Things Folkish in Tucson and Arizona

last revision [2/15/04] (but not all the info is really that up to date).
Collected by: theron (terry) friedman / tzf @ 520/325-0073

Being a guide to where things are happening in Tucson and surrounding Arizona for visitors interested in folk dance and music.

WARNING: this page is only updated on whim; use the contact numbers & addresses to get the latest information. Dates in brackets, e.g. [11/02] give the last time I updated or checked the entry.



*Tucson (and most of AZ except Phoenix) area code is 520/.
*Locations are given with the University of Arizona (U/A) or downtown as a convenient central reference point
*For annual events: if next date isn't know, the last date is given just to show approximate time of year

Weekly/Monthly Meetings:


Tucson International Folk Dancers, Wednesday nights, 8-10pm, @Muse Arts Center
5th Ave at 6th St. (1/2 mi. W of U/A campus)
Contact: Martha Van Winkle, 792 2694, or tzf

U/A IFD club (I-Dance) (mostly beginning level): Fridays 5-7pm. @Newman Center, 2nd Ave. at Cherry St. All are Welcome. (Sometimes doesn't meet during school breaks) [11/02]

Beginners class Tuesdays 7-8:30 @ Lighthouse YMCA (Columbus, between Ft Lowell & Grant), $8.00/month. Runs Sept-May.


1st & 3rd Saturdays of the month (sometimes also 5th Saturday)
Contact: Tucson Friends of Traditional Music, Becky Nankivell 293-3783, or tzf
First United Methodist Church, 915 E. 4th St. Entrance is on Park, between 4th and University (just west of UA campus). 1st Saturdays usually open band, 3rd Saturdays ususally set band. $7 general public, $6 TFTM members, $5 students. 7:30 pm teaching for beginners 8 - 11 pm dance There's usually a dance on 5th Saturdays, often at different locations.

There are frequently other "special" dances.

Dance in the Desert camp, First Weekend in November. Triangle Y Camp,Oracle, Arizona.
contact: P.O. box 40654, Tucson 85717, or 520/327-1779, or


Sundays at OPSDA, 12-4 or so. Classes from advanced to beginning.
Tuesdays: 6:15-7:15 @ Wetmore Center (701 W. Wetmore Rd) 6:15-7:15. $3.00. Info: 797-9632 [11/02]

Other Contacts:
Edie Hund - Arizona Clogging Association, 509 E Gay St, Tucson, AZ 85705-3610 USA, Phone: (520) 887-4291,
Howell, Kathy & Leon, 520-726-8276
Vettore, Theresa, 520-797-9632,
Wilson, Anne, 520-297-0843,


Tuesday eveinigs, @ Jewish Community Ctr
7-8:30 beginners; 8:30-10:00 advanced
3800 E River Rd at Dodge road (5+ Mi NE of U/A) 299 3000


Bracken School of Irish Dance: children's step-dancing & adult ceili-dancing classes Tuesday & Thursday afternoons/evenings at Dance Moves Studio: 2514E. 6th St. For more information or to sign up for classes, contact Rosemary Browne 296-8476 (Also have classes in Phoenix)
Irish Dance Competition: Feile Rince Tucson


Thursday nights 7:30-9:30pm, $4 (first class free) (Tucson Branch of the RSCDS)
First United Methodist Church hall
415 E. 4th at Park (entrance is on Park, faces the W. end of U/A)
Contact: Verna Van Loan: 299-5566; Courtney Cartwright: 887-0875 work:740-6230; or Jaunita Mayo 621-2381 or 327-3766
- this is the recreational class. There is also a performing group.
Tucson Highland Games (Highland Dancing)


Check out the Black Leather Zydeco page for their gigs and upcoming events.


Old Time Community Square dances, Fred Feild caller; 2nd Saturday of every month, 7-10 pm
@Armory Senior Center. Donation requested. Info 747-7010 Note: Fred also does some performances.

Modern (Western) : too many groups to list. Try contacting:
OPSDA (Old Pueblo Square (& Round) Dance Center)
613 E Delano (off 1st Ave, about 2 mi N of U/A)
- they seem to have a different club every night of the week.

