you’ve been playing fiddle for two days, come and saw away on your D string. If you’re a more experienced player, come share your music with the community. A good time is guaranteed for all. 

A great open band has a diverse array of instruments. Fearless Leader, Emily Troll, would especially love to recruit some trombone and trumpet players, so please spread the word, even to your friends who don’t dance yet. Think outside the box.

And for those folks wanting a little preparation, we will have a practice party to get ready the week before, time TBA. 

So are you in? If so, please email Emily at for more information. 

Cultivating Callers.

Learning how to call is as easy as 101, 102, 103...

For the last year, Dugan Murphy, contra dance caller, has been working with PICD to cultivate a pool of well trained, enthusiastic callers. More than 35 local folks have taken the Calling 101 class, and so far, the following emerging callers have taken the stage here in Portland:

Jeannine Ameduri
Gretchen Carroll
Sonja Birthisel
Dela Taylor
Krysten Raymond
Gawain Thomas
Annabel Dryden
Nancy Kierstead
Alison Stevens
Shari Shakti
Erin St. Peter
Joel Peck
Elsa Rowe
Nevin Brackett-Rozinsky
Jonathan Freedner

We're really proud of these people for their bravery, enthusiasm, and grit. Some of them are now calling full evenings in venues throughout New England! (Great job, everyone!)

If you're curious about what's been happening here in Portland, or what the class entails, the latest edition of the Country Dance & Song Society's quarterly News publication featured an article Dugan wrote describing Calling 101 in detail (full PDF). You can also check out his website for more resources.

Elsa Rowe practicing at a Calling 101 class.

Elsa Rowe practicing at a Calling 101 class.


What's next? As these folks develop, you'll see them booked for full nights in Portland and, we're sure, in other venues in Maine and beyond. To offer further support, this Fall Dugan is hosting a Calling 102 session for developing callers and he's designing a Calling 103 to be held next year.

The PICD community has been so welcoming and supportive as these individuals learn. Thanks for your rumbling applause and many warm pats on the back!

Happy Anniversary!

PICD is officially a 1-year old!

On June 9, 2017, we got together (many of us in fancy dress!) to celebrate this holy-mackerel of a community that has formed in the last year. So, what were we celebrating? The loving, generous people who make up this community. And, some of our major accomplishments from our first year as a series:


And who do we have to thank for so much of this goodness that's been growing?


Soooo many people contributed to creating PICD in the last year that we almost ran out of space to write names! If you've given your time, talent, energy, space, resources, joy, verve, or your everything to PICD, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We have great memories from the evening of revelry. Here are a few highlights:


As for *next* year, PICD is looking forward to bringing to life some community desires, including beginning to plan a dance weekend (yes! you heard that right!), as well as offering more monthly opportunities to dance creatively by learning style tips, flourishes, and advanced choreography. We'll keep cultivating new and emerging callers, and we might even kick off opportunities to host open band nights.

If you have ideas about what would make our second year great, or if you want to volunteer, get in touch with Dela at

Party in the Park.

Free dances for regulars and walk-bys.

Maybe it's time to plan a dinner downtown with that friend you'd been bugging to try contra... on a third Wednesday some month this Summer... planning to walk past Congress Square Park... at a particular time...

(You're so sly!)

Thanks to a super collaboration with Friends of Congress Square Park, PICD will be offering free outdoor dances third Wednesdays June through September 2017! All dancing will be from 6 til 8 PM in Congress Square Park, located on the corners of Congress and High Streets downtown.



Our first show will be part of Make Music Portland, an annual celebration of sound that takes place on the first day of Summer every year in our city and cities around the world. Walk around from 10 AM til 8 PM this Wednesday and you'll encounter hundreds of free performances on the streets of the city, raising the music of tons of genres.



We have an awesome lineup of talented folks:

June 21: Make Music Portland! Dugan Murphy calling with Maivish

Dugan Murphy will teach each of this evening's dances; he's known for emanating joy and for teaching with the artful precision of clockwork. He's joined by Maivish, playing tunes from British Isles, Ireland and America with a mix of original compositions. With Jaige Trudel on fiddle, Adam Broome on guitar and Matthew Olwell on flutes, bodhrán, and percussive dance, their performances are infused with lush vocal harmonies, inspired interplay, and captivating spirit.

July 19: Maggie Robinson calling with Greg Boardman & Friends

Maggie Robinson will teach each of this evening's dances in her casual and warm style. She's joined by a trio comprised of Greg Boardman on fiddle, Neil Pearlman on piano and mandolin, and Hadith Bani-Adam on Somali Oud. Surprising influences result in a delightful musical mix of culture, tradition, and innovation.

