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Bunting Bee, The

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.

Download the instructions to The Bunting Bee in Rod’s The Johnsonville Collection

Members of the Johnsonville ‘bunting bee’ group who made the lovely club bunting in 2013 – Debbie, Deborah, Lee, Joan and Allison. Photo: Pat Reesby
The club bunting in use for the first time at the New Dancers Celebration in October 2013, with Debbie & Lee dancing in the top set along with Shelley, another new dancer at Johnsonville that year. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Dance Scottish Wellington 60th Anniversary Ball

A fine celebration with dining and dancing

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.

Johnsonville dancers looking forward to an evening full of fun and friendship!
First-year dancers Ben and Anna with Kristin and Rod Downey

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.

Past and present Region Committee members including current Johnsonville members Amy Martin, Jeanette Watson, Rod Downey, Désirée Patterson and John Markham

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.

Past and present tutors in the Region including current Johnsonville tutors Jeanette Watson and Rod Downey

Thoughts quickly turned to dancing, starting off with a Grand March led by Piper Nicole Trewavas and directed by Edith.

The Grand March in progress

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.

See all Loralee Hyde’s photos of this fabulous evening (and download if you wish)

Thanks to Pat Reesby for these videos:
The Grand March
The Flowering Heather
Andrew’s Dance
Autumn Tidings

Loralee Hyde
11 August 2021

Loralee Hyde: Fun and Friendship at Wellington Region Events through the 1990s

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.

1991 Happyning

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.

See more about this event in reviews from three dancers in this article from Harbour City Happenings, Issue 2, July 1991

Current Johnsonville dancer Loralee Hyde in the centre of the set dancing in the Region Demonstration at the 1991 Happyning with former club members Brian Richards and David Holland to her left and Margaret Allison (Bailey) at her right. Other dancers in the set are Bruce at the far left and Margaret at the right.

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.

Find out more about this magnificent weekend from three dancers in this article from Harbour City Happenings, Issue 7, July 1992

In their finery at the 1992 Easter Weekend School 18th Century Ball – Johnsonville members Kristin & Rod Downey and Loralee Hyde, with former members Margaret Holland and Jenny Vaughan.
The organising committee of Kath and Alan Burn, Val Jenness, Eric Churton, Betty Redfearn and Damon Collin. Bewigged, in brocade coats and bustles, the group danced a memorable demonstration of the Lancers Quadrille.

“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.

See a summary of all the activities at this event in this article from NZ Dancer, Volume 40, 1993

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.

Wellington Tutors at the 1993 Region Top Event

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

Johnsonville members who enjoyed the festivities at the 1993 Top Event included Life Members Isla & Eric Norris and John and Aline Homes

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

Find out more about this weekend in Carol’s article from Harbour City Happenings Issue 16, May 1994

Johnsonville members Rod Downey, Loralee Hyde and Kristin Downey with former member Richard Moriarty dancing in the Region Demonstration at the 1994 Anzac Weekend School. Other dancers are Chris Kelly, Janice Henson and Kath McCulloch.

Tutored by Barbara Gill, the demonstration group danced Argyll Strathspey, Mrs Stewart’s Jig, and The Rose of Glamis.

Watch a video of this demonstration

1998 Anzac Weekend School

Organised by Carol Smith and held at Onslow College, one of the teachers at this school was Johnsonville tutor Marjorie Crawford.

See photos of the Saturday evening ball with MC Gary Morris and the class teachers in this extract from Harbour City Happenings Volume 1, No.3 July 1998

Johnsonville members Jeanette Watson, Loralee Hyde and Rod Downey with former club member Philippa Pointon dancing in the Region Demonstration at the 1998 Anzac Weekend School. The other dancers in the set are Graham Kerr and Chris Kelly.
Wellington Region JAMS Celia, Bevan and Jennifer were also part of the demonstration

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!

Kristin Downey at the 1998 Butterfly Ball with Carlton the ladybird and Alex the bug-catcher!
Many creatures crept, hopped or ran to the ball – with Alex the bug-catcher in the centre of this set!
The magical band – Lynne Scott, Iain Matcham, John Smith and Peter Elmes – with MC Damon Collin. Photo: NZ Dancer, Volume 46, 1999

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.

Loralee Hyde
5 August 2021

All photos by Loralee Hyde, except where stated

Loralee Hyde: A Wintery Weekend in Hanmer Springs

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!

A hall filled with keen dancers on Saturday morning!

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.

Loralee (centre) catching up with Christine and Robyn from Lochiel Club in Hamilton, who she danced with when she started dancing over 45 years ago!

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.

Reasonably well-known dances Ruth took us through included The College Hornpipe, The Triumph and Old Nick’s Lumber Room.

To learn and hone formations we don’t often encounter, we met the challenges of Asilomar Celebration (En Rond) and Argyll Strathspey (Tournée).

Tutor Ruth Budden (centre right) emphasising the position of hands in a circle while teaching Argyll Strathspey

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.

