Ideas for Weathering the Winter Together

During the CDSS Web Chat on November 1, 2021, participants brainstormed ideas for keeping their music, dance, and song groups engaged and connected through the coming months. See below for a compilation of their suggestions for organizers to try out with their communities. We’re happy to continue adding to this list, so please send your thoughts to All ideas welcome!

In-Person Outdoor Activities

  • Walks/hikes with community members to help them stay in touch
  • Meet at the regular time for a walk in a local park; have musicians play walking tunes for a mini-parade!
  • Flash mob, anyone? Organize couple dancing (waltz, etc.) accompanied by a musician or recorded music in public parks, outdoor pavilions, etc.
  • Caroling party
  • Outdoor social picnics with a fire, keeping a safe distance and visiting with friends
  • Outdoor get-togethers every few weeks, vaccines required and masking when not eating (added distancing when eating)
  • Snow people 'sunbathing' in beach chairsAt masked outdoor events, designate an area away from everyone where people can unmask at a distance, perhaps just to listen to the music or take a break.
  • A day at the zoo
  • Dancing on covered basketball courts
  • Skiing, snow shoeing, building snow sculptures

Online Events & Resources

Recurring comment: “We appreciate the way Zoom events bridge distances.”

  • Newsletter ideas:
    • Send out monthly newsletters to stay in touch with community members, open band musicians, etc. These could include news about upcoming local events, highlighting listings in the CDSS online events calendar, Julie Vallimont’s Contra Pulse podcasts, etc.
    • If there are photos/videos of your group dancing in pre-Covid times, sharing links with community members is an opportunity to relive some of those happy times together.
  • Monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly Zoom get-togethers for socials, happy hours, movie nights, etc.
  • Host monthly concerts on Zoom, with open discussion periods before and after for everyone to share
  • Sponsor lectures for deeper appreciation of our dance and song forms and history: Mt. Airy Contra Dance Speaker Series
  • Hold a dance/song/music-related bingo night, trivia event, etc.
  • Attend concerts across the country and around the world, seeing friends along the way


  • Zoom dances and making up satisfying dances to do on your own
  • Introduce your community to Morris dances, Irish dances, other solo dances
  • Try other forms of dance that can be done solo on Zoom with some practice: Balkan, Hungarian, Scandinavian, etc. Good way to maintain balance and “twirl tolerance.”
  • Calendar for folkdancing on Zoom in U.S. and Canada


  • Zoom sessions for singing—ballad sessions in particular, where one singer sings one song, and then Zoom shanty sessions, where there’s a leader and you sing at home. Of course, we miss the harmony singing, but now that we’re able to get into pods, groups of people can be in a location on a Zoom call, and stream their harmonies and their instruments and so forth.

Note: See below for comments on in-person indoor activities.


  • Long Island Traditional Music Association (NY): LITMA Contra Band leads an open Celtic jam almost daily for the duration of the epidemic


  • Organize skill-building workshops for callers, musicians, social equity training, etc.

Note: Community Grants are available to help groups hire consultants and workshop leaders. To apply, visit our Grants page.

In-Person Indoor Activities

Toy car on a map, with text reading 'Are we there yet?!'Disclaimer

The following ideas were offered by Web Chat participants.

CDSS recommends that all organizers follow state and local guidelines to make decisions about when it is safe to resume in-person events in your region.

Visit our Reentry Resources page for resources and considerations.

  • There’s a general notion that pod dancing (e.g. 12 friends in someone’s home) is a first step toward opening up, but likely air circulation isn’t great, especially in the winter.
  • English dances for 1-3 couples at home with vaccinated friends using recorded music.
  • Use pool noodles in each hand to maintain distance. Use scarves or pool noodles to allow sharing some weight. Adapt circle dances to extra spread.
  • Contra dancing on ice (YouTube video of group in Montreal)