Camp DAMP to host local, Lower 48 artists

Posted: Friday, July 04, 2008

Juneau dancers are getting ready to celebrate the 16th great year of dancing, music, family and friends at Southeast Alaska's premier contra dance retreat, Camp DAMP, to be held July 11-13 at the Eagle River United Methodist Camp, 28-mile Glacier Highway. Camp DAMP features the Portland, Ore., contra dance band Joyride and Seattle caller Laura Mé Smith, with a fascinating slate of old, new, simple and intricate dances for participants of all abilities.

Registration begins at 3 p.m. July 11, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and a welcome dance. July 12 and 13 will feature dances, dance and music workshops, singing and food. There will be three camper dances late Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday morning, plus daily jam sessions. The weekend will end at 4 p.m. July 13, after a farewell dance and cleanup party.

Musicians and callers should bring instruments and dance cards. Singers should bring songbooks.

In the Camp DAMP tradition, campers prepare the tasty meals, and each person does two hours of chores over the course of the weekend. The registration form includes sign-up for Friday afternoon camp set-up chores and bread-baking.

Joyride is well-known throughout the Pacific Northwest for its tight ensemble work, skilled play, fun energy and inventively arranged tune combos fit to dances and played spot-on, close to the floor. This will be the group's first visit to Alaska.

Smith has been delighting dancers with her easy-going teaching style and quick wit since 1980, said local dance caller Odette Foster. She is a master caller of many forms of country dance - from fast southern squares to historic English country to waltz and other couple dances. She calls contras, squares and English Country Dance with clarity, joy and some really bad jokes.

"Smith is in demand from Montana to Alaska as well as up and down the West Coast," Foster said. "We're very pleased to have her with us again this year. Her previous visits to Juneau in 1996 and 2004 challenged and thrilled dancers of all abilities."

In addition to artists from the Lower 48, Camp Damp's will feature performances by Juneau's own Alaska String Band, featuring the Zahasky family and Full Circle, with Greg Burger, Mary DeSmet and Cecily and Art Morris.

New dancers are welcome and a partner is not necessary, because people change partners after each dance. Dances are alcohol-free and smoke-free. At Camp DAMP, campers stay in rustic cabins or their own tents. They will eat and dance in the main lodge and prepare the six gourmet meals in the adjoining kitchen. Each camper does several chores. The camp facilities include a bathhouse with running water and hot showers.

Registration fee is $105. For more information, call Odette Foster at 586-1787, e-mail to or visit The Joyride Web site is

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