MC’d by Graeme Plank (who visited Johnsonville Club in 2017), and with a programme of popular dances, the social dance on Saturday evening was another opportunity for more fun, laughter and friendship. Dancers flocked on to the floor for favourites such as The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Best Set in the Hall and Scott Meikle.

Dancing Best Set in the Hall, always a popular dance
Loralee dancing at the Saturday night social Photo: Kirsty Prentice

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.

Tartan Dolls and Tea Towels from Picton

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.

Iain Matcham and Jason Morris playing for the class on Saturday afternoon

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.

Hanmer was a delightful location for the school – with this fabulous outlook over the Southern Alps and restorative hot pools!

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.

Loralee Hyde
28 July 2021

Photos: Loralee Hyde

July Tartan Night: A Cold Night, a Warm Hall

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!

John and Aline Homes, the Club’s stargazers, dancing Rod’s dance Stargazers. Photo: Robert Vale

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.

Decorated with tartan, Khandallah Town Hall was filled with dancers. Photo: John Patterson

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.

See more photos from John Patterson and Robert Vale

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos
The Merry Lads of Ayr
Stargazers

Watch Aline Homes’ videos
The Kissing Bridge
The Library of Birmingham
The Luckenbooth Brooch

Kristin Downey
15 July 2021

Loralee Hyde: Memories of Bernice Kelly

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 newsletter Harbour 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.

2006: First Foot Selwyn Ng, Margaret Bailey, President Bernice Kelly and Piper Ross Edwards

See more photos of the 2006 Hogmanay

2008 Wellington Region Hogmanay

Also held at Onslow College, the 2008 Wellington Region Hogmanay was organised by Bob Monks and his committee. Johnsonville tutor Rod Downey MC’ed the evening and Selwyn was again First Foot.

2008: First Foot Selwyn Ng, Piper Ross Edwards and President Bernice Kelly

Read more about the 2008 Hogmanay celebration

2010 Good Neighbours (Guid Nychburris) Festival

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.

2010: MC Diane Bradshaw (left) and President Bernice Kelly (right) presenting Festival Queen Dorothy Warring to the assembled dancers who entered into the spirit of the evening by bowing or curtseying as she passed

Find out more about the fun of this unique Region Event in 2010

2010 Wellington Region Hogmanay

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.

2010: Acting President Bernice Kelly, Piper Ross Edwards, MC Rod Downey and First Foot Chris Totton

See more photos of the 2010 Hogmanay

2013 New Dancers’ Celebration

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!

2013: Bernice dancing hands across in the top set

See more photos of the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration

2016 Wellington Region Hogmanay

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.

2016: Bernice welcoming First Foot Selwyn Ng and Piper Doug Sinclair

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!

Loralee Hyde
16 June 2021

Mid-Winter Christmas Celebrations 2021

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.

Our jolly band of Christmas merrymakers! Photo: Loralee Hyde

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.

Liz – a Christmas tree festooned with lights! Photo: Loralee Hyde

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.

Dancing Waltz of the Christmas Bells amidst festive Christmas decorations. Photo: John Patterson

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).

Forming Christmas tree shapes in the strathspey Christmas at Bleecker, dancing in 3-couple triangular sets. Photo: Loralee Hyde

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.

We also owe our thanks to all those who took photographs on Saturday night, giving us a permanent record of the night’s celebrations. Take a look at the array of photos from Loralee Hyde, John Patterson, Robert Vale and Maggie Boag

Kristin Downey
27 May 2021

Ngaio Club: Celebrating 50 years of dancing

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!

Sets filled the floor at the Ngaio Town Hall to celebrate Ngaio’s 50th, including Elena from Johnsonville at the left enjoying Scott Meikle

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.

A number of Johnsonville Club members were at the dinner as they also belong to Ngaio Club – Ngaio Secretary Moira Scott, Elizabeth Ngan, Moira Broughton, John Markham, Wendy Donald, and Fiona and Bruce Jones. Proof of one of the advantages of dancing at a second club!

From the left, Johnsonville members Fiona, Wendy and Elizabeth joined other Ngaio current and past members at the celebratory dinner

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.

Jason, Aileen and Hilary played toe-tapping music throughout the evening, getting dancers on to the floor

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

Johnsonville’s Robert Vale with Brenda enjoying Salute to Summer by Marie Malcolm

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.

Dancing The Reverend John Macfarlane by Gary Morris – Johnsonville dancers in view include Charles, Tomoko, Prisilla, Maureen, Fiona and Désirée

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.

Gary Morris and Dame Margaret Sparrow cutting the 50 years celebratory cake

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.

Johnsonville members dancing the world premiere of Ngaio Gold included (in view) Elena, Tomoko, Jeanette, Maureen, Prisilla and Moira

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!

Click here to see more of Loralee’s photos

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos:
The De’il Amang the Tailors
Ngaio Gold

Loralee Hyde

Loralee Hyde
Ngaio member 1990-1992
12 May 2021

  1. See a tribute to Marie from Dame Margaret Sparrow, Harbour City Happenings, Volume 14 No. 1, May 2011[]
  2. Download the instructions for Ngaio Gold[]
  3. Watch Pat Reesby’s video of the dance to hear Aileen’s tune[]