Erik Hoffman


Contras, family dances

Erik Hoffman


Erik Hoffman is a fairly recent transplant to the San Francisco Bay Area (July, 1994). He spends his time calling Old-Time Country Dancing, playing music (fiddle, guitar, voice, mandolin, bodhran, and other odds and ends), and tutoring math.

Erik became interested in traditional music and dance when he returned to his home town of Santa Barbara in 1980. Friends dragged him to the contra dances, and he became addicted. In 1985 he called his first dance.

When San Luis Obispo wanted to start a monthly dance series in 1986, Erik started commuting to that lovely town as their regular caller. That dance series continues strong and fun.

Erik also participates in organizing and calling the Berkeley first, third, and fifth Wednesday contra series. Erik also loves leading dances for families and children. Versed in dances for kids of all ages as well as singing games and music play, Erik shares the fun for all. He has led family dances and children's programs from Berkeley to England.

Erik has become well known from Arcata to San Diego, and from Carson City, Nevada, to the Bay Area. He has also toured the United States extensively, on both coasts, and in between. He has been staff at a number of festivals, including the Bay Area Country Dance Society's American Week, Family Week, and Spring Weekend (Monte Toyon); CD*NY's Hudson Guild; Sacramento's Echo Summit; California Traditional Music Society's Solstice and New Year's festivals; San Luis Obispo radio KCBX's Live Oak Music Festival; New Mexico Folk Music & Dance's Memorial Day Weekend; and Seattle's Slugs at Sunrise Music and Dance Camp.

In 1987, Erik took up the fiddle. Three weeks later, on a dare, he competed in the Santa Barbara Old Time Fiddle Contest and won third place in beginning fiddle in a field of three. The following year he placed first in intermediate fiddle. In 1990, Erik came in third in advanced traditional singing.

Erik loves the spirit and joy that is passed along with traditional music and dance, and loves to share his enthusiasm.

Erik says, "So what makes dancing fun? For me it's the sense of connection I get by dancing with my partners and the dancers in my set. It's carrying out the figures in ways that join with the music and dancers. It's being playful in (hopefully) non-destructive ways. It's seeing people I know and like, and having the momentary connection with them as our trails cross in the flow of the dance. It's meeting someone new and seeing their sense of joy as well as helping them through the initial stages of confusion. It's executing a nice twirl with an able dancer and being there on time. It's spacing out the next figure and then catching up and laughing about the mistake. It's achieving an altered state of "no thought" flow with the music, dance, and partners to the point where I feel one with the whole hall."

Besides calling dances, Erik teaches and plays fiddle, guitar, recorder, and more. He loves teaching and leading workshops in music, dance, and calling and he's currently in three contra dance bands: 3 O'Clock Shadow, The OpporTunists, and The Repercussions. They play for contras, squares, parties, and other events.

Dances Erik has taught include Banjos in Love (for Maxine and Brendan), Berkeley Balances, Blues Too, Bob's Delight, Bovine Bliss (Paul and Wendy's Udder Delight), The Dyslexic's Nightmare, Echoes of the Summit, Fred Park's Long Drive, Harmony Invention, Heat Waves, I Wanna Dance, In the Midnight Hour, Lead to Gold, Lead to Gold II, Mad Folk, Made Up Tonight, Major Hey, Men in Chains, New Years in Harmony, The Odd Entrance, Rollaway Mixer, Rollaway Too, Settlement Double Swing, Spacing on Saturn, Star Studded, Thirty-two at Buchon, The Wedding Ring, Useful Tension, and Vashon Island Slug Fest.