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Fun, fitness & friendship!
Monday 28 November was a very good night. Thirty-five Johnsonville members and ten keen visitors made for a full floor of dancers, with our tutor Rod Downey in charge of giving us a night of friendship and fun to end our dancing year. Members were as willing as ever, turning up early to set out chairs, string up tartan bunting, and put up programme posters and tartan rugs to create a festive feeling. Prisilla and Maura stringing up the club’s tartan bunting It was really nice to see some of our covid-affected dancers returning to the dance floor, and it was especially pleasing to see four of this year’s new dancers doing themselves proud as they celebrated their first year as Scottish country dancers. Condolences to those who couldn’t attend due to illness and injury, we did miss you. The band also had a member missing due to illness, but Lynne Scott and Cassandra Bahr did an excellent job as a duo, and James Scott worked his magic with the sound system to bring out the best of the musicians, and the hall acoustics. We danced to toe-tapping music from Cassandra Bahr and Lynne Scott Rod is always quite ambitious for us. He devised a programme with a mix of easier and more challenging dances, ensuring there was never a dull moment. And even though Blue Bonnets was the only one of the thirteen dances that wasn’t walked, Rod kept us up to pace and we finished the full programme exactly at 10pm. Dancing The Wind that Shakes the Barley with Rod keeping a close eye on proceedings The Australian Ladies, one of the more challenging dances Although this year was much less covid-disrupted than the past two years, it did affect our social events. The club’s Summer Ceilidh was cancelled, and the rescheduled Mid-Winter Summer Social was a pot-luck affair rather than the usual catered event. In recognition of this, the committee wanted to make Final Night that little bit more special for our members. Entry was free, and Allison Kay and Kristin organised supper treats, so members didn’t have to ‘bring a plate’. There were delicious cakes from Arobake (yum), sausage rolls, Indian mini-samosa and pakora, chocolate brownies, and healthy fresh strawberries to balance it all out. Supper Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan created a display of tempting Lindt chocolate truffles, skilfully sliced the cakes into ever-such-slender serves, and had everything ready just when it was needed. Once everyone was revived with supper and a hot drink, we paused the chit-chat to officially award Honorary Life Membership to club member Loralee Hyde. You can read her commendation here Club President Kristin Downey outlined the more than 30 years of service Loralee has given to Johnsonville club, with special recognition of her contributions in photography and digital communications, above and beyond the call of duty. Loralee received her certificate of Honorary Life Membership from Kristin, to congratulatory applause. Honorary Life Member Loralee Hyde with Kristin and Rod Downey. Photo: Allison Kay Later in the evening, Kristin thanked tutor Rod Downey for another year of tutoring at Johnsonville, for the effort he puts in to bring us good times on the dance floor every week. He too received very well-deserved applause. It was a great night of dancing, music, supper and good company, and its success was down to everyone who did their bit on the night and throughout the year. Thank you all. Some of our newer dancers took to the floor with the more experienced to dance The Triumph Click on the gallery below to enjoy all of Loralee’s photos, recording the good times at our 2022 Tartan and Final Night. Kristin Downey1 December 2022 All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted Download the Tartan and Final Night 2022 Programme [...] Read more...
