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Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Summer School 2022-2023

Loralee Hyde: My highlights from a wonderful week of fun and friendship!

Plus a mysterious dancing Unicorn…

This great crowd of dancers at the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Summer School President’s Ball were keen to take to the dance floor after The Grand March. Johnsonville member Jeanette Watson is fourth from the left in the front row – she’s on the RSCDS NZ Branch Management Committee as Education and Training Coordinator. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw

What is Summer School?

In 2019, Johnsonville Club member Désirée Patterson gave this great account of the Summer Schools she had attended, including what is involved during this week of Scottish Country Dancing; the classes, social activities and evening events as well as the fun that is had.

I hadn’t attended a full RSCDS New Zealand Branch Summer School since Wellington in 2007-2008, where I took part in Noeline O’Connor’s Advanced Low Impact Class.

Since that time, I have occasionally enjoyed 3-4 days at Summer Schools over the Hogmanay to President’s Ball period including Masterton in 2017-2018

Johnsonville Club Members at Hogmanay in Masterton 2017-2018 – Alan, Elaine, Désirée, Pat, Janet, Linda and Loralee

The last time I danced at a Summer School was at the Opening Night of the Cambridge Summer School 2019-2020, where I enjoyed catching-up with old friends from around New Zealand and Australia.

At the Cambridge Summer School 2019-2020 – Yvonne Gray (North Shore), Christine Freeman (Melbourne), Loralee (Wellington) and Anne Walker (Perth).

At that time, there were reports of a strange virus spreading throughout China…but little did we know that in less than two months from that Summer School, we would experience a three-year hiatus in getting together again due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

Finally…a RSCDS New Zealand Branch Summer School

Christchurch Region planned New Zealand Branch Summer Schools for 2020-2021 and then for 2021-2022. Sadly, both were cancelled due to the risk of covid.

The Auckland Region took up the gauntlet for Summer School 2022-2023. Would their plans come to fruition? Would dancers from New Zealand and Australia (plus some from the rest of the world) register? Would we finally get-together after three long years?

What a feeling of relief to arrive at The Parnell Hotel in Auckland on 28 December and meet so many happy and excited dancers, ready for a week of Scottish Country Dancing classes, social activities and evening functions.

The dancers were well ready for chatter…and more chatter (often deafening!) as we met up again after so many years; at breakfast, lunch and dinner, on our rides (or walks) to classes, at the afternoon activities and on the buses to the evening dances. And there were plenty of opportunities to make new friends with dancers coming from across the country as well as from Australia, Scotland, USA, Japan and Turkey.

Plus a mysterious Unicorn kept popping up in unexpected places. Adding to the magical world of Scottish Country Dancing perhaps?

The magical Unicorn oversees the information table near the dining room at The Parnell Hotel!

Here are some of my personal highlights of this Summer School.

My class: Something different

The classes to choose from at Summer School ranged from Development to High Energy and Technique. Plus a musicians’ course.

Johnsonville Club member Maureen Sullivan at her class second from the right in the front row, with her tutor Ruth Budden to her right and then musician Sharlene Penman. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw

An innovation this year was an Excursions Group, designed for non-dancers and those who wanted to save their legs for the evening functions. That option definitely suited me!

We were fortunate to have Katharine Hoskyn as our knowledgeable tour guide and driver, with varied outings throughout Auckland including the Auckland Botanic Gardens, Auckland Art Gallery and Auckland Museum (where the current T-Rex skeletons exhibition proved popular).

Usually we tackled a short walk each morning and invariably had coffee together in a café. What fun! With the added bonus of meeting dancers we hadn’t met before and finding out so much about our biggest city.

Excursion Group at the Auckland Botanic Gardens on 29 December: Loralee (Wellington), Malcolm (Canberra), Betty (Hawke’s Bay), Lynne (Bay of Plenty), Katharine (Auckland) and Jeanette (Rotorua)

The Auckland Botanic Gardens is large, covering 64 hectares (158 acres). I chose to find as many sculptures as possible on my walk.

Being an avid bird-lover, Loralee was thrilled to discover a sculpture of a rather over-size pīwakawaka/fantail in the gardens.

Musicians and MCs galore

A feature of this Summer School was the great number of different musicians providing toe-tapping music in the evenings, and the range of dancers giving the briefings. Thank you to all!

