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Dances are occasions during which people dance.

Dances at CTY are similar to school dances, as the conduct is very like a regular old school dance. The music selection, aside, of course, from the Canon, is a mix of common contemporary pop and rap, esoteric rock to appease those who appreciate it, and songs that invite people to show off their skill at certain types of dance. Examples of the latter include swing dances, techno for ravers, and songs that are not on the Canon (yet) but have dances associated with them anyway, such as the CTY Shuffle (Icecream by Lou Bega).

Some campers who opt not to attend certain portions of the dances are sometimes welcome to return to their dorms, where their fellow campers wage war (Risk and chess), "not gamble" (playing cards), and play alternative selections of music or watch movies, supervised by RAs. Others remain in the dance area, and talk to people around them. It is also possible to see someone buried in a book at the dance, if the need overtakes them. Occasionally, there are those who would rather practice raving during non-canon songs, and proceed to join the rave circle later in the dance.


Main article: Canon

Each site has a variety of traditions as to which songs constitute the Canon. The Canon is the set of songs which must be played at all CTY dances. The Canon varies among sites and even between sessions in some rare cases.

Dances by Site


Dances at Lancaster can take place in a few different places, depending on weather and other factors. The primary location is on the main quad, in front of the dining hall. However, in the event of rain, the dance (along with all the speakers and such) is moved to the ASFC, which some people prefer, but which has a tendency to get rather hot. In the extremely unfortunate event of rain coupled with an ongoing event in the ASFC (such as a craft fair), the dance is moved to Mayser Gym, which practically nobody prefers and which has a rather more pronounced tendency to get really hot really fast. In 17.1, three out of five dances were held on Hartman Green because of construction on the quad.

There are usually five dances at Lancaster: first Friday, first Saturday, second Friday, Second Saturday, and last Friday (calendar Thursday). The dances usually last from about 7:30 to past 10:00. On the nights of dances, lights out is extended slightly (11 pm) to allow Afterdance participants to properly prepare for sleeping or sleepovers.

Music at Lancaster dances is rich in Canon, with all of the Upper Canon and half of the Lower Canon being played at each dance. On the day of the final dance, Lower Canon songs are played at lunch and/or dinner so that traditionalists may hear all the Canon and non-traditionalists get plenty of regular dancing music at the dance.

Also, look out for the raving circle when there's techno music on, especially "James Brown is Dead". It's always a great thing to watch!


Dances at Carlisle take place in ATS, the Anita Tuvin Schlecter Auditorium. There are four of them per session:

  1. The evening of First (or "moderate") Saturday;
  2. The evening of Second Friday;
  3. The evening of Second ("Big") Saturday; and
  4. The evening of the Last Thursday.

Dances 2 and 3 are back-to-back dances, which probably contribute to the general lack of energy in the third week of camp. The dance on the Last Thursday is shorter than the other three, being from 8:00 to 10:15, whereas the others start at 7:00.

CTY-ers who don't want to go to the dance can go to Mellow Quad (Super 2nd) to play Risk, various card games, or to watch a G or PG-rated movie. RAs heavily supervise the short route between ATS and Mellow Quad, armed with flashlights. This is because couples often use "going to Mellow Quad" as an excuse to make out behind the bushes.

Dance music at Carlisle consists of a mixture of Canon, generic dance music, and "CTY favorite" songs which are NOT Canon (and usually change from year to year). Dances are rife with traditions, generally in reference to specific songs. Some examples:

"Sandstorm" always results in circles around a few central ravers, despite RA efforts to break this "exclusive" tradition. "The Time Warp" is always performed with the moves outlined in the song lyrics ("It's just a jump to the left"). In "Blister in the Sun," dancers crouch steadily lower during the whispering sequence. The dance to "Tunak Tunak Tun" involves a combination of dancers in the seats (doing a somewhat indescribable arm-movement sequence) and conga lines on the floor, although occasionally the lines move into the stands as well. Sometimes individual dancers freestyle on the floor, though this is relatively rare. In addition, as of 08.2, a head banging circle during "Stairway to Heaven," started by Arthur Schechter and Miriam Sadie (among others- however, the aforementioned two are notable for having had the longest hair at 08.2), became a regular occurrence.

"American Pie," of course, is the most tradition-laden song, with specific phrases to be yelled, dance moves corresponding to lyrics, and massive amounts of circle-swaying, also known as cornucopia.

The dance floor is also very unique because of the fact that it actually shakes depending on how many people are dancing and how fast they are moving. There are often concerted and coordinated efforts to coax the dance floor into literally swaying back and forth, a practice generally not condoned by staff.

Los Angeles (LMU)

There are three LMU dances, which take place from 7:00 to 10:00 or 10:15. The first two are on Friday nights and the last is on Thursday night of the third week. They historically take place in the Rosecrans Courtyard. However, in recent years, they have taken place in Sullivan Courtyard, which is near Doheney and its famous fountain, and the courtyard between the female dorm, Desmond and the male dorm, Whelan. More recently, they have taken place at Regents Terrance and the Sunken Gardens. Little Canon is currently featured at LMU dances, although "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," "Stairway to Heaven," and "American Pie" are all honored traditions. Like at other CTY sites, "Sandstorm" features a few ravers and the occasional breakdancer. Sometimes even the RAs, (Jason Boring) for instance, joins in the raving. Ravers often carry around a pair of connected glow sticks. Don't ever attempt to touch a Raver as they are preforming, accidents may happen.

