Autumn dancing at Johnsonville 2018

With a long summer and a surprise early start to winter this year, Johnsonville dancers have been keeping on their toes. Early sessions continued for our 18 new dancers, until mid-May when Rod went overseas for work. Club nights have continued to attract a friendly crowd, and with four to five sets on the floor there have been plenty of experienced dancers to help our new members enjoy building their skills.

As usual, our first Tartan Night of the year gave our beginners the opportunity to put those newfound skills into practice, and they rose to the occasion. It was wonderful to see six sets on the floor having such a great time dancing to lively music by Peter Elmes, Don McKay, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral. (Pictured – some of our newer members).

One of the special things about tartan nights, is welcoming dancers from other clubs. We really appreciated the two sets of visitors who helped make up those six sets – among them previous club secretary John Munro, now a member of Carterton club. It adds so much to the night when dancers from other clubs join in the fun, and is a really nice way of introducing our new members to the wider Scottish country dancing community.

Johnsonville’s mid-winter social dinner and dance enables our new dancers to get to know their fellow club members a bit better. This year, it became a pre-winter event, with the theme of Spring into Autumn – a nod to Spring in Scotland at the same time as celebrating Autumn in New Zealand. Members set the scene dressed in spring flowers, autumnal colours, maypole ribbons and (of course) tartan. We began with mulled wine, and moved on to enjoy an excellent buffet dinner interspersing courses with dances.

The theme gave Rod lots of scope for the dance programme, including Spring Rains and An Autumn Posy. He also devised a dance for the occasion. The Maypole Dance thankfully didn’t actually include ribbons or poles, but it did involve a lot of hilarity and quite a few twists and turns. However, the surprise hit of the night was Victorian Style Morris Dance (pictured) – demonstrated by Kristin and Rod, and energetically taken up with the help of bells, kerchiefs, hand clapping and a great deal of enthusiasm.

With Rod overseas, Johnsonville is now working towards our biggest club event of the year – the annual dance, this year run jointly with Island Bay.  Catherine McCutcheon is at the helm as guest tutor till the end of June, when Jeanette Watson will take over until Rod returns at the beginning of August. Thanks to them both for once more sharing their time, skills, and enthusiasm with the club.

Meanwhile it is good to see both new and longer-standing Johnsonville members getting out and about, attending Region beginner and lower intermediate classes, dancing at other clubs, and attending both live music nights and Saturday night dances.  The more the merrier, especially at this time of year.

By Kristin Downey. Originally published in Harbour City Happenings Volume 21 No. 1 June 2018

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