Category Archives: Event Reviews 2021

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: 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

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[]

First Tartan Night at Khandallah Town Hall

Our Tartan Night on Monday 19 April was a great ‘first’, and we can only hope all our future tartan nights in our new club home are such tartan-filled, sociable, and fun evenings.

Johnsonville members who can’t make it every week really made the effort to be there for this special occasion – the first Tartan Night we’ve held at Khandallah Town Hall, and the first time we’ve had a live band in the hoose.

A hall filled with tartan including the club’s bunting set the scene for dancing Rosnor Abbey

The hall was delightfully buzzy with six sets plus, Rod at the helm, and lively music from Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris.

Jason, Aileen and Hilary with Rod

Tartan rugs, saltires and some of the club’s tartan bunting brought a festive atmosphere, and the band’s dashing new tartan tabards and vest added extra colour. The lovely ambience of the hall was made even more inviting with the opening up of the adjoining lounge, where dancers could sit and chat.

Rod designed the programme to suit new dancers, and it was a pleasure to see Johnsonville new dancers doing so well, and to welcome one of Capital City’s new dancers amongst our eight guests. It always adds so much to the night to have dancers from other clubs join us.

Rosnor Abbey was the first dance on the programme, and those oft-forgotten rights and lefts at the end had us laughing from the beginning! It seems no matter how often we practise, and how often we remind ourselves, we do as the music tells us, and are ready to start again without those rights and lefts.

Our sanitiser-volunteers worked hard circulating between dances to keep our hands covid-hygienic, thank you all. Whenever I needed hand sanitiser, I had only to look around and there was a bottle approaching.

With four more dances under the belt, and great toe-tapping music to inspire us, we danced The Reel of the 51st to lead us into supper, and what a supper it was. Club members excelled themselves with delicious supper dishes, and Elizabeth Ngan and the supper team made it all look seamless – despite this being the first time they’d organised supper in the new venue.

A high-spirited The Reel of the 51st led us into our excellent supper

Since we can’t set up supper tables in the hall while we’re dancing, the team had a great tea-trolley storage system set up in the kitchen. When the time came, team members trundled out trolley loads of food, transferred it all to tartan-clothed tables, and had the tea and coffee ready to roll.

After a very sociable, chatty supper, we were ready for the last four dances on the programme.

For our new dancers, this was not only their first Tartan Night, but their first opportunity to be there at the end of the night, as we finished with club favourite The De’il Amang the Tailors.

We’re still feeling our way as to how we set up the hall for Tartan Nights, and have to be quite organised to get it all done in the short window between Pilates finishing and our start time.

Many thanks to all those who contributed to making the evening run so smoothly. The many volunteers at the beginning for set-up and at the end for pack-up, turned their hand to whatever was needed. Many people also gave their help in the kitchen. Altogether it was a great team effort, with new and long-standing members working together.

We’ll be passing on the club’s special thanks to the Pilates class and teacher, who generously let us come into the hall the minute they’d finished, and while the teacher was still packing up her gear.

All in all another fine night’s dancing, and another successful ‘first’ achieved at the club’s new home venue.

See more of Loralee Hyde’s photos here

Watch Aline Homes’ videos
Rosnor Abbey
Mr Michael Bear’s Reel
The Coleraine Rant (see more about Rod’s dance here)

President: Kristin Downey

Kristin Downey
22 April 2021

Easter School 2021 in the South

Johnsonville Club Secretary Robert Vale attended the 2021 Easter School, organised by Quentin Currall and the Lawrence Scottish Country Dance Group in the goldfields town of Lawrence down in South Otago.

Robert and Brenda Vale at the left dancing at the Easter School. Photo from Otago Daily Times video

See what Robert has to say about the delights of dancing in South Otago below.

The School kicked off on Good Friday evening with an enjoyable social dance in nearby Waitahuna.

Friday evening social dance in Waitahuna War Memorial Hall. Photo: Robert Vale

Classes began the next morning, from 9:00 to 12:00, with two to choose from, Development or Further Development. I chose the latter, which was taught by our own Jeanette Watson.

Free time after classes was a chance to enjoy the local delicacy of a South Island cheese roll before the evening’s Formal Dance in the very grand Coronation Hall in Milton, on SH1 about half an hour from Lawrence. All the dances were walked so it was less scary than it might have been.

A delectable South Island cheese roll. Photo: Robert Vale
Saturday evening formal dance in Coronation Hall, Milton. Photo: Robert Vale

On Easter Sunday there was time to explore the delights of Lawrence in the wonderful warm weather, before classes in the afternoon, followed by a dinner and Ceilidh in Beaumont, where we were advised to avoid flushing the loos in the hall so as not to overload the septic tank – ah, rural life.