Usually, large bowls of Doritos, Lay's, oreos, and starburst are out, as well as a jug of warm lemonade or water with cups that usually run out before the end of the dance, and on occasion, before the beginning.

All students are to attend the dances, however, students can also sit on the sidelines and play cards, board games or chess. Movies are played during the dance in the Lion's Den.


There are three dances--the first Friday, the second Friday, and the third Thursday. They all last from 7:00 to 10:00 or 10:15. Dances are always held at the Glass Pavilion. The high holy Canon at JHU consists of "Stairway to Heaven","American Pie", 'Mr. Brightside and Forever Young. There are usually around 3 glowstring ravers, some freehanders, and a few breakdancers. Raving is done to "Sandstorm" and "Everytime We Touch".

There always are games in a separate room and a movie downstairs.

In every session, on the last dance, a slideshow of photos taken of CTYers throughout the session is presented near the end.

In 18.2, Easton CTYers Carly Berglas, Maddy Miller, Barton Chen and RA Jairo taught the whole site Payaso de Rodeo by Caballo Dorado.

Right, left, back, forward, turn

In the past, the CTY Princess and Prince, who were both students, and the CTY King and Queen, who were both RAs, are announced. These spots were voted on earlier in the session. The Princess and Prince, and King and Queen shared a dance, usually to Forever Young, and other students joined in after a bit. However, as of 09 JHU has used the more typical emperor and empress system of position holders rather than voted in roles for one night. The King, Queen, Prince and Princess became defunct traditions.

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs has four dances. Dances are on Friday evenings, held at the Dance Center, a large gym, with the exception of the forty-five minute Dave Rave held on the last Wednesday after evening classes. There are board games in one side of the gym, and the dance takes place in the other half. No other scheduled activities are available, and the dance is mandatory.

It is traditional for nevermores to collaborate and create the playlist for each dance. Unfortunately, the full Canon is not played at every dance anymore, as more pop songs are played, but all High Holy Canon and Upper Canon songs are played. The gym is often hot, so doors are kept open and one may take a break on the sidewalk or grass outside the gym. However, as of 2013, the Dance Gym is air conditioned - but it's still a good idea to take occasional breaks. In 2013.2, the Marriage Booth was set up outside the gym during the second dance.


There are three dances-first Friday, second Friday, and the third Thursday. All are held in the Marlo Room. Easton Canon consists of "All My Life," "Swing, Swing," and "American Pie," in that order. Stairway, Pianoman and Iris, though not officially canon are almost always played right beforehand.


There are three dances: first Friday, second Friday, and third Thursday. They are held at either Campion Ballroom or the student center building.

Sadly, they have a reputation for being boring. Because of the elevator issue, you can't go back to your room. However, there are usually card games going on so you can rest on the side. Common issues of the dance include too-quiet music, bright lights, not enough drinks, a stupid playlist, not enough canon, and too few dancers.

Seattle, being a relatively new site, is generally devoid of tradition and was one of the sites hit hardest by pandemic-related closures. In 2022, the site had less than 100 students and even lacked the "DIE LIVE SEX MORE ORGY" chant during American Pie that occurred in past years.


Three dances occurred at Stanford in one session, often in front of or in the dorms, though the site of the dance changed from year to year. There used to be canon at Palo Alto, but in the years coming up to its closure after the summer of 2016, it was practically nonexistent (other than of course American Pie). For more information on Stanford's canon, please visit the Canon page, where a link to a canon playlist may be found.

Dublin, Ireland

In CTYI, the dance is referred to as a disco. There are three in each session; two on each Saturday and then a final one on the Thursday of the third week.

Santa Cruz

Three dances are held at UCSC: first and second Friday, and last Thursday. The themes of all three are decided by the RA dance committee. In 23.2, the first dance was themed Cowboys vs. Aliens and featured neon green dyed water.

The canon differs significantly from other sites; for example, it does not include Stairway to Heaven nor Iris. It does include many line dances, like The Wobble, Footloose, The Cupid Shuffle, The Electric Slide, Uptown Funk, and the Chicken Dance.

Dances usually feature foursquare, card games, and volleyball circles at the beginning, as well as break dance circles, which turn into "mosh pits" at dark.


If a group of campers takes particularly strong offense with any song, especially in daylight hours, it is common to see them stage a protest. Students may lie down on the open grass and remove their left shoes to hold them in the air. This is done to show that the song being played is "not right," or to illustrate the fact that "God didn't give us two left feet to dance to bad music." This can result in the campers involved being harassed by the counselors themselves, if the song is one that the counselors feel the campers should enjoy. Other campers will protest in different ways. Some dissent against certain songs of the Canon, and will be seen prancing around a group or circle when certain slower songs are played. Protesting, however, is now banned at Carlisle

The Down-Pump

A commonly known dance move at CTY is the down-pump. Often, campers in a dance circle will not know what to do during a song. The answer? The down-pump. A camper will clench their fists. Then (to the beat of the song) they will pump their fists twice downwards and twice upwards. When students see another fellow student down-pumping, it is encouraged for them to join in until the whole circle is doing the down-pump. This lasts until the end of the song and works with virtually any song (but don't do it during canon!)


Main article: Afterdance

There are also different variations of the Afterdance which occurs primarily during Lancaster's two sessions. Other sites have their own post-dance traditions.