August 16: Dela Taylor calling with Volution

Dela Taylor will teach each of this evening's dances, bringing her humor, and fresh, light calling style. She'll be joined by Volution, a dynamic band that deftly moves from tunes with energy and zest to those with room and gravitas. Adams Carney is on fiddle and sometimes accordion, Helen Newell is on another fiddle, and Nolan Rogers is on cello, playing both tunes that hold places of honor in the New England folk tradition and tunes inspired by European links.

September 20: Dugan Murphy calling with Glen, Bethany & Dave

Dugan Murphy is back for the final dance. He's joined by a trio comprised of Bethany Waickman on guitar, Dave Langford on fiddle, and Glen Loper on mandolin and tenor banjo. All three musicians are mainstays on the national contra dance circuit, combining in countless foot-stomping, electric collaborations inspired by traditional music from Ireland, England, the Balkans, and New England.


See you in the park!

And we have lift-off!

A sound system is in the works.

On Saturday, March 4, over a hundred dancers navigated the bitter cold to warm the hall of State Street Church. These giving, lively folks came to help raise the final $1,300 needed to fund a sound system for Portland Intown Contra Dance.


Alex Hennings started the evening with a waltz workshop, with music provided by Emily Troll of Anadama, and Jamie Oshima of Barefoot. Dancers both experienced and novice moved their feet to the beat and became familiar with the basics.

Barefoot, the duo of Ed Howe and Jamie Oshima, opened the contra dance with a few waltzes and then, collaborating with Dugan Murphy as caller, created an exceptional evening of dance - an evening that had the buzz of magic.


All of these performers generously volunteered their time and energy to help make this happen. They, with the dancers, were coming together to support a dream. 

And guess what?

They did it.

Right now, Sound of Perfection, Ed Howe's high quality sound business, is working on the system. And PICD's carpenter, Dan Brodhead, is working on housing for the system. We should have it within the next few weeks.

Why does it matter? It means our sound technicians, like Glen Loper, Jamie Oshima, and Ness Smith-Savedoff, won't have to lug equipment in every week. And it means that we won't have to invest in renting a system, which means that more money goes to performers every night.

A tremendous thank you to everyone who had a part in making this happen - by giving, volunteering, and spreading the word.



You're a buncha generous folks!

So, you've been around for the first 6 months of Portland Intown Contra Dance, right? So you know how joyous and excellent this series has become. Not to mention sustainable. And damn hoppin'. ;)

We hosted a fundraiser at the end of 2016 to raise $5,000 to fund a house sound system and fund upcoming 2017 costs. Meeting this goal would mean not only higher-quality, more reliable sound, but also mean that more of the admissions money raised each dance can go directly to the performers, who deserve it and whom we want to keep visiting us again and again.

What were the results?

Well, we learned that you're awfully wonderful, sharing, generous people. You helped us raise $3,040 of our $5,000 goal! Just over 60%. Wahooooo!

After accounting for the cost of fees, thank-you gifts, and other things, we're still short about $1,500 for a sound system. We're working on how we'll raise this money in the coming months, and this might look like special dances or something else. You'll find out soon!

If you're inclined to donate a bit extra to help us make up the gap, please do!


In the coming week, we'll be printing t-shirts, cards, and other thank-yous, Dugan will be writing thank-you dances, and we'll be sending letters so you can do your taxes. ;) If you're expecting a thank-you gift, you'll receive it by the end of January 2017.

We're sooo grateful for everybody who made something neat to offer, who shared the word, and who gave.

THANK YOU to our artists:

Toki Oshima

Pat Corrigan

Autumn Joy Jackson of Untitled Herbs

Dela Taylor


THANK YOU to our donors:

Thomas Nelson
Kristen Planeaux
Jonathan Erde
Matt Shipman
Putnam Smith
Katie McNally
Stephanie Brock
John Cote
Dusty Perin
Lisa Greenleaf
Anita Gale
Charles Radomsky
Jennifer Joaquin
Sonja Birthisel
SK Green
Bethany Waickman
Jennifer Dryden
Chena Immel
Greg Hall
David & Callie Chase
Ron Robillard
Larry Hayden
Marc Galipeau
Catherine Elliott
Pat Cannon
Thomas Prunier
Krysten Raymond
Dianne Chicoine
Beth Schwartz
Marc Kaplan
Stan & Gail Scott
Mako Bates & Thea Youngs
Matthew Smith
Gabrielle Lanza
Marc Kaplan
Emily Troll
Shari Shakti
Joshua Saklad
Ellen Hodgkin
Josh Plourde
Jenna Nelson
Steve Raymond
Abby Golash
Gretta Buckey
Cynthia Mead
Elsa Rowe
David Bauer
Eliza Nichols
Issac Wendland
Paul McKechnie
Jesse Vear
Naomi Marthai
Katie McNally
Katherine Collins

& a few anonymous folks.

We <3 you.