Devised by Rod Downey on 29 March 2014 as a teaching dance for grand chain.
The name is a tribute to a group of highly energetic 2013 new dancers who organised a ‘bunting bee’ to produce tartan bunting for Johnsonville Club’s hosting of the Wellington Region New Dancers’ Celebration in October 2013.
A merry band of Johnsonville dancers in their finery joined the throng at Lower Hutt Town Hall on Saturday 7 August, looking forward to a fabulous evening of dinner and dancing at the Dance Scottish Wellington 60th Anniversary Ball.
The night commemorated 60 years of the Wellington District Branch of the New Zealand Scottish Country Dance Society, which had its inaugural meeting on 21 November 1961.
Full of cheer, we were welcomed at the door with a complimentary glass of bubbly or orange juice and were provided with a name badge (each produced by Edith Campbell with elegant calligraphy) and a dance card (designed by Loralee) to note our partners for the evening and provide a memory of the event.
Prior to dinner, we had the chance to mingle and catch up with 120 other dancers from around the Region and further afield from the Waikato and Napier in the north to Lawrence and Dunedin in the south. We stepped into the beautifully lit Town Hall and took our places at circular tables (featuring special 60th Anniversary centrepieces, also produced by Edith), in anticipation of the celebratory festivities.
Above the stage, a large screen projected photos of Region dancers and events from the past 60 years. Thanks to Philippa Pointon for producing the slideshow, the photographers who provided their special memories (Loralee, Elizabeth Ferguson, Maureen Robson) and the team who sourced/scanned/edited images from the NZ Dancer (Kristin Downey, john Homes, Peter Warren).
In the foyer, videos of dancers in demonstrations and other events in the Region drew viewers during breaks between the dances and at supper time. There are plans to place both the photo slideshow and links to the videos on the Region website.
A brace of unicorns on the stage invoked some astonishment! How are unicorns connected to Scottish Country Dancing? The unicorn is Scotland’s national animal and represents Scotland in the British Coat of Arms. So the unicorns at the 60th Anniversary provided a link to our dancing heritage.
After a lovely buffet dinner, followed by speeches of welcome from Region President Ann Oliver and Branch President Linda Glavin, we honoured and remembered the contribution of Region presidents and committee members, tutors, musicians and dance devisors who have willingly given their time, energy and talents to Scottish Country Dancing over the decades.
Five Region Past Presidents present at the Anniversary Ball—Philippa Pointon, Roy South, Elaine Laidlaw, Chris Kelly and Melva Waite—joined current President Ann Oliver to cut the 60th Anniversary cake.
Twenty-five past and present Region Committee members then joined Ann, including current Johnsonville members Rod Downey, Jeanette Watson, Désirée Patterson, John Markham and Amy Martin.
We then showed our heartfelt appreciation to nineteen past and present tutors in the Region including current Johnsonville tutors Rod Downey and Jeanette Watson, for their commitment to keeping Scottish Country Dancing alive through clubs, classes, demonstrations and region events.
Thoughts quickly turned to dancing, starting off with a Grand March led by Piper Nicole Trewavas and directed by Edith.
Dancers then took to the floor for the first dance New Year Jig to fabulous music from Wild Heather. Click on the gallery below to see Johnsonville dancers in action throughout the evening.
Considerable work is needed to make sure a large event like this a success. Thanks so much to Region President Ann Oliver and the Region Committee for organising the evening, MC Elaine Laidlaw, who stepped in for Damon Collin (caught in the current Covid lockdown in New South Wales), and Wild Heather for their wonderful music which kept the floor full of dancers all night long—with Mary McDonald and Ann Goodbehere on fiddles, Sharlene Penman on keyboard, Lynne Scott on octave fiddle and James Scott providing technical expertise.
The 60th Anniversary was a fine night of dining and dancing, full of fun and friendship! We can now look forward to more great Wellington Region events in the coming decade.
Johnsonville members are keen participants in a range of Wellington Region events, joining other dancers at weekend schools, balls, Hogmanays, New Dancers Celebrations, demonstrations and classes.