Finally Monday morning featured a Combined Class for the whole group back in the big hall in Milton before we all set off on our travels. I came away both having had a really good time and feeling I had learned a lot.

Watch a video of the fun, friendship and fitness at Easter School from the Lawrence Scottish Country Dance Group
See an Otago Daily Times article and video on how the School exceeded expectations.

Secretary: Robert Vale

Robert Vale
15 April 2021

Celebrating St Patrick’s day 2021

St Patrick would have been proud

Dancers did a great job of wearing green for St Patrick and the Emerald Isle on Monday 15 March. Every shade of green was on show, and if you looked closely, there were shamrocks and celtic knots and symbols to be found on T-shirts, socks and silver.

Wearing green and having lots of fun while dancing A Trip to Ireland

Rod’s programme inspired great music from musician Aileen Logie, and we definitely had a night of ‘fun, fitness and friendship’, with a few challenges thrown in!

Aileen played wonderful sets of tunes for us to dance to, including The Reconciliation, a different tune to play

We began with A Trip to Ireland, then two RSCDS dances The Wild Geese (referencing Irish soldiers) and City of Belfast, as well as Rod’s dance The Coleraine Rant which premiered at the club’s 2019 St Patrick’s day celebration. It honours both the New Zealand wine, and the Irish county of the same name.

In the middle of the first half, we were lucky enough to dance the world premiere of The Parting Glass, newly devised by Rod for 2021’s St Patrick’s Day. It is a dance for everyone, with no difficult formations or footwork, and is named for the wonderful old song tune claimed by both Ireland and Scotland.

Dancing the World Premiere of Rod’s dance, The Parting Glass!

With five dances under the belt, we were ready for supper. Elizabeth Ngan offered a very inviting display of green-themed goodies, with green eggs, popcorn, chuppa chups and feijoas (she always includes something healthy). There were green serviettes and Irish place mats, and Liz Hands served us freshly-baked green cookies with white chocolate, just the thing to give tired minds a boost.

Back on the floor, it was time for the experienced to try out Rory O’More, amid a few tussles with arches and under-the-arm movements. Having fun is what it’s all about, and there was a lot of laughter with this one!

Seeking Irish-themed dances for St Patrick’s Day, Rod came across the jig Paddy in the Car, and strathspey The Orchards of County Armagh. Theywere both new to us, but really enjoyable, and I’m sure dancers would be happy to see them again on another programme.

We finished the night with old favourite The Irish Rover,for those who knew it. A fine finish to a very good night.

This was our first special club night in our new home at Khandallah Town Hall. It was also our first live music night for 2021. It was a beauty, may there be many more like it to come.

See more of this green-themed evening’s fun and laughter in Loralee Hyde’s photos

from Kristin Downey
18 March 2021

Pipes in the Park: A Scottish Country Dancing Connection

Held in brilliant Wellington weather at Waitangi Park on Saturday 27 February, Pipes in the Park was a day of piping, highland dancing, Irish dancing, clan and food stalls – and of course some Scottish Country Dancing.

It’s always nice to see Scottish Country Dancing on display, helping add colour to the day and raising our profile. The Scottish Country Dancing demonstration was organised by Elaine Lethbridge (Tawa dancer and teacher of Newtown Juniors), at the request of Pipes in the Park.

Elaine’s volunteers came from Capital City, Kelburn/Lower Hutt, Linden and Tawa, and included dual Capital City/Johnsonville member and tutor Jeanette Watson.

Johnsonville dancer Deborah Shuker was one of a number of Scottish Country Dancing spectators and shared her thoughts and photos for us to enjoy – see her story below.

Member of many years Laurence Black, and partner and past member Maddy Schafer were also there soaking up the Scottish atmosphere. Despite not dancing with us for quite a few years now, Maddy thoughtfully provided us with this photo.

Scottish Country Dancing with Johnsonville member and tutor Jeanette Watson at the right Photo: Maddy Schafer

Kristin Downey

Deborah Shuker: A feast of things Scottish

At Waitangi Park on a beautiful hot sunny day there was a feast of things Scottish – stalls about clans and kilts, plus crafts, and food (which wasn’t noticeably Scottish).

The earlier items were dancing – Highland dancing by groups from beginners to very experienced and massed groups. Then the Irish dancers the same mixture of abilities but more dances, and different costuming.

The Scottish Country Dancing set danced on the grass as the stage was a bit small for safety. Dancing on grass is difficult but they did a great exhibition, some of which would only be fully appreciated by those who know about timing and covering.