With Katharine Hoskyn and Neil Horne MCing, the theme of the Opening Night Social on 28 December was Welcome to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Sharlene Penman, Anne-Marie Forsyth, Lynn Pettit and Margaret Peace of Glenfiddle played wonderful rollicking tunes for us to dance to.

Glenfiddle: Sharlene Penman, Anne-Marie Forsyth, Lynn Pettit and Margaret Peace

The Fantasy Night on 29 December had plenty of magic! For this special evening, the band Thissldhu, usually featuring Clare Simpson and Iain Matcham, turned into Gryffldhu with Iain ‘Hermione’ and Clare ‘Potter’ taking to the stage alongside MCs Philip Oliver and Emma Uren.

The band Gryffldhu, MCs Philip & Emma, Summer School Organiser Liz Hickey…with the magical Unicorn finding out what Scottish Country Dancing is all about

There was plenty of fantastical costumes on show: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Elrond and Galadriel, fairies, elves, the Statue of Liberty…and a ‘real’ unicorn that managed to dance the dolphin reels in Pelorus Jack without colliding with other dancers in the set!

Click on the gallery below to take a look at the array of costumes.

Gryffldhu magically morphed into Jimmydhu for the Barn Dance on 30 December, playing country favourites such as Turkey in the Straw to match the theme. MC Elaine Laidlaw entertained us with wonderful stories about the dances during her briefings.

Jimmydhu: Jimmy Clare and Jimmy Iain
The hall was bathed in orange light which accentuated the colours of the gingham shirts and floral dresses
Loralee at the right dancing The Reel of the Royal Scots. Photo: MIriam Laidlaw
Meanwhile, the Unicorn took time out for a snooze after a big feed of grain in its barn!

Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve is one of the great Scottish Country Dancing occasions. Find out more about the the customs of the evening here

Esther Mackay and Yvonne Gray MC’d this big night while Damon Collin from the Wellington Region led the mighty sing-along of old Scottish songs just before midnight along with his brother Simon and Philip and Helen Oliver.

Aileen Logie and Jason Morris, two Wellingtonians who often play for Johnsonville Club events were joined by Anne-Marie Forsyth in the band. Popular dances (and their tunes) during the evening included Scott Meikle, Catch the Wind and The Montgomeries’ Rant.

Jason Morris, Anne-Marie Forsyth and Aileen Logie played marvellous music all night including for a magnificent 32some Reel. Meanwhile the Unicorn had a bird’s-eye view of the crowded floor from the castle battlements!
Loralee dancing New Year Jig in the top set. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw
Johnsonville Club member Robert Vale dancing The Water of Leith with Brenda
Welcoming in the New Year at the Hogmanay Ceremony: RSCDS NZ Branch President Linda Glavin, First Foot Saskia and Piper Nicole Trewavas. Photo Miriam Laidlaw

Aileen Logie, Jason Morris and Anne-Marie Forsyth played again at the President’s Ball with Debbie Roxburgh as MC. Being a formal evening with drinks with the RSCDS Branch President Linda Glavin to start, followed by a Grand March, the Unicorn shrunk down to a miniature and nestled quietly between the MC’s lectern and the RSCDS Centenary banner all night.

Spot the well-behaved Unicorn! Photo: Miriam Laidlaw
Grand March: Loralee and Aileen Logie met-up in the middle as they formed their two-couple row! Photo: Miriam Laidlaw

The President’s Ball dances and music that appealed included The Sailor, The White Heather Jig (an oldie that’s not danced often enough these days!) and The Gentleman.

Loralee at the right dancing The Gentleman. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw

Glenfiddle together with members from Lynne Scott’s Musicians’ Class (including Lee, Cassandra and Brenda from Wellington) filled the stage on the Closing Night. Their rousing renditions of the music for the programme of dances, briefed by MC Damon Collin, included old favourites Miss Gibson’s Strathspey, Seton’s Ceilidh Band and The Deil Amang the Tailors.

Closing Night: Glenfiddle and members of the Musicians’ Class played wonderful music for the dancers. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw

Tired out after a week of dancing, the Unicorn nodded contentedly in time to the music from the castle on the stage.

Loralee and fellow Johnsonville Club member Robert Vale dancing as fourth couple in Easy Peasy Rights and Lefts, devised by Wellington devisor Gaye Collin.

To finish off a marvellous week, we all took hands and sang Auld Lang Syne, already thinking about meeting old friends and making new ones at the next Summer School in Nelson.