With dancers enjoying the fabulous Wellington Region 60th Anniversary Ball on 7 August 2021, it’s an ideal time to recall the happy memories of Johnsonville members taking part in some of the Region’s events back in the 1990s. Photos from my archives provide a vignette of the marvellous friendship, fitness and fun we had dancing over that decade…which continues on to this day.
This Dinner and Dance at Southwards Car Museum, organised by Bill Hudson and his committee and MC’d by Maureen Robson, was a sociable occasion with many opportunities to mingle and chat with other dancers from around the Region and beyond.
Ian Simmonds tutored the demonstration team who danced to the music of Peter Elmes, John Smith and Merren Simmonds.
“A highlight of the evening was an awe-inspiring demonstration by the six dancers from the Region demonstration team.”
Alan Kemp, Wainuiomata
1992 Easter Weekend School
A highlight of this weekend (the first school attended by our President Kristin Downey and tutor Rod Downey) was the 18th Century Ball on the Saturday night with many dancers attired in marvellous period costumes.
MC’d by Damon Collin and Betty Redfearn, we danced to music from Peter Elmes, John Smith and Merren Simmonds.
“The highlight for me was the Saturday evening 18th Century Ball. This was an event to savour, dancers resplendent in fantastic costumes, and brilliant decorations around the hall.”
Alan Dixon, Doncaster Branch, UK
1993 Top Event
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Branch of the RSCDS in 1993, the Region held a Dinner and Ceilidh at the James Cabaret in Wellington. Organised By Bronwyn Maysmor and her team, the evening had a focus on honouring the Wellington Region teachers for their dedicated work, week after week, year after year.
Twenty-six Wellington Region tutors present at this event were warmly welcomed by Region President Alan Burn with words of appreciation for their commitment to keeping Scottish Country Dancing alive through clubs, classes, demonstrations and region events.
The teachers in the photo above are:
Back row: Iain Boyd, Margaret Laidlaw, Romaine Butterfield, Rita Brennan, Margaret Allison (Bailey), Edith Campbell, Hilda Brodie (Smith), Kath Burn, Maureen Robson, Damon Collin, Dave Macfarlane, Mirth Smallwood, Barbara Gill, Elizabeth Ferguson, Val Jenness, Gary Morris, Marie Malcolm, Alma Secker, Glenys Mills, Noeline O’Connor, Ian Simmonds, Raynor Stratford
Front row: Betty Redfearn, Norm Whitson, Carol Smith, Annette Zuppicich
Dorothy Wilson from Blenheim MC’d the ceilidh programme with items interspersed by dancing – Scottish Country and ballroom. John Smith, Peter Elmes and Merren Simmonds provided the music (they’re on the stage at the rear in the photo above).
1994 Anzac Weekend School
Organised by Johnsonville tutor Marjorie Crawford and her committee, this was one of the biggest weekend schools the Wellington Region had ever had, with almost 200 dancers attending.
“With the band of Peter Elmes, John Smith, Merren Simmonds and Lynne Hudson in superb form, it all made for a happy, relaxed atmosphere and a good time was held by all.”
Carol Smith, Region President and Harbour City Happenings Editor
Tutored by Noeline O’Connor, the team danced Lanes of Au, Land of Cakes and the Eightsome Reel to the music of Peter Elmes, John Smith and Merren Simmonds.
Watch a video of a men’s demonstration set (including Johnsonville’s Rod Downey and former member Richard Moriarty) dancing The Reel of the 51st Division at the 1998 Anzac Weekend School Ceilidh.
1998 Magical Butterfly Ball
Wellington Region held a special evening in October 1998 “for all dancing butterflies, ugly bugs and creepy crawlies” aged up to 19 years old (JAMS). Organised by Bronwyn Maysmor, these young dancers had a magical evening of dancing at this Butterfly Ball!