Dancing on the grass in brilliant sunshine. Photo: Deborah Shuker

Having tutors from three clubs in the group leant lots of expertise, and all those kilts gave lots of colour. There were six dances altogether, and I recognised one as Shiftin’ Bobbins, which we often do at club. 1

Recruiting new dancers! Photo: Deborah Shuker

We finished the day watching two Pipe Bands perform, and then headed home for a much-needed cold drink!

Deborah Shuker
11 March 2021

  1. * Elaine Lethbridge advises that other dances done were The Silver Grey, The Hunting Horn, The BarmkinMinister on the Loch, and Pelorus Jack – all done four times through, except strathspeys which were three times through. A mighty fine effort.[]

Robert Vale: Dancing on the Grass (and on the Lino)

From the Dominion to Dundee

When dancing shuts down over the summer, Wellington dancers still enjoy their sport thanks to the annual Dancing on the Grass organised by the Wellington Region of the RSCDS. This takes place on four summer Tuesday evenings on the grass in front of the Old Government Buildings in Lambton Quay.

Before getting on to the dancing, what about the venue?

The building was designed by William Clayton to accommodate all of New Zealand’s public servants. Originally intended to be made of concrete so as to be fireproof, that proved too expensive and so it was constructed all in Kauri instead, made to look as if it was stone, presumably to make the government look solid and dependable. It was, as building projects often are, over budget when completed in 1876.

Surprisingly, for nearly fifty years the building was heated with open fireplaces, but because of its wooden construction, smoking inside was banned right from when it opened, unlike in Wellington’s wooden-bodied trams which even provided smokers with metal plates fixed to the woodwork on which to strike their matches!

Having served the Colony of New Zealand from 1876, the Dominion of New Zealand from 1907 and housing government Ministers until 1921, the Old Government Buildings are now the home of the Faculty of Law of Victoria University.

But what about the dancing?

Dancing is outside (on the grass) in front of the main entrance, so we provide a bit of a spectacle. In previous years tourists on Lambton Quay liked to stand and watch but there weren’t many tourists this year. One night this year one of the bus drivers gave us a toot on the horn and a wave as he drove down towards the city.

Dancing on grass is quite a novel sensation. It’s certainly different than dancing on a flat floor, it’s a bit bumpy and in summer if there’s not been much rain it can be quite firm and scratchy. There’s also a large floodlight sticking out of the grass which you need to look out for when casting behind your line.

 Some people wear their dancing shoes and some like bare feet. There are little acorn-like things hiding in the grass which can give you a nasty surprise in bare feet, like stepping on a piece of the kids’ Lego in the dark.

Dancing on the grass on 2 February. Robert is dancing just to the left of centre (with the statue of Peter Fraser, New Zealand’s Prime Minister from 1940-1949, behind him). Photo from video by Pat Reesby

Each of the four summer dancing sessions is led by a different tutor from one of the Wellington clubs. The dances are usually the fairly familiar ones that appear on many club dance programmes throughout the year although there were a couple of exceptions this year that confused quite a few of us. The tutors generally choose dances that are not too complicated and they’re walked, so it’s all a lot easier than trying to dance from just a briefing.

And what about the Lino?

Well, being Wellington in the summer, it can be wet and it can be cold. This year, for both those reasons, we danced inside for two of the four sessions.

The inside space is the student café of the VUW Law Faculty (it offers a very cheap vegan lunch). The door to the café is round the other side of the building from the grass and the main entrance.

The café is a good sized space with one extra feature, which is the series of columns that hold up the floors above. These are cunningly placed so that you have to dance round them when casting, or dancing a figure-of-eight, which adds to the excitement.

And the flooring in the café is lino, or to give it its proper name, Linoleum, which is made from jute and linseed oil. There’s a fine Scottish connection, as the city of Dundee was famous for “jute, jam and journalism”. Known in the 19th century as Juteopolis it was the centre of the global jute trade. Dundee was also famous for producing Keiller’s marmalade and for still being the home of D C Thomson, the publishers of well-loved comics like The Beano and Scottish cartoon strips The Broons and Oor Wullie.

Dancing on the grass is a great way to enjoy some dancing when clubs are closed for the summer. You get to meet people from other clubs, you might then see them later in the year at a dance. One of the four nights this year was a beautiful warm, still night and it was magical dancing outside as the dusk fell.

There’s also something special about being able to dance right outside the heart of government, just across from the Beehive. This year it felt extra special to be able to dance at all, given the situation in many less fortunate countries.

Being able to dance in front of Parliament (or at least the Beehive) seems so unlike what might be permitted in the UK, the USA or even in Canberra, where the people seem less able to get close to the seat of power.

Robert Vale
13 February 2021