Loralee Hyde in the centre with Johnsonville President Kristin Downey and tutor Rod Downey, was awarded Honorary Life Membership of Johnsonville Club on 28 November 2022. Photo: Allison Kay Rod and I have known Loralee since we started dancing in 1991, and she has been increasingly involved in supporting Johnsonville club activities across the last 30 years or so. Apart from time living overseas, Loralee has been a Johnsonville club member since at least 1993 (the earliest date recorded), and was dancing at the club prior to that while still a member of Ngaio club. She was Club President in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and under her stewardship club membership increased from 27 in 1997, to 50 in 2000. Loralee encouraged the relaxed and informal atmosphere that we continue to enjoy in the club today, with mixing between newer and experienced dancers, and an emphasis on having fun. 1999: Loralee at the right when she was Club President, at a club potluck dinner before the AGM Loralee has also served the club in many other capacities during the last 30 years, even though she hasn’t been able to dance regularly in the last few years. Although not official roles, they are integral to building the club’s membership and its sense of community, as well as providing support for the club’s ability to operate effectively. Photography Loralee’s most visible role is as club photographer. She’s taken photos at club events over many years, as far back as 1991, and at Wellington Region events such as Hogmanays and New Dancers’ Celebrations where she manages to capture as many club members as possible dancing at these evenings. She also takes photos of club members as required for newspaper articles, the newsletter, the website etc. You will see Loralee’s photos accompanying newsletter items, in articles posted on the club website and Facebook, and in the Wellington Region newsletter, Harbour City Happenings. Whenever I’m writing any sort of historical article about the club or our people, I am able to call on Loralee to provide a photo from her vast collection. 2016: Loralee the photographer is photographed at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration. Photo: John Patterson Loralee also employs her photo editing skills to help enhance the photos she and others take – cropping photos to show the subjects to best advantage, scanning printed photos in high quality, improving the light or clarity, and resizing photos so they’re suitable for publication. Behind the scenes Loralee has taken on the role of photographic archivist – at the end of each year she backs up all the club photos that she has taken that year (or received from others), onto an external hard drive. We now have an archive of over 2000 photos. For the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016, Loralee not only took photos on the night, she curated a collection of archival photos which were displayed as a video presentation at the event. This was a huge amount of work, and was a very special feature of the celebrations. 2016: Dancers at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration watching the photo show produced by Loralee . Photo: John Patterson 2016: Loralee with a presentation from the club for the communications work she did for the 50 Golden Years Celebration – photography, design and developing the club website Then during lockdown in 2020, Loralee broadened her scope, taking on some video-recording to illustrate Rod’s website articles on practising dancing. These continue to prove useful, especially for the club’s new dancers. (For example, this year, the Talking about reels page was one of the most-viewed posts at the time when Rod was teaching reels.) Digital communications Loralee’s professional background in communications and marketing has been of great value to the club. Facebook page Loralee set up the club’s Facebook page in 2014, a first foray for the club into social media, allowing us to increase our club profile, and promote beginners’ classes and club events more widely. Club website Two years later, in 2016, Loralee was responsible for setting up the club website, which really has made a huge difference in our digital presence. It provides a central point of information for club members, relating to events, dancing resources and news. It is also a historical repository. Website statistics from 2017 to the present show large increases in the number of visitors each year (rising from 1531 to 3937), and number of views (4365 to 9808). It is clear the website provides a great service to our members, and many others. The website really came into its own during Covid, keeping members engaged and informed when we were unable to dance. In 2020, there were almost 11,000 views of the website from more than 3000 visitors. Loralee continues to maintain the website, restructuring it as required, and updating the calendar, beginners, membership, and ‘about us’ pages. She also posts all the articles that appear on the website, involving formatting text, and supplying, editing and inserting photos. Her design skills are employed in beginners’ class advertising, poster design for beginners’ classes and dance programmes, and designing promotional material for other events such as the club’s mid-winter dinners. She also develops online forms for event registration and club membership, making club operations more effective and efficient. 2015: Loralee as photographer at Johnsonville club’s first mid-winter dinner and dance – A Bright Mid-winter Night (Photo: Pat Reesby) and the event poster she designed. Loralee also writes articles for the club website and for Harbour City Happenings, mainly historical photo stories about special events club members have participated in over the years such as Hogmanays, and tributes to those who have contributed to Scottish Country Dancing in the Wellington Region. Mailchimp newsletters 2019: Part of Johnsonville club’s first Mailchimp newsletter in July 2019 In 2019 Loralee suggested we create special e-newsletters to inform and encourage new dancers in particular, to attend the Annual Dance. She created a template and edited Mailchimp newsletters over four weeks, resulting in a very successful event with a large turnout of both newer and experienced dancers. Based on this success, Loralee went on to develop the Mailchimp template which has become standard for the club’s weekly newsletters. Initially she also edited the newsletters, later training John Homes and me, and continues to give ongoing support. The club has received many compliments regarding the professionalism and presentation of the newsletter. Altogether, Loralee averages 75-100 hours a year of work on the club’s behalf, and during covid lockdown in 2020, that increased to almost 130 hours loading articles onto the website to keep dancers engaged and informed when club dancing was not possible. There are now 258 articles on the website, which along with Loralee’s photos, provide a valuable historical record of the friendship and fun we have at Johnsonville club. 2017: One of Loralee’s favourite photos in the club photographic archive. At our Vikings & Celts of Johnsonville Midwinter fun, feast and frolicking event – with three club photographers present; Loralee, John Patterson and Pat Reesby. Thank you Loralee for your long and active support of the club through digital communication and photography, beyond the call of duty. Kristin DowneyClub President28 November 2022 See more about Loralee’s life time of photography [...] Read more...