Remembering these fun-filled events held through the 1990s, we acknowledge and appreciate the considerable work done to make sure each one was an outstanding success. Thank you to all the organising committees, the tutors, the MCs, the musicians and the demonstration teams for their commitment and dedication.
We can look forward to more great Wellington Region events ahead as we celebrate 60 years of dancing this year.
With an outlook over snow-capped mountains and big frosts (-2 degrees on Saturday morning!) followed by clear blue skies, along with streets and shops bedazzled by lights as part of the town’s Alpine Winter Festival, Hanmer Springs was the perfect location for a wintery weekend of Scottish Country Dancing.
Over 90 dancers from Waipu in the north to Dunedin in the south, made the trip to the Nelson/Marlborough Region Weekend School from 23-25 July 2021.
Hanmer is a ‘one dance hall’ town, so with nearly three times the number of registrations than expected, having 10 sets dancing at the Hanmer Memorial Hall was rather cosy—which definitely fitted into the aim of the school being a great social experience!
After months of disruptions throughout 2020 and early 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions, people were keen to dance, catch-up with old friends and make new. Thanks to the work of Doug Mills and the Region Committee, the weekend was a fun-filled and lively gathering.
Ruth Budden did a magnificent job of teaching the large combined class, with dancers having a wide range of experience. She devised a comprehensive programme of interesting and sometimes challenging dances to revise formations, phrasing and covering—along with emphasising dancing as a team and acknowledging other dancers with eye contact, which all adds to the social aspect of dancing.
Two dances in particular, provided me with proof Scottish Country Dancing is a great help in building and maintaining the fitness of both body and brain!
During Sir Murdoch MacDonald’s Strathspey, which contains setting and crossing diagonally, a double wheel and an arch, it was essential to remember at all times both who your partner is and your position in the set!
Whereas Burnaby at Forty (an 80 bar square set strathspey), introduced both the Glasgow Highlanders setting step and Schiehallion Reels to many. After much concentrating and practicing, the smiles and laughter emanating from the sets following their achievement of this intricate dance was a highlight of the school.
At the social, we enjoyed a number of short items. One by a group called Tartan Dolls and Tea Towels from Picton, caught the eye. The dancers held small knitted dolls embellished with tartan including bagpipes! They proceeded to throw the dolls to each other during the dance, showing great balance and focus. The club decorates their hall with the dolls and tea towels at events, which inspired the dance.
It wouldn’t be Scottish Country Dancing without great toe-tapping music. Throughout the school at the classes and social, two Wellingtonians who’ve been in bands for events organised by Johnsonville Club—Jason Morris and Iain Matcham—played spirited and lively music on the keyboard and fiddle which inspired us to take to the floor. With dancing on Saturday morning, afternoon and evening and on Sunday morning, it was a large programme of music for them to organise and practise.
With all that dancing, muscles got tired and sore. A marvellous way to recuperate was to soak at the Hanmer Hot Springs just across the road from the hall. This large complex has many different types of pools set amongst beautiful landscaping and native vegetation. My legs very much appreciated the water jets massaging my calves and Achilles in an aquatherapy pool and then a long sojourn in a mineral pool.
Thanks so much to Doug, the Region Committee, Ruth, Graeme, Jason and Iain for their hard work in preparing for and running this weekend school. Their commitment meant the aim for the school was met; a fabulous social and relaxing weekend of Scottish Country Dancing and music in the middle of winter in a beautiful region.
Although we set dates for our club events well in advance, we’re getting used to them slip-sliding away from us due to Covid. So it was a pleasure (and a relief) to be able to hold our cancelled June Tartan Night on Monday 12 July.
We were sorry to lose Sharlene Penman from the original band line-up, but Lynne Scott brought together a fine band for us. Many thanks to Lynne, Mary McDonald, Jason Morris and Richard Hardie who made themselves available, and gave us a great night’s music.
Thanks to Rod, our tutor and MC, who prepared us all so well and brought his usual bonhomie to the occasion. One advantage of the date-slippage was an extra week’s practise, so it wasn’t all bad news.
