Becoming a CDSS Member connects you to a continent-wide network of groups, individuals, and families who believe that singing, dancing, and making music together enriches our lives, builds community, and speaks to the needs of the present.

With your support, CDSS fosters the growth and strength of traditional dance, music, and song in North America. Together, we can make it happen!

Already a member? Renew here.

  • Classic Membership

    Pay your membership dues for one year. We remind you when it’s time to renew. Rinse and repeat!

    Individual: $25-50/year
    Family: $35-75/year
    Donor: $100-5,000/year

    Join now!

  • Classic with Auto-renew

    Join or renew now. Next year, you’ll be charged automatically. You won’t have to renew again unless your card info changes or you’d like to change your membership level.

    Individual: $25-50/year
    Family: $35-75/year
    Donor: $100-5,000/year

    Join now!

  • Circle of Friends

    Pay your membership dues with an automatic monthly or quarterly gift to CDSS. Your membership will be active right away. You won’t need to renew again unless your card info changes or you’d like to change the amount of your gift.

    $5-100/month

    Join now!

Member Benefits

Most CDSS resources are accessible to everyone. In recognition of members’ crucial role supporting our mission, we offer additional services and benefits for members only, including:

Contact Us

John Dexter—morris dancer, musician, teacher, fearless leader and guiding light of New York City’s Bouwerie Boys—passed quietly from this world in May 2023, leaving behind a 50 year legacy of incalculable breadth. Thank you, John! Thank you for the legacy of your years of dancing, playing, and teaching, and for your generous legacy gift, which will help CDSS to flourish this year and well into the future.

I have just finished the somewhat surreal task of planning for my eventual demise by establishing a process by which a portion of my estate will be given to CDSS.

As do others during this process, I evaluated all the possible people and organizations to whom I might give this sort of gift. And I concluded that CDSS is the organization I feel most strongly about.

The reasons are at once myriad and simple.

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It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Gainesville, Florida. Sunlight was streaming through the windows onto the dance floor. The band Steamshovel and caller Alex Deis-Lauby were guiding us through an amazing morning of dance. I said to my partner, “Isn’t this a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning?” She replied, “BEST CHURCH EVER!”

It is a sentiment we’ve heard on dance floors across the country. Many of us consider the music and dance community to be our spiritual community or extended family. We recognize in the friendships and the transcendent experiences, an element of the holy.

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The country dance form can be thought of as an exquisite vessel, in itself beautiful in shape, yet highly abstract.
We can choose to fill this vessel with whatever meaning we like.
If we like,
we can pursue a particular friendship;
we can rejoice in a sense of community;
we can see in the music and the dance the highest of spiritual values;
we can see it as good fun.
The dance is all of these and greater than all of them.

This lovely quote is from my first dance mentor, Carl Wittman (1943-1986). It has been an inspiration for many years.

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Robin and I both grew up in families that believed in philanthropy, and it’s a core value that we brought into the marriage. We have enough. Not everyone does. We’ve worked for it, sure, but it’s mostly the result of luck and timing and privilege. We both consider it a duty, a joyful one at that, to see to it that our fortunate circumstances get used to make the kind of difference we want to see in the world.

I found the music and dance scene after college, at a stage of life when I was emotionally not in such great shape. Dancing literally gave me the first sense of belonging somewhere. The long term friendships that I’ve maintained only began then. Dancing saved me and made me more whole.

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Sure, getting dressed up for the annual Playford Ball is fun, but for over 50 years it’s been the variety of moods in the music and patterns in the dances that have kept me engaged. Not to mention the people I’ve danced them with.

Over those years, what I’ve learned is that it just doesn’t happen all by itself. People who cared kept those dances going, kept that music playing. They learned from someone and they are passing it on – like family love. But dedication and love are not enough. They also need money. So, when I no longer need it, they’re going to get some of mine.

My wife Lynne Stauff and I are planners and savers. Since we don’t have children and are in our early to mid 50s, we wanted to plan where our money would go when we are no longer here. Contra dancing was one of the first things Lynne took me to when I met her and I became addicted shortly thereafter.  So when our financial advisor asked us to create a trust and pick some beneficiaries, it was a no-brainer to include the contra dance community.

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