Thanks so much to Liz Hickey and her committee for organising this Summer School in the midst of a pandemic, and to the tutors, musicians, MCs, gophers, drivers, photographers and others who helped make this such a successful get-together.

See all my photos here and feel free to download if you wish.

Loralee Hyde
20 January 2023

All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted

2022 Christmas: Lunch in the sun

Wellington turned on exceptional weather for the club’s 2022 Christmas lunch at Café Thyme on 14 December, and nineteen of us lingered over lunch with the last of us leaving after 3pm!

For the first time since the 2017 Christmas Lunch, we were able to sit outside and enjoy lunch in the open air. Sunhats were the order of the day, and we appropriated two concrete-based sun umbrellas from the other side of the outdoor courtyard – with the help of a burly bystander.

Lots of chatter at our Christmas lunch in the sun

The event was not untouched by Covid. Some of our members were unable to attend due to either having covid, or their family members being affected. The café too was impacted, with both chefs out of action.

I received a text early in the morning to say menu offerings would be limited by lack of kitchen staff. Nevertheless, café workers rallied around and we all had plenty of choice from the ‘starred’ menu options. Many thanks to owner Jackie, and her staff for their fantastic efforts under difficult conditions.

Best dressed for Christmas was Deborah S, with her red and green tartan bow and bauble-earrings, but Mandy’s sparkly sandals came in a close second. There were lots of colourful summer dresses, and a smattering of red and green, while I completely forgot to dress to theme, and my collection of Santa brooches will have to wait till next year for their annual outing.

It was a pleasure to have the time to sit and chat off the dance floor, and learn more about each other. As one of our committee members commented at a recent meeting, “I’m in favour of any opportunity to socialise with fellow club members”, and socialise we did!

Thanks to all the early-birds (David, Liz H, Liz R, Maura and Veronica) who came along to help colonise our tables, and repel occasional attempted boarders. Nice to see two of this year’s new dancers joining us, as well as many of the ‘old hands’.

In fact, all of our longest-standing members from the 1980s were there – Aline and John H, John M, and Liz R. Plus two from the early 90s – Loralee and Kristin. Rod, still a worker for a little longer (despite recently joining the Gold Card club), was the only one who couldn’t be there.

Club photographer Loralee was once again in action recording our happy memories and smiling faces. Click the gallery below to view her colourful photos of this year’s relaxing Christmas lunch.

Kristin Downey
18 December 2022

Tartan and Final Night 2022: A very good night indeed

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 Downey
1 December 2022

All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted

Loralee Hyde: Honorary Life Membership

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.


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 Downey
Club President
28 November 2022

See more about Loralee’s life time of photography

2022 Club Service Awards

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 Downey
    7 November 2022

    Halloween 2022: Bringing in the Samhain spirit

    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).


    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 Downey
    3 November 2022

    Photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted

    Wellington Region New Dancers’ Celebration 2022

    The buzz and excitement of a full hall

    The last New Dancers’ Celebration held in the Wellington Region was a very successful one hosted by Waikanae Club in 2020, complete with piper Nicole Trewavas.

    Unfortunately, the 2021 New Dancers’ Celebration was cancelled due to Covid, a great shame considering all the work that Carterton Club had put into its organisation, and the preparation involved for the Saltire Scottish Dance Band.

    This year it was Johnsonville’s turn to host – the third time since Rod Downey has been tutor. Given the disruptions to dancing over the past three years, invitations were extended to all new dancers who started in 2020, 2021 and 2022 (as opposed to the usual two-year timeframe).

    The buzz

    More than 100 people attended the event on 8 October, including 25 invited new dancers, and the Knox Church Hall in Lower Hutt was alive with dancing, music, and bonhomie. It’s hard to beat the buzz and excitement of a full dance floor, a great band and a programme that everyone can relax and enjoy.

    Over 12 sets of people filled the Knox Church Hall with buzz and excitement

    Amongst the attendees were eight new dancers from Johnsonville (four of whom only started this year), and 23 experienced dancers in support – so nice to see such enthusiasm.

    For longer-standing dancers, walking into a packed hall brought back fond memories of days gone by when club annual dances regularly attracted those sorts of numbers. For newer dancers, it was a chance to realise how far they’ve come, and to be welcomed into the wider Scottish Country Dance community.

