Category Archives: Event Reviews 2022

Halloween 2022: Bringing in the Samhain spirit

Setting the scene

Halloween is a well-loved celebration, by dancers and musicians alike, and Rod always brings us a lively selection of dances with supernatural links and atmospheric music. Hall decorations, a bit of ‘dressing up’ and special themed supper offerings all add to the occasion.

This year on Monday 31 October, the streets of Khandallah were full of colourfully costumed trick or treaters, putting us in the mood before we even made it through the hall door. A couple even ventured in, and left with a treat or two.

Plenty of people arrived in time to join in somewhat random hall-decorating, with an assortment of bats and spiders, ghoulish masks, pumpkin-themed items and orange streamers scattered around the hall walls.

Last year’s skeleton costume again took pride of place, though we’d forgotten how we’d cleverly attached it last year, and it did keep peeling itself off the wall (as you’ll notice in some of Loralee’s photos).

The new pièce de résistance was a large-scale, long-armed, furry black hanging spider, carefully carried back from Queensland in Rod and Kristin’s hand luggage. Festooned in web, it lurked outside the kitchen hatch.

Dances and a little bit of history

With the scene set, we took the floor ready for a fun night. Members made a great effort to dress to theme, witch’s hats ruled, masks abounded, there were caped devils and vampires, dancers in black and orange, and many a spider.

Our Halloween revellers (with the visiting skeleton looming over us!)

Club musician Aileen Logie was joined by Jason Morris, also on accordion, one of the rare occasions when we’ve danced to a 2-box band. Aileen’s enthusiasm for Halloween always brings that Samhain spirit to the night’s music, and off we went.

Jason Morris and Aileen Logie brought the spirit of Samhain to the dance

The first dance of the night was an easy warm-up dance, which also celebrated a little piece of club history. The Scottish Werewolf is a children’s dance written by former Johnsonville member Denise Sander in the 1970s, in honour of then children’s class tutor Iain Boyd.

Dancing The Scottish Werewolf, all dressed-up for Halloween

Moving from wicked werewolves to friendly fairies, The Fairy Dance kept us on our toes with fairy circles, first on the ladies’ side and then the men’s. Those fairies are agile little creatures it seems.

Next was the Harry Potter-inspired Slytherin’ House, with its two snake passes – somewhat disorientating until you pin down those slithering snake-paths. Rod first taught us this dance at Johnsonville’s first Halloween celebration in 2016, at our then home venue, Johnsonville School hall.

The caped devil, Rod, teaching the tricky snake passes of Slytherin’ House

Another bit of Johnsonville history – Slytherin’ House deviser Chris Ronald sent Rod the instructions in 2016 when he was looking for suitably themed dances, and that was the first time the dance was done outside Chris Ronald’s home club. There’s no video from our 2016 Halloween, but Pat Reesby videoed club members dancing Slytherin’ House at a Johnsonville Tartan Night in October 2018 at Johnsonville School hall.

In the final dance before supper, the devilish details of The Devil’s in the Detail lead me briefly astray, but thankfully supper treats were waiting.

Supper and the bard

Supper co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan always brings us a supper surprise at Halloween, and this year her party treat was a very cute pegged string of Halloween sweets to choose from. Liz Hands as the other supper-server, made artistic orange iced ‘pumpkin’ biscuits and Oreo bats with beady eyes (to compete with those little plastic rats scattered about the supper bench).

Our Halloween Supper treats (along with greedy rats!) prepared by Elizabeth Ngan and Liz Hands
Aline the Bard. Photo: Anne Holmstead

As we supped, Aline Homes brought us a different sort of treat, introducing story-telling to the supper break.

Aline’s life as a Bard began in March this year when she joined the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and began a course of studies.

Wreathed in ivy, and reading from her Bard’s book, Aline drew dancers in with her version of the story of The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdui (Am Fear Liath Mòr).

Aline composed her story from many sources, including her own unsettling experience on Ben Macdui as the mist came down. (Interestingly, Aileen Logie reports some similarly eerie experiences on the mountain).


We returned to the dance floor for The Witching Hour by Chicago deviser Sue McKinnell, who loves to write complicated dances. Dancers may recognise her name as deviser of the dance Tinkling Jade, taught by Jeanette when Rod was away. It too has a Wellington connection, being written for ex-Wellington dancer, Xiaowen Yu’s new baby girl, born this year.

Although more dancing was planned for the night, a serious medical emergency for one of our members took priority. We are so grateful for the swift response of all those individuals who stepped forward, their actions made the difference in saving a life.

Click on the gallery below to see Loralee Hyde and Anne Holmstead’s photos of the night – dancers, supper, band and bard.

Kristin Downey
3 November 2022

Photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted

Wellington Region New Dancers’ Celebration 2022

The buzz and excitement of a full hall

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

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

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

The buzz

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

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

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

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

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


New Dancers’ Celebration 2022 Programme

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

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

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

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

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

The night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering our patron Queen Elizabeth

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

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

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

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

Special award

Kevin & Elaine Lethbridge with her Wellington Region award.