It was a cold night (3 degrees outside when we arrived!), but after our standard warm-up, followed by Galloway House and round-the-room dance The Campbells are Coming, we were well warmed and set for a night of dancing fun.
The highlight dance of the first half was Stargazers, devised in 2007 by Rod for Aline and John Homes, who spend many a clear night gazing at the stars. It turned out it was only the second time that Aline and John had danced it together, since first being presented with the dance 14 years ago!
After a hearty supper, and lots of chit chat, we moved on to the second half, and the challenge of The Library of Birmingham!! In the end, all our practise paid off, the challenge was accepted, and we held it together.
A Tartan Night is full of music, dancing fun and challenges, but there’s also the tartan adding an extra element. It’s exciting to be surrounded by colourful tartan, with kilts and sashes flying around the dance floor – it lifts the spirits and brings dancing feet to life.
Thanks to all who wore tartan, helped with setup, supper, and pack-up, wielded the Covid-required hand sanitiser, or just came along and danced. It was a great night.
Thanks also to the eleven dancers who joined us from Capital City, Lower Hutt, Ngaio and Tawa clubs for bringing their dancing feet to the lovely Khandallah Town Hall dance floor. It made the night even more special.
Bernice’s close connections with Johnsonville dancers
Bernice Kelly, President of the RSCDS Wellington Region from 2005-2010, died on 6 June 2021 at the age of 87 years.
I was Editor of Wellington Region’s quarterly newsletterHarbour City Happenings from 2008-2014. During the cross-over period in our roles, I got to know Bernice as we worked together on the newsletter. I remember she did not use a computer, so she typed her column for each issue, which arrived punctually in the post for me to transcribe and place into the newsletter layout!
Following her election as President at the Region AGM in November 2005, Bernice mentioned in her first President’s column in the February 2006 Harbour City Happenings she had danced for 30-plus years in Wellington and had been on the Region Committee several times.
Bernice developed many friendships over her years of dancing and through her regular attendance as President at Region events such as Hogmanays and New Dancers’ Celebrations.
Members of Johnsonville Club had a close association with Bernice during her time as President, either through helping to organise Region events or dancing at them.
As a photographer, the photos I took at a number of these events provide a wonderful visual history of the people Bernice was involved with in Scottish Country Dancing in Wellington over the years and a snapshot of the fun and friendship this activity generates.
2006 Wellington Region Hogmanay
At the 2006 Wellington Region Hogmanay, organised by John Gregory and his committee in the Onslow College Hall, Selwyn Ng (Johnsonville member from 2006-2009) was First Foot during the ceremony to welcome in the New Year. This was his and Joanne Ang‘s (Johnsonville Treasurer 2009) first experience of Hogmanay.
After Selwyn, carrying a lump of coal (for warmth), black bun (for sustenance) and whisky (water of life), was piped into the hall by Ross Edwards, Bernice as President raised a toast to the RSCDS Wellington Region, as is the custom.
Diane Bradshaw and the Upper Hutt Club organised the 2010 Wellington Region event, the Good Neighbours (Guid Nychburris) Festival, at Knox Church Hall in Lower Hutt. Six local teachers were invited to teach dances they had devised—Rod Downey and Jeanette Watson from Johnsonville, Iain Boyd, Romaine Butterfield, Catherine Edwards and Ian Simmonds.
Rod taught Isla’s Fancy, written for Eric Norris on his 90th birthday in 2001. Rod chose this dance as 2010 was the year both Eric and Isla (who were Life Members of Johnsonville Club) died, aged 98 and 97 respectively.
Inspired by the Good Neighbours Festival in Dumfries in Scotland which appoints a ‘Queen of the South’, the Festival organisers selected a ‘Queen of Wellington’ by drawing a name out of a sparkling top hat. Bernice as Region President, presented Dorothy Warring from Island Bay Club (now Capital City) with a royal blue sash and tiara, fit for the occasion.