    (We also had the added vibe of a very special 80th birthday party celebration finishing up as we began, with music, dance, children and the different colours and sounds of Samoan culture.)


    New Dancers’ Celebration 2022 Programme

    Everything centred around ‘tartan’ at this year’s New Dancers’ Celebration, as befits such a wonderful celebration of the dances of Scotland. The programme, new dancer Invitations and name tags all featured the RSCDS tartan.

    Continuing the tartan theme, Johnsonville’s tartan bunting looked fantastic high up on the white walls, and the stage frontage was decorated with the Wellington Region’s tartan cloth.

    An assortment of colourful tartan rugs and scarves encouraged dancers to enjoy the warm feeling of home and hearth and Scottish hospitality.

    The outfits of musicians Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris (aka Black Tartan), brought even more festive tartan to the night. Aline Homes’ arrangements of greenery and flowers along the stage front made a beautiful setting for them as they made beautiful music for us.

    Jason Morris, Aline Logie and Hilary Ferral playing on the stage with beautiful floral decorations created by Aline and John Homes.

    The night

    MC Rod Downey drew up a programme of easy dances to suit everyone,including some by local Wellington devisers.

    We began with the fun of Noeline O’Connor’s beginners’ dance, The Kingston Flyer. Lots of old and new favourites followed including Sean Truibhas Willichan, Delvine Side and Violynne (one of Rod’s dances).

    Johnsonville dancers were among those enjoying The Kingston Flyer, the first dance.
    Newer and more experienced dancers from Johnsonville joined in the round-the room dance Border Meeting.

    You had only to look across the dance floor of smiling faces and hear the excited chatter, to know how much everyone was enjoying themselves. There were occasional challenges, such as in Lady Home’s Jig, but it is the nature of Scottish Country Dancing to pose challenges.

    Lady Home’s Jig had some interesting connections between formations to master!

    The Reel of the 51st Division made for a fine end to the first half, leading into a very welcome supper. It was such a convivial affair that a little bit of encouragement was needed to get people back on the dance floor.

    Romaine Butterfield’s lovely dance Come What May started the second half, followed by more Johnsonville favourites including Shiftin’ Bobbins, Monymusk and St Andrew’s Fair. The night finished with the exuberance of The De’il Amang the Tailors.

    Remembering our patron Queen Elizabeth

    In memory of HM Queen Elizabeth II, longstanding patron of the RSCDS, Rod changed the advertised programme to include The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

    This dance was written in 1948 to recognise the 1947 marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, who King George VI subsequently named Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh in honour of their wedding.

    The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh – in this six hands round and back, all the dancers are associated with Johnsonville Club including former member Shirley Kalogeropoulos who now dances at Waikanae.
    The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh – plenty of Johnsonville dancers on the floor including MC Rod Downey.

    Rod particularly chose this dance for its New Zealand connection. One of the Scottish devisers, Mrs Florence Lesslie, subsequently settled in New Zealand and was widely recognised as having an enormously beneficial influence on the development of Scottish Country Dancing here.

    Special award

    Kevin & Elaine Lethbridge with her Wellington Region award.

    A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a Wellington Region Certificate of Appreciation to Wellington dancer Elaine Lethbridge for her many years of service to the Region.

    Region President Ann Oliver thanked Elaine for her dedication in teaching the Region’s junior dancers, arranging JAM camps, sitting on the Region committee and supporting region activities in a host of other ways.

    Congratulations Elaine.

    Read the full citation here

    Many thanks to all

    Everyone played their part in ensuring a fantastic night for the Region’s dancers.

    Thanks to Rod as MC, Johnsonville sub-committee members Charles Burden, Maura Beattie and John Markham, with Kristin Downey as organiser, Loralee Hyde on promotional design and photography, and Robert Vale for keeping everyone informed.

    Aline and John Homes once again created beautiful floral arrangements, Veronica Young and David Mackey (and their grandchildren) chopped a lot of delicious fruit salad and Elizabeth Ngan led the supper team.

    More than 20 Johnsonville members lent a hand one way or another on the day, setting up the hall, helping with supper, or packing up at the end. Many thanks to you all.

    Organiser Kristin Downey was one of the many Johnsonville members helping to set up the stage and hall. Photo: John Homes

    Thanks also to the Region committee and to Elaine and Kevin Lethbridge for their support, and finally, thanks to everyone who attended, both new and experienced.

