And suddenly, we’re back…

For months I had been hearing whispers on the wind. They started growing in the last few weeks into murmurs, until this week, all of the sudden, they seemed to explode into… well, a lot of Facebook posts at least, as something like 5-7 contact events were announced or apparently took place in New York City this week.

I’m not a terribly reliable source of information at the moment. Lots of private get-togethers and jams have been happening in NYC over the past two years during COVID, and while I think I was invited to at least one, maybe two… I just wasn’t into anything that wasn’t going to be super-strict and careful about masking, contact tracing, vaccination status, rapid testing, open windows, and consent, and was pretty attached to staying alive and not infecting anyone around me, and… and so I’m out of the loop.

Somewhat proudly so—as important as contact improvisation is to me, and others, it’s been nice to step back from it for two years and put it in perspective. So many issues and problems in CI seem so, so much smaller compared to the larger problems of the world and society. What a petty, catty, gossipy, high-school-like existence the world of CI can be! How ridiculously conflict-avoidant and nepotistic we are! How lazy we are to integrate, change, innovate, and aspire to something better!

Still, I’ve missed it. I’m glad it’s back, even if I don’t look forward to… all of the above.

And I guess I’m back too, at least for this post. With, I think, a bit more candor and snark, as I’ve seen a bit too much over the last few years to give much more than zero f*cks about CI politics and popularity. We’ll see if that lasts.

What’s going on now

Well, some stuff. I’m not sure who all these folks are. I’m not sure what these venues are. I don’t know if they suck or not. I’m not sure what’s going to last more than a week. I don’t know which are going to be insufferably snooty like most of the NYC jams used to be, or which are going to be better—the Saturday jam will probably still be snooty, but I have some vague hope that it won’t. The Brooklyn jam maybe won’t be—Lily Kane is a talented organizer with some great ideas, and she and her co-organizers seem committed to non-suckiness (i.e., rethinking the CI jam experience).

But here’s a round-up. Lots of flowers blooming all at once, only about half of which I’ve listed here, so definitely check out the Contact Improv NYC Facebook group for the latest for NYC, and check out other links for regional events. Also—no guarantees, buyer beware.

New York City ongoing

  • Brooklyn Jam on Sunday nights, 5pm -8pm. Yeah, this sounds interesting. Closed container, explicitly “Anti-racist,” “Anti-sexist,” “Anti-ableist,” “Anti-violent.” Also check out the Brooklyn Jam Facebook group. Lily Kane is part of the organizing crew for this, and I’m a big fan of hers.
  • Return of the Saturday jam, 2pm-5pm, doors close at 2:15pm. Pre-register at an Eventbrite. Literally only one date posted (today, April 30) as of this writing, but we’ll see what happens. I have such mixed feelings about this jam, as it’s been one of the best jams in the world for dancing level and seriousness, and one of the weirdest in the world in terms of having unspoken, invisible hierarchies, cliques, and rules.1 Nevertheless, worth knowing about. Eventbrite leaves off the ending time, but I saw in a post by Charlie Mosey that it’s 5pm. It seems like capacity is limited due to COVID, so make sure to fill out that registration form if you want to attend. Again, keep an eye on the Contact Improv NYC Facebook group. I think Charlie Mosey is running this, as was pre-COVID.
  • Tuesday virtual jam, 8pm-9pm. Why list a virtual jam? Because it’s been happening weekly for two years, hosted reliably by Funda Gul and Cecilia Fontanesi, two of the nicest people in New York City CI, and both experienced dancers and facilitators. Check Contact Improv NYC Facebook group for details.
  • Wednesday night jam in Manhattan, 7pm-9:30pm I think. I’m gathering details on this, no public post yet, but I think it’s going to happen.

Regional special events

Again, I’m SO out of the loop. But here’s what’s been coming up on my radar:

  • May 12-15, Egg Jam, Gardiner, NY. Some good folks involved in this. Aiming for attendance by 70% people of color, 30% white (!). Wow. I get a little creeped out by some of this racial curation (it’s hard to explain why—probably worth an essay, perhaps preceded by some therapy), but it’s a cool concept, and I hope it goes well.
  • May 12-15, Earthdance CoCo Jam, Plainfield, MA Erm, I’m sure this is great, but the cutesy name stops me. Do read on at the link if you’re interested.
  • May 26-29, Queer Jam/Lab 2022, Earthdance, Plainfield, MA.
  • May 28-29, May Jam Workshop in Boston, taught by Funda Gul and Gabrielle Revlock.
  • June 29 – July 4, Summer Family Jam 2022, Earthdance, Plainfield, MA. This is what used to be called the Fourth of July, or July 4 jam. 2 3 4 5 6 Based on past experience, I think lots of outdoor eating at picnic tables, camping, green grass, and bugs at this one!


I feel like sighing, in an already-exhausted way. Why am I exhausted thinking about contact improvisation coming back? Maybe because it still sucks more than it needs to, and it doesn’t generally feel like the CI world is ready to suck less, despite hopes by many that the pandemic would be a chance for CI to re-invent itself. Do you ever secretly fantasize about a corporate take-over of CI? Yes, it might lose its soul, but it feels like there’d be more accountability for sexual harassment. The bathrooms would probably be nicer, and there’d be decent-sized changing rooms. Maybe there’d be enough money to have wheelchair ramps and elevators. Enh, I guess it’s not like corporations are necessarily better about these things… good corporations are, but bad corporations are terrible AND soulless, see Dollar General. At least CI is just occasionally terrible. But does it ever bother you that McDonald’s probably is more diverse, pays better, has better accessibility, and has better bathrooms than contact improvisation?

Yes, I still love it. No, I’m not going to stop doing it. I think I promised Nancy Stark Smith I’d help CI come back, even if she never heard me make that promise. (Miss you, Nancy.) I might complain more loudly, though. Or take more breaks. Or both.


  1. Imagine showing up to a party where the party hosts don’t welcome you and aren’t identified, but you suspect they’re the people who are laughing and talking mostly with each other right in front of you, while being distant and only vaguely polite to you and the other people who are looking around confusedly. And no one has told you to leave, but you’re really not sure you’re at the right party. And then that goes on weekly for 30 years. That’s kind of like the Saturday jam.
  2. I think they changed the name because (1) it didn’t always fall over July 4, and also (2) there’s some vague sense that it’s racist to celebrate July 4?
  3. I kind of get the idea, but can we also note that plenty of people of color happily celebrate July 4?
  4. But you know, it’s easy to take potshots from the outside, and if I was on the inside I probably would have argued in favor of the change.
  5. And can we also note that this probably matters very little in the grand scheme of things, and it’s a waste of energy to get excited about such a minor issue regarding the name of an event in a form practiced by so few people and that has so little effect on the larger world of politics, economics, or society?
  6. And if we’re going to talk at all about equity and justice in CI shouldn’t we be focusing on things less cosmetic and more structural, like (a) having consent policies, communicating them clearly, and working on a cultural shift towards consent culture; (b) physical accessibility to spaces for people with disabilities; (c) financial access to events, especially multi-day sleep-over jams and festivals; (d) adequate compensation for facilitators and teachers; (e) the ridiculous opacity around even finding out when and where CI events are happening; and (f) other barriers that are keeping people out in more tangible ways?

2 comments for “And suddenly, we’re back…

  1. 2022/09/16 at 10:05

    apreciate the brief and honest opinions on the regional jams! Refreshingly take it or leave it!

  2. Zach Pine
    2022/05/01 at 09:02

    Thanks for the time and care you give to this work Richard.

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