To members in recognition of service Allison Kay For 9 years’ service as Club Treasurer Allison joined Johnsonville Scottish Country Dance Club as a beginner in 2013. At the end of 2013, club treasurer Barbara Thomson became very ill, and in early 2014 Allison volunteered to take on the role of acting treasurer. Allison stood as treasurer at the 2014 AGM, and has been club treasurer ever since, an amazing tenure of nine years in the job. No other Johnsonville club treasurer has approached that length of service. (According to club records the next most long-serving was Ron Hook, treasurer for five years from 1984-1988.) Changing times Over the last nine years, quite a few things have changed in the life of the club, increasing the number of financial transactions, and expanding the duties of treasurer. The club: has widened its advertising campaign for beginners’ classes holds more social events like the summer ceilidh and midwinter dinner continues to increase the number of live music nights has introduced the option of an annual door fee. Each of these comes with an increasing number of costs and payments, and consequent increased workload for the treasurer. The ANZ: reduced its opening hours and then closed its branch in Johnsonville, making banking of door money less straightforward phased out cheque books, necessitating the club switching to online authorisation of payments, not an easy transition due to ANZ processes Covid also came into play. Cancellation of club nights and events over the last three years has resulted in reimbursements to those who had paid annual door fees, and registration fees for cancelled events. Additional service In her time on the committee, Allison has also taken on other responsibilities. She has: been heavily involved in Midwinter dinners since we introduced them in 2015, delighting us with her mulled wine, co-organising catering, and taking on the role of kitchen co-ordinator served as finance person on the combined Annual Dance sub-committee each year since 2018, when we made the move to shared annual dances with Capital City Club handled finances for special club events like the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration, and one-off region events organised by Johnsonville, such as Hogmanay and New Dancers’ Celebrations. I am extremely grateful to have had the continuity of service that Allison has brought, and particularly to have had her support during the Covid years. It has made my role as President an easier one, having someone with an intimate knowledge of the club’s finances, who I can rely on completely. Thank you Allison. Christine Crewdson For her spreadsheet work (membership and dance books) Christine is a very recent member of the club, only joining us at beginners’ classes in February. Despite this, in April she stepped forward when I asked if anyone could help with updating the club’s historical spreadsheet of membership. This list was created by Joan Clayton in 2016 for the club’s 50 Golden Years’ Celebration, but hadn’t been updated since then. On 21 April I passed on five years’ worth of membership lists, and by 4 May it was done and dusted, and I thought I would try my luck and see if Christine would be interested in cataloguing the club’s dance books. With dreary weather coming up, Christine thought it could be a good autumn-winter activity. Over the next 2-3 months we exchanged packages of books on Monday nights, and Christine created a catalogue of the 227 different books held by the club, Rod’s copies of those books and the additional 164 which Rod owns personally. A lot of the books have been donated over the years, to the club and to Rod. Christine suggested including donor information, along with all the other information. In total, Christine worked her way through 629 books once duplicates were included. A mighty effort. Spreadsheets are not everyone’s cup of tea, but fortunately for us, Christine enjoys ‘playing with spreadsheets’. Her work has added to the club’s historical records of membership and made life easier for Rod ,and for future tutors using the club’s collection of dance books. Thank you Christine. Dancing Lady Home’s Jig at the 2022 Wellington Region New Dancers’ Celebration hosted by Johnsonville – Christine at the left of the front set and Allison at the left of the set at the far right. Photo: Loralee Hyde Kristin Downey7 November 2022 [...] Read more...