T-squares. Cornerstone Fellowship Social Hall. 2909 North Geronimo. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered square dance, open to all. 6:30 - 8 p.m. Info: Michael at 884-8320 or Carol at 749-1617.

Fun Squares. Comanche Wells Mobile Home Park Community Room, 775 W. Roger Road. Plus level square dancers. Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. Single ladies are especially welcome. Info: 326-9284.


  • Flamenco classes Flamenco y Mas, 41 N. Tucson Blvd. For adults and children, through 5/03. Info: 622-0440.
    Also: Dance Moves Studio, 2514 E. Sixth St. $7.50/hour.
    Beginners: Thursdays 5-7. Advanced/intermediate: Mondays 6:30-8 p.m. Children: Wednesdays 5-6. Info/Reg: 745-8431.
  • SWING & 2-STEP:

    Is done in the bars, dance studios, and clubs. East-coast (triple step) and Jitterbug aren't seen much, and I don't know of anyplace that plays music of the "swing era." What is done here is Western 2-step (aka progressive or Texas 2-step), west-coast (slotted) swing, and a couple of varieties that apparently originated in Arizona: "pony" swing and "Tucson 2-step" (aka Arizona or rhythm 2-step).

    Tucson Swing Club (primarily west-coast) meets 7-10pm Thursdays at the Tucson Women's Club. $5.00 for non-members. Contact: Rose Marie Burrell - 745-0255

    Tucson Lindy Hop

    A number of bars have dancing every night of the week, usually no cover charge during the weekdays, often special cheap dinner buffets during the week, and sometimes free lessons. The best known (largest floors and most likely to have dancers on them) are:

    Cactus Moon Cafe
    5470 E. Broadway (4 mi SE of U/A)
    - Lessons as of 3/97 (call for current schedule), 6:30-7:30 pm on:
    Wednesday: couple dances; Thursday: line dances; Saturday: line dance; Sunday: Couples (usually swing or 2-step, usually mobbed)
    1527 E Bensen (4-5 mi S of U/A)
    Had a drop-in class ($5) in pony swing on Sundays at 3:00. Call to be sure it's happening. (Pony swing is like a cross beteween contra-dance swing and jitterbug).
    Dance classes many evenings. Thursday Swing class (7/98), 7-8:15pm $20/person Call Eileen 797-9975.
    The Bum Steer
    ?? - may have classes on Monday nights
    Some of the commercial dance studios have begun having special evenings where they give an hour's lesson and then open dancing for the rest of the evening. Cost $5-$10, with the additional benefit of an alcohol free / smoke free environment. Some of the evenings are for 2-step, west-coast swing, or just swing; the style tends to be more competition/ballroom oriented than you'd see in the bars (i.e. jest folk). These appear and disappear at random times; look for ads in the papers or check under Dance Instruction in the yellow pages. Right now (mid 1994) one of the better offers (a different style every day of the week) is at:
    Studio West
    6061 E. Broadway (E. of Craycroft, ~5 mi E of U/A)
    747 9464


    The other local things of interest are Mexican Folklorico groups, and various Tribal groups. The thing to do is to check out the papers when you pass through to see if anyone is performing

    Some of the restaurants have Mariachi orchestras (usually weekends) and occasionally Flamenco or Folklorico dancers. Check papers, yellow pages. In particular:



    No live balkan dance music, sigh.

    Borderlands Klezmer Band. Contact: Jay Vosk, 621 1331

    Mzekala: women's singing ensemble, balkan + international material.
    contact: Barbara Whittlesy, 795-8107

    U/A Balalaika Orchestra. Contact: Mia Bulgarin Gay

    For anglo / celtic / american:

    Web pages for Folkish Tucson Bands


    FYI, Waila or "Chicken Scratch" is a Tohono O'Odam adaptation of the European dance music of the late 19th century (to present). Polkas, Schottishs, Waltzes, and "Cumbia". If you see any advertised it's worth listening to; the dancing is usually pretty easy to figure out. Check out: FestivalDocumentation Project



