There are many fun reasons to start the dance at the bottom of the set:
Music gets better and better as you get nearer the band.
You’re always facing the music and dance toward the band.
The band thinks you like them as you as you progress toward them.
And no one breaks in line behind you.
If you wait until the music starts, (missing the instruction and perhaps then feeling like a newcomer) then no one breaks in behind you at all. You have the added benefit of seeing how well your co-dancers can explain the dance to you. And that helps them learn how to help newcomers to the contra.
You get to meet interesting people when you say to them, “Now what?”
Not only that, you get to chat with your partner longer before you enter the line (which is still trying to spread down the hall) while everyone else is either struggling to learn the dance or chatting with their partner in the line.
And no one looks at you like you’re being obnoxious for these activities.You get to pick the most “competent” line, as identified by the one that got “hands four” first. Or if you like, you can pick the most “incompetent “line, as identified by the one that got “hands four” last. Hence, you get to pick the quality of the dance experience you’re going to have.
You don’t have to show your ho-ho (term used by my first modern dance teacher Erika Thimey , a student of Germany’s giantess of modern dance, Mary Wigman) to the band (unless you twirl “improperly”, or would that be “properly” and in any case you may make a musician drop a note).
You get to select the line with people you want to meet. You get to avoid the line with people you may not wish to meet. And at Glen Echo, you never have to change roles (from a two to a one) because the lines are so darned long- and in todays contra , all dancers are pretty much active.
In a large hall like Glen Echo, you get to check out all the different “dance neighborhoods” -meaning the different lines across the hall, before the committment. If you always start at the top and in the same line, you never get the flavor of the “other side of the hall.”
And when the dance ends, you are at the top of the hall and show your appreciation to the band close and up front and perhaps even buy a CD, and even better, you may ask someone else who also ended up at the top as the music ended for the next dance, as I have noticed that folks who started at the bottom usually have not booked ahead, and even stay put at the top for the next dance, working your way to the bottom to start the cycle over again, if you don’t want to RUN to the bottom of the set.
An absolutely perfect dance starts at the bottom and ends at the top as you are out!!
!!! And facing the Music !!!