Category Archives: Event Reviews 2021

Wellington Region Hogmanay 2021

On a warm Wellington evening, dancers from around the Region (including a great contingent from Johnsonville) and from further afield welcomed in the New Year at the Wellington Region Hogmanay on 31 December in Lower Hutt.

Charles and Maura dancing the jig Ecclefechan Feline (this was Maura’s first ever Hogmanay!)

Thanks to Elaine and Michael Laidlaw and their team for organising this great social event after another challenging year with dancing constantly disrupted by Covid lockdowns and restrictions. There was a general feeling of relief that we could celebrate Hogmanay together when others around the world are, yet again, subject to restraints due to the latest Covid variant.

We welcomed RSCDS New Zealand Branch President Linda Glavin, Vice President Debbie Roxburgh with Paul, Communication and Publicity and Membership Coordinator Sue Lindsay and Youth Coordinator Nicole Trewavas. Others from outside the Region included Sue and Ian Pearson from Whanganui along with Doug Mills and Lynda Aitchison from Marlborough.

Thank you to MC Damon Collin for leading us through the dances during the evening—and for sharing points about some of the more unusual dance origins or names such as Ecclefechan Feline!

Robert and Liz leading down the middle while dancing Ecclefechan Feline

We danced the night away to lively music from the band led by Aileen Logie on the accordion with Jason Morris (keyboard), Hilary Ferral (fiddle) and Terry Bradshaw (drums).

Terry, Jason, Aileen and Hilary playing for the dance The Captain’s House

One toe-tapping tune that particularly appealed to the dancers was The Magic of Merrill (The Reel of Seven) played for The Amateur Epidemiologist which was devised by Wellingtonian Andrew Oliver. This dance is included in the Wellington Region Covid-19 Collection

Dancing The Amateur Epidemiologist with devisor Andrew Oliver in the set on the right setting to his second corner

Popular dances included Scott Meikle, The Water of Leith and Violynne (devised by Johnsonville tutor Rod Downey). The more experienced dancers took up the challenge of dancing The Flower of Glasgow and The Aviator.

Dancing The Flower of Glasgow – Liz and Pat at the left, Moira in the centre and Charles at the right
Désirée and Robert dancing The Flower of Glasgow
RSCDS NZ Branch President Linda Glavin with Debbie Roxburgh

A highlight of the evening was Linda Glavin presenting Debbie Roxburgh with a RSCDS New Zealand Branch Life Membership.

Congratulations Debbie for receiving this award—well-deserved after her many years of contributions to Scottish Country Dancing.

With Moggie Grayson (her 75th, congratulations Moggie) and Jason Morris having birthdays on the night, we celebrated with them by singing Happy Birthday to rousing music from the band.

Before midnight, Damon led a singalong of Scottish songs. Last year we’d moved to the 21st century with the words being projected on to a screen. Unfortunately, the hall’s projector had been stolen so we reverted to the old way of using printed copies!

The ceremony for welcoming in the New Year began with the Old Year and the Sweeper sweeping out the old year while we sang Auld Lang Syne.

The Old Year and the Sweeper sweeping out the year 2021

As President of the Wellington Region, Ann Oliver announced the arrival of the First Foot—the first person to come across the threshold in the new year, carrying gifts of coal for warmth, salt or money for wealth, shortbread for sustenance and whisky for good cheer.

Followed by piper Nicole Trewavas, First Foot Jason Morris walked a circuit around the hall before presenting the gifts to Ann.

Piper Nicole Trewavas and First Foot Jason Morris bearing gifts

The First Foot then raised a toast to the RSCDS Wellington Region and we welcomed in the new year of 2022.

Raising a toast to the Wellington Region – First Foot Jason Morris, Region President Ann Oliver, Piper Nicole Trewavas and MC Damon Collin

After wishing each other Happy New Year, it was time for dancers to tackle the final three popular dances—the Eightsome Reel, Culla Bay and De’il Amang the Tailors. A fitting start to a new year of dancing!

Loralee Hyde
2 January 2022

Loralee with Liz

See all of Loralee’s photos and download if you wish

Watch these videos from Pat Reesby
Ecclefechan Feline
Fair Donald
Yan Tan Tethera
New Year Ceremony

A chatty Christmas lunch to end 2021

As usual the club’s Christmas lunch was a relaxed and social affair, and Café Thyme made us very welcome. Seventeen club members were able to attend (up considerably on last year), and Aileen Logie also made time to join us, which was lovely.