    The Folk Shop
    2525 N. Campbell, N. of Grant Rd. (1+ Mi N of U/A)
    instruments of all varieties; books; occasional workshops
    Armory Park Seniors Center
    220 S. 5th Ave (S.E. corner of Downtown, between 12th & 13th streets)
    also for seniors: Ballroom, "Country Western Plus Dances", and dance classes.
    Randolph Park Recreation Center
    S. Alvernon (S. of Broadway, 2 1/2 mi SE of U/A)
    Also tap, ballet, etc. classes
    Zuzi "Move It" Dance Lab, in the Historic YWCA
    738 N. 5th Avenue (SE corner of University Blvd). 520/629-0237
    offers Modern, Jazz, Tap, Skinner Releasing, etc., also hosts TIFD, Capoiera, Pilates.
    MUSE, Tucson's Home for the Arts
    516 N. 5th Ave, @6th st.
    offers Salsa, swing, etc.
    Tucson Women's Club
    6245 E Belleview (at Wilmot) (NW of Speedway & Wilmot; 5 mi E of U/A)
    Tucson Swing dance club; Ballroom Dance Club
    Berger Performing Arts Center
    at Arizona State Schools for the Deaf & Blind
    Speedway Blvd. (N side) west of I-10 (use west parking lot). Concerts.


    TFTM - Tucson Friends of Traditional Music
    Sponsors Contra dances, jams, concerts and camps
    Contact: Becky Nankivel 293-3783; TFTM, PO Box 40654, Tucson, AZ 85717; e-mail
    Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association
    Performers & Songwriters Assn. Sponsers Concerts, Jams, annual Tucson Folk Festival, weekly Acoustic Showcase
    Tucson Blues Society
    P.O. Box 30672, Tucson 85751 Promotes blues: workshops, yearly festival, newsletter: "Blues Beat" Contact: (hotline) 579-7955;

    Desert Bluegrass Association:
    DesertBluegrass Association
    7878 East Cloud Road, Tucson 85715 Sponsors: Monday meetings, workshops, (concerts?)
    contact: Bonnie Lohman 761-8384; Dan Liebler, 577 7354
    Tucson Old Time Fiddlers:
    Old Time, Country & Contest Fiddle; Meets weekly on Tuesdays; Yearly Festivals/contests.
    Contact: Jack Childs, 883-4029 or Laura Barry, 743-9491
    Tucson Meet Yourself
    Sponsors yearly Tucson Meet Yourself festival
    Contact: Rose Marie Huerta 888-8816; Dennis Evans
    Tucson Swing Club
    Meets Thursday evenings 7-9:30. classes & open dances, $3. Mostly "West Coast" style.
    Contact: 326-4841; Rose Marie Burrell - 325-9436; Randy McNellis - 1332 E. Hendrick Dr - 323 2703
    Tucson Jazz Society
    sponsors concerts. Hot line for happenings & clubs: 743 3399
    Senior Citizens Club #1, Tucson Parks & Rec
    220 S. FIfth Ave, Tucson; 791-4685
    Sponsors: Daily classes and dances of various kinds (ballroom, country, square)
    at Armory Senior Center
    Western Music Association, Inc.
    P.O. Box 34008, Tucson 85740; 825-5521 (fax: 825-3704
    sponsors: yearly Western Music Festival
    European Multi-Ethnic Alliance of Tucson (EMAT)
    Umbrella for ethnic/national clubs. Sponsors semi-annual ethnic festivals in malls (location changes) in November & March.
    Meets: 7:30 pm on 2nd tuesday of each month @ Double Tree Hotel
    Contact: Loretta Olson,, or 745-2173 or PO Box 44301, Tucson, AZ
    Associated Clubs:
    Arizona Irish Music Society
    SPICMACAY (Society for Promotion of Indial Classical Music & Culture Among Youth)
    Puts on Concerts. Other programs?
    Contact: Deepa Wadhwani 544-2355; Preeti Pande 321-0963; Nanda Ramanujam 621-8261 Email:

    Other Places in the Arizona

    Phoenix is about a 2 hour drive from Tucson,
    Prescott is about 2 hours N of Phoenix. 4 hours from Tucson.
    Flagstaff ditto.
    Bisbee is about 2 hours SE of Tucson.
    Cottonwood is ....