After five years as Region President, Bernice stood down at the AGM in 2010. She said In Harbour City Happenings, “I wish to thank the dancers in the Wellington Region for their help during that time to organise the Region’s activities: classes, the New Dancers’ Celebration, the Region Event, Hogmanay Dance and fundraising events. The welcome, hospitality and friendship extended to me by all Clubs has been much appreciated. I look forward to seeing you all at dances during 2011, albeit from the bottom of the set!”
Just one month later, Bernice acted as President at the 2010 Wellington Region Hogmanay in the absence of then Region President Elaine Laidlaw. Held at the Newlands Centennial Hall, this celebration was organised by Rod and Kristin Downey, Prisilla Conroy, Bob Monks, Catherine MacAulay and Jean Denne (all Johnsonville members at the time) with help from John Markham, John Gregory and Bernice herself.
In the following years, Bernice continued to attend Region events as a dancer.
The 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration was organised by Johnsonville Club at the Newlands Centennial Hall with tutor Rod Downey as MC.
Former member Pat Reesby was Club Secretary in those days and produced the Johnsonville Club newsletter. On 23 October 2013, Pat wrote:
“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 bunting. It was much admired…”
The hall was crowded with dancers including a great contingent of new members from Johnsonville enjoying their first formal dance. I was fortunate Bernice was in the top set for one dance so I was able to get some great photos of her dancing at the age of 79—Scottish Country Dancing is truly for all ages!
I took my final photo of Bernice celebrating with the Wellington Scottish Country Dancing family at the 2016 Wellington Region Hogmanay organised by John Gregory and team at the Crofton Downs School Hall. She spent much of the evening catching up with old acquaintances including those of us from Johnsonville.
We remember Bernice for her enjoyment of Scottish Country Dancing and her connections with fellow dancers as well as for her dedication to her role during her five years as Wellington Region President.
A favourite memory of mine is Bernice dancing in bright blue or red shoes—take a closer look at some of the photos above!
Planning for our club’s mid-year social in 2020 was cast into disarray by Covid lockdown, then displaced by the Covid-driven re-scheduling of our annual dance, finally being held at the end of November as our colourful Spring Fling!
This year it all turned out the way it should on Saturday 22 May. Just as the weather turned cold, a jolly band of Johnsonville dancers and family members came together for Mid-Winter Christmas merry-making.
Forty of us mingled to begin, enjoying Allison’s mulled wine and Christmas mince pies (or fruit punch and gluten free berry bites, as the case may be). It was a great opportunity to chat, and admire each other’s Christmas-costuming, as well as the festive tartan rugs, Christmas tea-towels, Santa hats and tinsel decorating the hall.
Everyone really got into the theme of dressing for mid-winter Christmas, wearing red and green, Santa hats and tartan, as well as re-purposed Christmas decorations. Well done all!
The standouts for me were Liz Hands as a Christmas tree (so much work in that costume), and Robert Vale in his father’s amazing old Canadian winter coat trimmed with wolf fur.
Fuelled by mince pies and mulled wine, we moved onto the dance floor for Waltz of the (Christmas) Bells – to the first of many tracks from the club’s newest music CD, Scottish Christmas Dance Party by Jim Lindsay. Then it was time for dinner.
This was the first time we’d used Food Envy as our caterer, so organisers weren’t quite sure how it would all work out, but we needn’t have worried. Fabulous fresh salads, plenty of braised beef and Moroccan chicken, and mountains of roast potatoes made for a feast. Vegetarians were also well catered for.
Dinner done, and Rod had us back on the dance floor. His time searching out Christmas-themed dances was well spent. He had plenty of fun dances on tap, starting with Canadian (Christmas) Barn Dance, followed by a couple of Scottish Gountry dances Hollin Buss (Holly Bush) and Christmas at Bleecker (very symbolic with those shapes of Christmas trees, baubles, stars etc).
After one more dance (A Christmas Ceilidh), and with our dinner at least partially digested, we’d earned dessert. Warming rhubarb and strawberry crumble, delicious chocolate brownie, and fresh fruit salad really hit the spot, and somehow we were ready to dance again.