Setting the scene Halloween is a well-loved celebration, by dancers and musicians alike, and Rod always brings us a lively selection of dances with supernatural links and atmospheric music. Hall decorations, a bit of ‘dressing up’ and special themed supper offerings all add to the occasion. This year on Monday 31 October, the streets of Khandallah were full of colourfully costumed trick or treaters, putting us in the mood before we even made it through the hall door. A couple even ventured in, and left with a treat or two. Plenty of people arrived in time to join in somewhat random hall-decorating, with an assortment of bats and spiders, ghoulish masks, pumpkin-themed items and orange streamers scattered around the hall walls. Last year’s skeleton costume again took pride of place, though we’d forgotten how we’d cleverly attached it last year, and it did keep peeling itself off the wall (as you’ll notice in some of Loralee’s photos). The new pièce de résistance was a large-scale, long-armed, furry black hanging spider, carefully carried back from Queensland in Rod and Kristin’s hand luggage. Festooned in web, it lurked outside the kitchen hatch. Dances and a little bit of history With the scene set, we took the floor ready for a fun night. Members made a great effort to dress to theme, witch’s hats ruled, masks abounded, there were caped devils and vampires, dancers in black and orange, and many a spider. Our Halloween revellers (with the visiting skeleton looming over us!) Club musician Aileen Logie was joined by Jason Morris, also on accordion, one of the rare occasions when we’ve danced to a 2-box band. Aileen’s enthusiasm for Halloween always brings that Samhain spirit to the night’s music, and off we went. Jason Morris and Aileen Logie brought the spirit of Samhain to the dance The first dance of the night was an easy warm-up dance, which also celebrated a little piece of club history. The Scottish Werewolf is a children’s dance written by former Johnsonville member Denise Sander in the 1970s, in honour of then children’s class tutor Iain Boyd. Dancing The Scottish Werewolf, all dressed-up for Halloween Moving from wicked werewolves to friendly fairies, The Fairy Dance kept us on our toes with fairy circles, first on the ladies’ side and then the men’s. Those fairies are agile little creatures it seems. Next was the Harry Potter-inspired Slytherin’ House, with its two snake passes – somewhat disorientating until you pin down those slithering snake-paths. Rod first taught us this dance at Johnsonville’s first Halloween celebration in 2016, at our then home venue, Johnsonville School hall. The caped devil, Rod, teaching the tricky snake passes of Slytherin’ House Another bit of Johnsonville history – Slytherin’ House deviser Chris Ronald sent Rod the instructions in 2016 when he was looking for suitably themed dances, and that was the first time the dance was done outside Chris Ronald’s home club. There’s no video from our 2016 Halloween, but Pat Reesby videoed club members dancing Slytherin’ House at a Johnsonville Tartan Night in October 2018 at Johnsonville School hall. In the final dance before supper, the devilish details of The Devil’s in the Detail lead me briefly astray, but thankfully supper treats were waiting. Supper and the bard Supper co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan always brings us a supper surprise at Halloween, and this year her party treat was a very cute pegged string of Halloween sweets to choose from. Liz Hands as the other supper-server, made artistic orange iced ‘pumpkin’ biscuits and Oreo bats with beady eyes (to compete with those little plastic rats scattered about the supper bench). Our Halloween Supper treats (along with greedy rats!) prepared by Elizabeth Ngan and Liz Hands Aline the Bard. Photo: Anne Holmstead As we supped, Aline Homes brought us a different sort of treat, introducing story-telling to the supper break. Aline’s life as a Bard began in March this year when she joined the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and began a course of studies. Wreathed in ivy, and reading from her Bard’s book, Aline drew dancers in with her version of the story of The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdui (Am Fear Liath Mòr). Aline composed her story from many sources, including her own unsettling experience on Ben Macdui as the mist came down. (Interestingly, Aileen Logie reports some similarly eerie experiences on the mountain). Later We returned to the dance floor for The Witching Hour by Chicago deviser Sue McKinnell, who loves to write complicated dances. Dancers may recognise her name as deviser of the dance Tinkling Jade, taught by Jeanette when Rod was away. It too has a Wellington connection, being written for ex-Wellington dancer, Xiaowen Yu’s new baby girl, born this year. Although more dancing was planned for the night, a serious medical emergency for one of our members took priority. We are so grateful for the swift response of all those individuals who stepped forward, their actions made the difference in saving a life. Click on the gallery below to see Loralee Hyde and Anne Holmstead’s photos of the night – dancers, supper, band and bard. Kristin Downey3 November 2022 Photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted [...] Read more...
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