    [ I can hunt up more info about most of the following, but am not tracking to keep any of it up to date.]

    Green Valley

    International FD Wednesdays 7:00-8:30 @ Madera Vista Rec Center. 625-3440. or email Ellen Templar


    (Phoenix area code is 602; Tempe / Scottsdale / Mesa area code is 480)

    contra dances:

  • Phoenix Friends of Old-Time Music
    (usually) 2nd Saturday of each month. Teach 7pm; dance 7:30-10:30pm
    - $8.00 ($6.00 for PFOTM members; students w/id: $3.00)
    Kenilworth School, 1210 N. 5th Avenue (I-10 @ 7th Ave Exit) contact:
    also: 4th Sunday of the month (Feb - April), 3-6pm
    at: Arthur Murray Dance Studio, 1210 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix (NE quadrant of 12th St and Indian School Rd) Ann Eskayo: 480/759-2382 [10/03]
  • international:
    Phoenix International Folk Dancers
    Thursdays (except holidays) @ Encanto Park Clubhouse (15th Ave N. of Encanto Blvd), free
    Teaching 7:30-8:30pm, Open dancing 8:30-10pm;
    Contact: Lois Postel 480/968-0573
    Annual Folkdance Festival 1-4pm in March @ Los Olivos Senior Center, 2802 E. Devonshire, Phx

    Annual Slavic Festival in March [3/8-10/96] at St. Sava's Church, 4525 E. McKinley St., Tempe. Contact 598-5705, 641-8023, 502-5060

    other dancing:

    Music Info:


  • Folk Happens! First Friday (usually) of each month. 445 8823

  • Prescott Armory, 824 E. Gurley, (teach @7:30) 8 - 11pm, $4 contact: Jan Alexander 928-776-7348

    IFD: Jack Yule 778-4416. Meets Tues Eves, also classes other evenings

    Dances of Universal Peace: 3nd Saturday of each month, 7-9 pm @ Prescott College Chapel. $5 donation. contact Janine Walter 520/717-2379



    international:Flagstaff International Folk Dancers. 1st/2nd/3rd Mondays of the month, 7:00-8:30pm, FREE
    @ Thorpe Adult Center, 245 N. Thorpe Street Contact: Susan Blanchard, 520/213-9184.

    contra: Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music 1st Saturday of each month, 7:30-11pm, $5
    Marshall School: 850 N. Bonito; info: 774 7261 or 522-8802 or Deb Comly

    Annual Mountain Dawn Dance [9/1/01] AZ We Dance

    English Country Dance - monthly, but no contact info yet

    Flagstaff Swing Dance Club: contact H. Leon Raper
    520/525-1054; P.O. Box 23429; Flagstaff, AZ 86002


    Bisbee International Folk Dance Club: Monday 7-9pm, all welcome.
    @ Border Fitness Plus (in Lowell Plaza, Bisbee)
    Contact: Cynthia Jacobson (432-4440), Ted Williams (432-3542), Tasha Marsh (432-4508) -

    Other Forms:


    contra: 3rd Saturday of each month through May, 2001 (off for the summer).
    7:30 @ Cottonwood Civic Center, 827 North Main
    Contact: LaDonna Lee, 520/592-0496
    Note: the group often goes out for supper for the dance. Contact LaDonna for information about time and location.

    other events

    Annual Southwest Dulcimer Festival

    Other Connections

    Tucson info

    U/A Music Dept folk activities page
    KUAT/KUAZ radio & TV (PBS, Classic, Jazz)
    CityNet guide to arizona
    DesertNet list of dance events in Tucson. Updated Weekly!
    Tucson Daily Star events calendar

    dance & folk music

    Dwayne Johnson's National Contra Dance Map
    Kiran Wagel's National Contra Dance Directory
    Leon Raper's Swing Dance corner
    Folk Dance Association
    New England Folk Arts Center
    New England Folk Festival Association
    California Folk Dance Federation
    Eastern European Folk Life center
    Country Dance & Song Society

    Library of Congress:

    An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instructor Manuals 1490-1920
    Charles T. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection (songs)