Glendarroch Annual Dance: A social weekend

The Glendarroch Scottish Country Dance Club are based in Whanganui, their Annual Dance is a perfect opportunity for a weekend break. It’s an afternoon dance so there is time to get from Wellington in the morning, non-stop it is two hours and 20 minutes or so. Back in the day you could have gone by train but that’s no longer an option.

Whanganui is a very attractive city with a lively feel and some wonderful old buildings, many of which have been restored and put to new uses. Along with Cape Town, Bilbao, Singapore, Berlin and Bangkok it has been designated a UNESCO City of Design.

But enough of design, what about the dancing? On Saturday 24 September, the Glendarroch dance was held in the Carlton School Hall, in Carlton Avenue. The music was by the Scottish Saltire Band from Wellington, decorating the stage with the Saltire of Scotland displayed prominently on their music stands. The hall was full of school decorations, flags of many nations and the House Shield, which sounds like something out of Harry Potter.

Dancing to the music of the Scottish Saltire Band at the Glendarroch Annual Dance. Photo: Robert Vale

The dancing began at 2pm with at least five sets on the floor. Several people had come from Wellington to join the fun, including four from Johnsonville. There were quite a few from the Tawa club, Tawa  have a tradition of attending Glendarroch’s dance and booking in at a motel together, where they meet up afterwards to chat.

Désirée at the right, one of the Johnsonville members at the dance. Photo: Robert Vale

We were kept pretty busy at the dance, there were eleven dances in the first part, followed by seven in the second. Quite a few of them were dances we had done over the past year or so at Johnsonville club nights. There was a break for conversation and catching up between the two lots of dancing.

Robert (centre) with the Whanganui tram. Photo: Dora Koleff

Only at the very end was the tea brought out, and very welcome it was. There was heaps of food, I heard they had provided extra as they knew that people were coming from Wellington for the dance.

The next day the dancers who had not headed home were able to have a ride on one of Whanganui’s former electric trams, which operates on Sunday afternoons on a short track down by the river.

I’m a tram driver (officially called a Motorman) at the Wellington Tramway Museum out in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paekākāriki, so I was allowed to drive the Whanganui tram with the Wellington dancers as passengers and I got it there and back without breaking anything.

Robert Vale
29 September 2022

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