    New dancers from the past few years are especially to be admired for managing to become part of the Scottish Country Dance community, despite all the covid disruptions. They couldn’t have done it without all the tutors and experienced dancers who supported them at club, and joined them on the dance floor on 8 October.

    Take a look at all of Loralee’s photos of this celebratory evening

    The buzz carries on

    It was wonderful to feel the buzz from Saturday night carry over to club night at Johnsonville on Monday 10 October. Any event that keeps you smiling for that long has got to be good!

    Kristin Downey
    11 October 2022

    All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted.

    New Dancers’ Celebration: Johnsonville as host

    Each year it is the turn of one club in the Wellington Region to organise what is the highlight of the Region’s dancing year.

    The 2022 New Dancers’ Celebration is the third hosted by Johnsonville since Rod Downey became tutor. The first was in 2003, and the second in 2013.

    Johnsonville hosts the 2003 New Dancers’ Celebration

    We have documents for earlier and later periods in the club’s history, but we are missing most documents from a period including 2003. We must make do with the New Dancers’ programme of dances, the accounts for the event, and a single paragraph in the 2004 NZ Scottish Country Dancer magazine.

    The 2003 New Dancers’ Celebration was held at Onslow College, a popular venue for large events at the time, taking over from Newlands College.

    It’s interesting to compare door fees. In 2003 they were $10 Adult, $9.00 RSCDS and $4 Juniors. In the last 19 years door charges have risen relatively little, in 2022 they are $16, $13, and $5 with a lower charge of $10 for new dancers.

    Music was provided by longstanding musician Peter Elmes and associates (individual musicians were not listed in those days). We can see that musicians’ rewards have also not risen greatly over the years. In 2003, Peter received $450 for his three-piece band, these days it’s around $600 divided amongst three musicians.

    Musicians John Smith, Peter Elmes and Merren Simmonds had a long association with Johnsonville Club Photo: Loralee Hyde

    The 2003 dance programme listed 20 dances, more than we do these days – perhaps because our population of dancers is a little older. But many of the same dances are on the 2022 programme including perennial favourites Minister on the Loch, The Reel of the 51st, and of course The De’il Amang the Tailors.

    It seems no-one wrote about the event as such at the time. The only written reference I’ve found was in the Wellington Region notes in the 2004 NZ Scottish Country Dancer:

    There was some surprise but delight when Alan Burn (RSCDS NZ Branch Membership Co-ordinator) telephoned to advise that Wellington Region had won the ‘large region’ class of the Branch’s Membership Challenge. Murray Corps (NZ Branch secretary) presented the award to Phyllis Henry the Region Treasurer at the Region’s New Dancers’ Celebration dance hosted by Johnsonville Club.

    The accounts show door takings of $1,040, so at $10 maximum entry fee, there must have been over 100 dancers. This was typical for the times, making for a very special night for all the new dancers that year – including Elizabeth Ngan, our very own Kitchen Faerie.

    Elizabeth Ngan, Johnsonville Club’s Kitchen Faerie. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    And again in 2013

    Johnsonville tutor Rod Downey as MC at the 2003 and 2013 New Dancers’ Celebrations…and again in 2022. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    By the time the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration came around (this time with 18 dances on the programme), things were very different, with records galore.

    Johnsonville Club now had a weekly email newsletter, with no need to rely on paper records.

    Additionally, our photographers/videographers were taking digital photos and video recordings of our events.

    In the Johnsonville Club newsletter of 23 October 2013, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote enthusiastically about the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration held at Newlands Centennial Hall on Saturday 19 October:

    What a wonderful time we had at the New Dancers’ Celebration, with lots of dancers (new and ‘old’) from other clubs. Twelve sets! And special thanks to Debbie and friends who organised the (tartan) bunting. It was much admired and I’ve heard on the grapevine that another (bunting) bee is planned sometime – there are heaps of cut-out pennants left over. The bunting is a wonderful club asset.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve set a trend. Bunting bees may pop up in all sorts of places …

    Johnsonville Club members including new dancers Lee, Debbie and Shelley put up the new club bunting in the Newlands Centennial Hall

    We had a wonderful band for the night – Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie. Lynne says: “I think a lot of people enjoy the sound of the band with the double bass in it. And Richard and Jean are such good musicians! I really enjoy playing with them. Also, I do work quite hard to select and arrange music that suits the shape and formations of the dance, and perhaps that helps underpin the playing. It’s certainly fun!”

    Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    The bunting along the walls at the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration. Debbie, Lee and Shelley who helped at the bunting bee, are dancing in the top set. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Pat goes on to say:

    Loralee Hyde took lots of photos at the dance and has shared them with us. There’s a lovely one which shows at least four of our new dancers.

    Club photographer Loralee Hyde, had been taking photos of dancing since the 1970s. In 2013, armed with a better camera than previously, Loralee recorded many happy memories of the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration.

    The floor was filled with dancers including former Wellington Region President Bernice Kelly (who is no longer with us) at the right. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Loralee has shared all her photos of the night as part of the Wellington Region Celebrating 60 history project. View them here

    Fortuitously, Pat had also just begun her career as a Scottish Country Dance videographer, and filmed some of the dances on the night. Her videos bring back memories of our younger selves and fellow dancers, some who no longer dance, and some who are no longer with us.

    The dances Pat filmed are still new dancer ‘staples’ at Johnsonville. Looking at her videos you can see the capacity crowd filling the hall, and feel the wonderful atmosphere of music and laughter.

    Watch Pat Reesby’s videos of:
    The Kingston Flyer
    The Illabo Rant (and a second time through to accommodate the crowd)
    Violynne (devised by Rod in January 2004)

    You’ll see quite a few children on the dance floor and you may spot some parents swelling the crowd of spectators. It was a pleasure to include the presentation of RSCDS NZ Branch medals to the Region’s junior dancers on the night’s programme, making for lots of energy on the dance floor and an audience who really appreciated the skills and achievements of these young dancers.

    Elaine Lethbridge, teacher of the Region Juniors, and Elaine Laidlaw, RSCDS Wellington Branch President, present RSCDS NZ Branch medals and certificates to the young dancers. Photo: Pat Reesby

    Kristin Downey
    7 October 2022

    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

    Tawa Annual Dance: An evening of vigorous dancing

    Saturday 17 September saw the Tawa Club’s Annual Dance in the spacious Ngaio Town Hall. Over five sets were on the floor with ten Johnsonville members among them. On stage in the band was Johnsonville Club musician Aileen Logie on accordion, along with Hilary Ferral on fiddle and Jason Morris on keyboard.

    The Town Hall, always a good venue for a dance, had been decorated in advance by Tawa members, with a sumptuous display of tartan and greenery across the front of the stage – everyone had raided their gardens. The colour theme was repeated in the bunches of balloons and in the green tablecloths and tartan runners that appeared at supper time. These were made by Tawa tutor Catherine McCutcheon, who MC’d the event.

    Catherine McCutcheon with the magnificent stage drapes she made. The lectern on the left is also draped in the same tartan fabric. Photo: John Patterson
    Johnsonville members dancing the first dance, Anderson’s Rant, included Maureen (with Sandy obscured), Liz, Désirée, Robert, Loralee and Charles. Photo: John Patterson
    MC Catherine McCutcheon with Jason Morris, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral on the beautifully decorated stage. Photo: Robert Vale

    Half way through the first part of the programme we danced the square set Rothesay Rant with its wonderful fairground-style music. This must have been the most popular dance of the night as we got to do it twice.

    Johnsonville dancers were among those enjoying Beach Dancer. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    Johnsonville members Charles and Maureen dancing Beach Dancer. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    Dancing the strathspey Athens of the North. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    Athens of the North; from the book 90 – Twelve anniversary dances celebrating ninety years of the RSCDS Edinburgh Branch. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    The first part finished with the popular classic The Reel of the 51st Division, at which point four tables were carried out into the hall laden with everything possible to sustain and strengthen us after eleven vigorous dances, together with freshly-brewed coffee and tea.

    The second part, a further seven dances (thank goodness for supper) began with Shiftin’ Bobbins and ended with The De’il Amang the Tailors, two old favourites.

    The programme of eighteen dances included six that will be on the programme of the Glendarroch Club’s Annual Dance on the afternoon of Saturday 24 September in Whanganui. It has become something of a tradition for Tawa members to attend the Glendarroch dance and stay there overnight, a chance to have a ride on the restored Whanganui tram on the Sunday.

    Watch Pat Reesby’s videos:
    Granville Market
    Rothesay Rant

    Secretary: Robert Vale

    Robert Vale
    21 September 2022