New Words for Dance Roles

Drawing by  Angela DeCarlis

Drawing by Angela DeCarlis

On Thursday, June 14, PICD will celebrate the two-year (two years already!) anniversary of our growing, vibrant dance community with the second open band night.  We are also taking the opportunity to switch the role terms we use from "jets" and "rubies" to "larks" and "ravens."  Larks (replacing jets) start the dance on the left of their partner; ravens (replacing rubies) start on the right.

What's up with these new terms, you ask?

  • Larks = Left and Ravens = Right makes a lot of sense, especially if you're learning.

  • A lot of people say that "jets" and "rubies" have masculine and feminine connotations that incorrectly imply that the two roles are attached to gender. "Larks" and "ravens" have less connection to gender.

  • Over the last two years, pretty much all the contra dance communities around the country that use gender-free roles have switched to using these words, so now we're aligned with them.

  • Because we're aligning with all these other dances, it will be easier for callers who travel to other dance communities. (There's a lot of mechanical stuff for callers that goes into choosing role terms. These factors are summarized well in this graphic analysis by Ron Blechner from Massachusetts, if you're curious.)

Anyway, it's just dancing.  See you soon!

Happy Dancers Dance Outside

Free dances for regulars and walk-ups.

Contra Dancing in Congress Square Park 2017

Have you ever walked down the street and wondered what it would be like to share the joy of contra dancing with the folks walking next to you?  When we dance outside downtown, people stop and notice.  Then we ask them to dance! 

Thanks to a collaboration with Friends of Congress Square Park, PICD will be offering free outdoor dances on third Wednesdays June through September 2018! All dancing will be from 6 'til 8 PM in Congress Square Park, located on the corner of Congress and High Streets downtown.



We have an awesome lineup of talented folks:

June 20: Darlene Underwood calling with Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus (Deborah Colón, Karl Colón, and Bobby Douglas) from Ohio will be performing, joined by caller Darlene Underwood, also from Ohio. They'll also be performing for us for our regular Thursday-night contra dance on June 21.

July 18: Dugan Murphy calling with The Riff Raff

Local favorite, Dugan Murphy, will be calling with music by The Riff Raff.  They are Jesse Ball (accordion), Everest Witman (guitar), Matt Kenney (drums), and Clara Stickney (fiddle). Here they are (with Julie Metcalf on fiddle) caught on video being awesome.

August 15: Dugan Murphy calling with Maivish

Dugan Murphy is calling again, this time with Maivish, playing tunes from the British Isles, Ireland and America with a mix of original compositions. With Jaige Trudel on fiddle and Adam Broome on guitar, their performances are infused with lush vocal harmonies, inspired interplay, and captivating spirit.

September 19: Shari Shakti calling with Emily, Glen, and Julie

Rising star, Shari Shakti, recently exploded onto the Maine-New Hampshire calling circuit and is quick becoming a regional standard on the mic. She is joined by Julie Vallimont from Boston (piano, accordion) and local favorites Emily Troll (fiddle, accordion), and Glen Loper (mandolin, banjo, percussion).

See you in the park!


9-Hour Fundraiser Dance Extravaganza in May

We the organizers of Portland Intown Contra Dance have been doing a great job paying the bills and performers and raising money for needed costs when they arise (remember raising over $4,000 to purchase a sound system or when we raised $200 for an extra air circulator?), but that always leaves us with little money in the bank for a rainy day.  Nobody would want our dance to go away just because of a few slow evenings, right? 

Of course not.

Announcing The Portland Triple-Decker!

Let's get some money in the bank so we can run this ship with confidence!  It will start with a 30-minute waltz lesson by master Alex Hennings, then 9 hours of contra dancing with 3 bands and three callers.  We've got:

Calluna (Jesse Ball, Eileen O'Grady, and Gus Cantieni) from Western Massachusetts
Orono Contraband (Anthony Viselli, Ryu Mitsuhashi, Sam Furth, and Paul Riechmann) from Maine
Joy Compass (Jamie Oshima and Clara Stickney) from Maine


Dave Eisenstadter from Western Massachusetts
Quena Crain from New York City
Angela DeCarlis from Boston

Oh, and since it is a fundraiser, we figure we should have a 50/50 raffle.  How about that!

Bring a few extra bucks to play the 50/50 raffle!

Bring a few extra bucks to play the 50/50 raffle!


See the event page for more details, invite your friends on Facebook, and download the flyer to share the news!

Dinner to Support PICD

Have dinner with us!

We had a such a good experience hosting a fundraiser dinner at B.Good back in November of 2017 that we decided to have another in April of 2018.  We will be gathering at downtown Portland's B.Good restaurant on Exchange Street in the Old Port the evening of Wednesday, April 25, 2018 and enjoy some good food while raising money for PICD! A portion of all proceeds from food, beverage, and beer sold that evening will go to our dance, for orders between the hours of 6 and 9PM.

See you there!


The Pic'd Up Orchestra Has Room For You

Fearless Leader, Emily Troll, conducting The Pic'd Up Orchestra 12/14/17

Fearless Leader, Emily Troll, conducting The Pic'd Up Orchestra 12/14/17


Did you see the open band play on December 14, 2017 and think that maybe you'd want to try playing along next time?  Have you otherwise 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 - June 14, 2018

Guitar - John Cote

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. 


PICD Prepares for Pride


Portland Intown Contra Dance is hosting a series of craft parties to prepare a float for the Pride Parade in Portland in June 2018.  We will have the supplies - just bring yourself and a snack!

Check the PICD event calendar for craft dates and locations.  We also share updates about craft nights in the PICD Facebook group.

In 2017, Portland Intown Contra Dance won the award for best music-themed float at the Pride Parade.  Let's win it again in 2018!

Craft Night Banner

Go Roller Skating With Us!

Roller Skating Banner

We enjoyed so much hanging out together at the fundraiser dinner at B.Good last December that we decided to get together just for fun! Meet us at Happy Wheels at 331 Warren Ave in Portland the evening of Tuesday, February 27, 2018.

This is Happy Wheels' regular weekly adult evening, so you must be 18 or older to attend.  Admission is $7, plus $2 if you got to rent skates ($3 for inline).  Drop in anytime between 7:30 and 10:00PM.

FMI about Happy Wheels:

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!