The last bracket of dances started with old favourite St Bernard’s Waltz, then two more Scottish country dances – It’s Nearly Christmas and A Turkey Trot. Thanks to Rod for bringing us such a lot of fun on the dance floor.
Thanks also to organisers Allison and Kristin, to the kitchen team of Allison and Maureen, ably assisted by Kat and young helpers Sylvia and Zoe. And we couldn’t have done it without all the volunteers who helped with hall set-up and pack-up, carrying gear and refilling water jugs. A great team effort made for a great night.
The first big event on the Wellington Region 2021 dancing calendar, Ngaio Scottish Country Dance Club’s dinner and dance celebration of 50 years of dancing on 8 May, was a resounding success!
Ngaio is proud to have achieved the golden milestone of dancing for 50 years since the club was formed in 1971. To acknowledge the support of those who were involved with the club over the years, the evening started off with a celebratory dinner at the Ngaio Scout Hall for current and past members. What a wonderful occasion to catch-up with old friends!
As guests arrived at the hall decorated throughout with gold, they were greeted by Ngaio President Andrea Lynch and offered drinks by bartender Pat Waite, dressed for the part.
The excited laughter and chatter increased as more guests arrived.
A number of Past Presidents of Ngaio were welcomed to the gathering including Nicky Sinclair, Margaret Pitt, Shirley Kalogeropoulos, John Markham, Helen Rowe and Dame Margaret Sparrow.
Former members of Johnsonville, Shirley, Pat Reesby and Joan Clayton also enjoyed the festivities.
A photographic history of the club was on display, drawing in guests who pored over the albums, exclaiming in delight at memories of past social occasions and dances.
Guests were invited to enjoy a wonderful buffet dinner of beef, salmon, chicken and salads prepared by a Save the Children local group as a fundraiser, followed by a selection of delicious desserts. All aimed to fortify those going on for an evening of dancing at the club’s annual dance in Ngaio Town Hall.
A further contingent of Johnsonville dancers joined others flocking in from around the region to the dance.
To lively music from Jason Morris, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral, 10 sets of dancers filled the floor for the first dance Salute to Summer, devised by Marie Malcolm, founder and long-time tutor of Ngaio Club.1
As the evening progressed, MC Melva Waite gave us snippets of the club’s history since Marie formed the club 50 years ago in 1971 and explained the reasons for some of the dances being on the evening’s programme.
Marie supported and mentored Maureen Robson and Philippa Pointon as they went through the process of becoming certificated teachers. The second dance on the programme, New Year Jig, was devised by Maureen. Unfortunately, Philippa was unable to attend the 50th celebration.
From 1983 to 1998, Gary Morris assisted Marie with teaching at Ngaio. His dance, The Reverend John Macfarlane, was one of the reels featured in the first half of the programme.
Three of Marie’s favourite dances also proved popular with dancers on the night; The Minister on the Loch, The De’il Amang the Tailors and Mairi’s Wedding.
One highlight of the evening was Doug Sinclair piping in a celebratory cake carried by Margaret Pitt who has danced at Ngaio for 38 consecutive years. She also made the cake!
Gary Morris and Dame Margaret Sparrow (both Life Members of Ngaio Club) proceeded to cut the cake to acclaim.
Following an abundant supper, Melva described how a 3-couple strathspey was devised for the club’s 30th anniversary, then a 4-couple strathspey for the 40th.
To mark 50 years of dancing, Melva devised a 5-couple strathspey called Ngaio Gold.2
For this special occasion, accordionist Aileen Logie composed a tune, also called Ngaio Gold, for the dance. This was played as the first of the four tunes in the set.3
Three 5-couple sets took to the floor to dance the world premiere of Ngaio Gold. A fitting way to commemorate the club’s 50th anniversary.
Thanks so much to Andrea, Melva, Moira and their team for organising such a superb dinner and dance to celebrate 50 years of dancing. A night to remember with many new memories of fun and friendship made!