Again, trusty Wikipedia describes a Barn Dance as: any kind of dance involving traditional or folk music with traditional dancing, occasionally held in a barn, but, these days, much more likely to be in any suitable building.
The term “barn dance” is usually associated with family-oriented or community-oriented events, usually for people who do not normally dance. The caller will, therefore, generally use easy dances so that everyone can join in.
This Barn Dance was hosted as part of the Humboldt Folklife Festival but is typically a monthly gathering.
When I entered the picturesque Arcata Veterans Hall friends, families and neighbors stood together in circles learning dances. Some people looked nervous, but mostly there was a lot of energized smiles. Everyone was ready to learn the next dance or help teach the next move.
Did I mention there was a live band? Think fiddle, stand-up bass, guitar and banjo. Also, an experience caller to help novice dancers with the next instruction.
I loved watching the kids trying to dance or awaiting anxiously for their turn. The sweetest moment: a toddler dancing confidently with her mother, unaware that she was stealing the show.
As I started taking pictures I realized: these dances are fast.
People are gracefully pushed, pulled and tugged through the footwork of the dance. If you don't know the moves hopefully you have a strong partner who can literally pull you through it.
I think I'll be joining in next time.