Thanks to Liz H, Loralee and Pam, who came early to nab tables, and help café co-owner Jackie set us up with a long table layout that worked really well. People arrived at times that suited them, gradually filling all the places, with a bit of musical chairs as some left early.

The coffee was good, the food was great, and the company was (of course) excellent. It was really nice to have the opportunity to sit and chat, and get to find out more about who our fellow dancers are off the dance floor.

And it was good to have a range of people there, from first year dancer Pam and second year dancer Isabelle, through to long standing Johnsonville members from the 1980s, such as John H and John M. It was a delightful mix of membership, dancing, and life experience.

The big change this year was that Café Thyme is now a double-vaccinated venue, and we were all required to present our vaccine passes. It was quite a smooth process, with café staff scanning passes in the line, whenever a queue formed at the counter.

It is something we’ll be doing a lot of next year, as all our usual club venues will also require vaccine passes in 2022. That includes Khandallah Town Hall for club nights, Johnsonville Bowling Club for our Summer Ceilidh, and St John’s Church Hall for our mid-winter dinner and dance.

This will give reassurance to dancers who have not been comfortable to dance at Level 2, knowing that everyone on the dance floor is double vaccinated.

Click on the gallery below to see Loralee’s photos of this social occasion:

Commiserations to those club members who couldn’t join us as planned, hopefully they can make it next year. And who knows, we may one day get good enough weather to again sit outside in the sun, as shown in Loralee’s photos from the 2017 Christmas Lunch.

Kristin Downey
11 December 2021

Celebrating our Members: Tartan & Final Night 2021

The club’s Tartan and Final Night on Monday 29 November, was a lot of fun for the almost five sets of dancers who could be there on the night. With Rod at the helm, and the music of Airs and Graces, everyone danced their hearts out.

Lots of smiles from the members who could be there to celebrate our final night!

Good things are possible

As with many events these days, it was a celebration of the possible. Due to Covid restrictions, it was not possible to hold our Annual Dance, or our planned Saturday night end of year dance at Ngaio Town Hall. But it was possible to instead shift to Khandallah Town Hall, in our usual Monday slot.

We were very fortunate to have this option as a backup, and many thanks go to musicians Lynne Scott, Mary McDonald and Glenice Saunders who held themselves available for whichever date and venue became necessary. Live music adds so much to our Scottish Country Dancing experience, making our toes tap, and our spirits lift.

Music from Glenice, Mary and Lynne added to the celebration

Rod devised this year’s final night programme as a celebration of Johnsonville’s members, in recognition of their dedication, and their positive response to the many changes and disruptions this year.

Members have had to adjust to Khandallah Town Hall as our new club night venue, have bounced back from lockdowns, and also adapted to dancing again at Johnsonville Bowling Club for a period, when that was our only option. And we’re still smiling.

The programme

Dances on the programme included some from our original shared Annual Dance with Capital City, recognising the work of tutors Rod and Jeanette in putting the programme together, and teaching the dances to members of both clubs. (City of Wisteria was definitely one that we all worked very hard on learning.)

The full-length programme planned for a final night at Ngaio Town Hall on the Saturday, was necessarily shortened to accommodate dancing instead on Monday night at Khandallah Town Hall.

We retained the theme of Celebrating our Members, with six of the easier dances written for members on the final Monday programme (the first five devised by Rod):

  • Allison Kay (Allison is the current club treasurer)
  • The Durian Rant (for our Singaporean & Malaysian members – Prisilla Conroy, Moira Broughton, Nancy Tay, and now also Isabelle Joseph)
  • John Markham’s Rant (John is a current committee member, and one of only four members who’ve been dancing at Johnsonville since the 1980s)
  • Jeanette’s Hornpipe (Jeanette Watson is a Johnsonville member and relief tutor, and Capital City club tutor)
  • The Kitchen Faerie (Elizabeth Ngan is the club’s long-standing supper co-ordinator) 
  • At the End of the Rainbow (Loralee Hyde is a former club president, and current webmaster and photographer) devised by Iain Boyd, no link available.
Having fun while dancing the circles in The Durian Rant

The extras

We can dance with just an MC, a programme, and music. But all the extras really do make a difference, especially when they’re tartan!

Members were up and down ladders, the club’s tartan bunting was tacked up and (in a last-minute flash of inspiration) suspended from the balcony, and a Saltire and Lions Rampant made a colourful backdrop for the band.

