Vertical Expression

Probably the UK's most high-energy contra dance band

"Dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire, legalised by music." - George Bernard Shaw

Who we are

Probably the UK's most high-energy contra dance band, Vertical Expression is what happens when you take two English ceilidh musicians on fiddle and melodeon and put them with a guitar and double bass rhythm section with a love of bluegrass and gypsy jazz, all of whom have backgrounds in playing for various kinds of dancing, throw in some old time music and foot percussion, a bit of French-Canadian one-row box, a few Irish fiddle tunes, some Django Reinhardt-style guitar, a bit of creativity and a lot of energy and fun...

Vertical Expression are

Charley Roberts - fiddle
Ian Roberts - one- and two-row melodeons and feet
Ian Benton - guitar
Margaret Benton - double bass

Where you can dance to us next

What we sound like

This is Vertical Expression all playing round one mic, bluegrass-style, live and unedited. Imagine the sounds of a room full of enthusiastic dancers to get the full gig effect.

Previous gigs

What's contra dancing?

Vertical Expression at Towersey festival It's what the Americans do instead of ceilidh.  It's fast, flowing and spinning, and you can put as much energy into it as you like! Quite like ceilidh dancing, but more spinny and less bouncy. For the technically minded, it's usually danced to reels and, to a lesser extent, jigs. 

Knowing what you're doing is not a prerequisite to coming along to a contra dance!  If you've never danced contra before and want to have a go, we recommend coming along to one of the public contra series such as Alcester Contra, London Barndance, Leeds Contra or Contrafusion (Ashford), arriving at the beginning so you can pick up the basics before the event really gets going (standing near the front so the caller can see you also helps) and dancing with people who have done it before so they can guide you through the dances.  

If you don't know anyone who's done it before, stand near the dancefloor looking a bit lost and one of the regulars will no doubt claim you.  Contra dancers tend to be friendly like that, and the all the events we've mentioned here are very welcoming of new dancers. 

There is always a caller who will teach the dances before they're done to music and will continue to call for at least the first few times through the dance (or until everyone looks like they've got the hang of it!).

A number of folk festivals include contra dancing in the programme, such as IVFDF, Sidmouth and Chippenham, and there will also be workshops for you to learn how it's done with more instruction at a more relaxed pace.

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