Tartan rugs and programme posters decorated the walls, and swinging kilts and flying sashes, cheerful tartan ribbons, and plaid shirts and skirts enlivened the dance floor. Amongst them was the tartan ribbon that once belonged to Isla Norris, and is now worn by Mandy Clark, a lovely reminder of times and people past.

Our tartan tablecloths added that extra bit of celebratory colour at supper time, when we enjoyed our first shared supper since lockdown. The hall was buzzing, and the chance to socialise over good food, and a cup of tea meant supper became quite extended … and Den O’ Mains was dropped from the programme.


The end of the year is when we formally thank Rod as tutor, for all the hard work he puts in. Kristin as President, presented him with a card signed by club members, in appreciation of all he’s done to keep us dancing despite the year’s many difficulties.

On behalf of the Tuesday afternoon dancing group, Maureen presented the club with a box of Favourites chocolates in thanks for the loan of a Johnsonville Club coomber. As she said, this has saved the group from having to buy one of their own.

Thanks to all

The club continues to run smoothly due to the efforts of all our members, and final night was no exception.

Thanks to the set-up crew who swooped in to deck out the hall, set up the seating etc, to the supper team who were back in action, and to the pack-up team who returned the hall to order at the end of the night. Much appreciated.

Thanks also to the many visitors from other clubs who made the night more special, and nice to have Shelley from Hamilton as a repeat visitor.

It was a good night to finish what really was a good year, despite disruptions. And so ended our first year of dancing at Khandallah Town Hall.

Click on the gallery below to see all of Loralee’s photos

Click on the links below to watch Pat Reesby’s videos

Allison Kay 
Jeanette’s Hornpipe
The Durian Rant
The Kitchen Faerie

Kristin Downey
2 December 2021

A Night of Halloween Spirit 2021

Another fine night we made for ourselves, at our first Halloween/Samhain celebration at Khandallah Town Hall.

It was wonderful to see the hall full of dancers, with more than four sets of members, plus past member Pat Reesby, who can never resist the opportunity to dance Ferla Mor.

Members really entered into the spirit of Halloween with many a witch and cloak to be seen, black and pumpkin-coloured outfits galore, cobweb adornments, creative goodie-bag costumes and Anne Mackenzie came resplendent in a fantastic tartan, winged outfit, complete with half-face paint.

Our revellers certainly entered into the spirit of Halloween/Samhain!

The dancing was also spirited, and a laugh a minute. Thanks to our devilish MC Rod, for giving us such a good time, despite that ‘Australian accent’ we blamed for any confusion we may (or may not) have experienced! My lips are sealed.

Rod the ‘devil’ dancing the ‘dishwasher progression’ in The Kitchen Faerie

We started with two of Rod’s dances—The Kitchen Faerie, written for our supper co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan, followed by a revised version of Maggie Boag’s Jig, written as a farewell gift for Maggie as she leaves us to return to Scotland.

The Kitchen Faerie, Elizabeth Ngan!
Maggie at the right dancing Maggie Boag’s Jig

Then it was on to old favourites, Slytherin’ House, and The Scottish Werewolf, with the challenge of The Fairy Dance sandwiched between. The Devil’s Quandary kept us on our toes, and we finished with Ferla Mor and its ghostly music.

Thanks to those who stepped in and helped put up Halloween decorations, especially Anne Mackenzie—our beautifully costumed ladder woman who was first on the scene. On one side we had our ‘Welcome to Halloween’ banner, and on the other – a skeleton set on high, flanked by spiders, bats, pumpkins and ghouls, with spidery webs all around. A bit of decoration always adds that extra touch to any celebration, definitely worth the effort of putting them up (and then taking them down again – thanks to the packer-uppers).

No colourful, festive supper this year due to Covid restrictions, but there were some leftover Halloween trick or treat choccies on offer.

View costumes and smiling faces in a selection of fantastic photos from our witchy-photographer Loralee Hyde, and in videos of Rod’s dances The Kitchen Faerie and Maggie Boag’s Jig from roving videographer Pat Reesby. See if you can work out which witch is which.

Click on the gallery below to see all of Loralee’s photos

PS We’ve also done our bit to spread the word a little wider to the Pilates group departing the hall, that Halloween originated in the Celtic world, not in the US!

Kristin Downey
3 November 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

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