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

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

Congratulations Elaine.

Read the full citation here

Many thanks to all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The buzz carries on

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

Kristin Downey
11 October 2022

All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted.

Glendarroch Annual Dance: A social weekend

The Glendarroch Scottish Country Dance Club are based in Whanganui, their Annual Dance is a perfect opportunity for a weekend break. It’s an afternoon dance so there is time to get from Wellington in the morning, non-stop it is two hours and 20 minutes or so. Back in the day you could have gone by train but that’s no longer an option.

Whanganui is a very attractive city with a lively feel and some wonderful old buildings, many of which have been restored and put to new uses. Along with Cape Town, Bilbao, Singapore, Berlin and Bangkok it has been designated a UNESCO City of Design.

But enough of design, what about the dancing? On Saturday 24 September, the Glendarroch dance was held in the Carlton School Hall, in Carlton Avenue. The music was by the Scottish Saltire Band from Wellington, decorating the stage with the Saltire of Scotland displayed prominently on their music stands. The hall was full of school decorations, flags of many nations and the House Shield, which sounds like something out of Harry Potter.

Dancing to the music of the Scottish Saltire Band at the Glendarroch Annual Dance. Photo: Robert Vale

The dancing began at 2pm with at least five sets on the floor. Several people had come from Wellington to join the fun, including four from Johnsonville. There were quite a few from the Tawa club, Tawa  have a tradition of attending Glendarroch’s dance and booking in at a motel together, where they meet up afterwards to chat.

Désirée at the right, one of the Johnsonville members at the dance. Photo: Robert Vale

We were kept pretty busy at the dance, there were eleven dances in the first part, followed by seven in the second. Quite a few of them were dances we had done over the past year or so at Johnsonville club nights. There was a break for conversation and catching up between the two lots of dancing.

Robert (centre) with the Whanganui tram. Photo: Dora Koleff

Only at the very end was the tea brought out, and very welcome it was. There was heaps of food, I heard they had provided extra as they knew that people were coming from Wellington for the dance.

The next day the dancers who had not headed home were able to have a ride on one of Whanganui’s former electric trams, which operates on Sunday afternoons on a short track down by the river.

I’m a tram driver (officially called a Motorman) at the Wellington Tramway Museum out in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paekākāriki, so I was allowed to drive the Whanganui tram with the Wellington dancers as passengers and I got it there and back without breaking anything.

Robert Vale
29 September 2022

Tawa Annual Dance: An evening of vigorous dancing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos:
Granville Market
Rothesay Rant

Secretary: Robert Vale

Robert Vale
21 September 2022

Lower Hutt Annual Dance 2022: Dancing with Momentum

I counted ten Johnsonville members dancing at the Lower Hutt Dance on Saturday 3 September, plus club musician Aileen who was on stage playing accordion for us the whole night long, along with member Hilary.

The dance was held in the Knox Church Hall in Lower Hutt, plenty of space for six sets in three rows. The decorations were all tartan, with banners, informative pictures of the clan tartans and tartan swags across the front of the stage. A huge ‘open book’ at the lower end of the hall displayed the night’s programme.

Lower Hutt Annual Dance Book Programme

On the stage as well as Aileen Logie, the band were Hilary Ferral (fiddle), Jason Morris (keyboard) and Terry Bradshaw (percussion). They provided glorious music for the whole night’s dancing, they must have been exhausted by the end.

Dancing to glorious music from Aileen, Hilary, Jason and Terry

The members of Lower Hutt Club made us visitors feel very welcome.

Everyone went well in spite of a programme with four of the total of seventeen dances marked with two stars for ‘only dance this one if you know it well’ and another three with one star for ‘find a good partner’.

Damon Collin MC’d the night with clarity as well as wit. For the last but one dance before supper he said that “the Weasley family in the Harry Potter stories were in the stonemasonry trade. Now we will dance The Weasley Pavers”. In spite of that, we all managed The Paisley Weavers.

St Bernard’s Waltz preceded a shift into the spacious foyer for supper. There was plenty of tea and coffee although we had been warned that the hot water boiler had failed, as well as the dishwasher. There was lots to eat as well and we all staggered back to the hall to work off our gluttony to Seton’s Ceilidh Band.

The night ended with The De’il Amang the Tailors followed by some music for stretching and easing sore muscles in a circle and the singing of Auld Lang Syne. We had enjoyed a wonderful night’s dancing, many thanks to Lower Hutt.

Your roving reporter had to miss dancing the vigorous and complicated Momentum in order to take some photos of the Johnsonville dancers. I have to admit I did not mind at all!

Johnsonville members were among those enjoying Momentum, an intricate dance

Robert Vale
8 September 2022

Photos: Robert Vale

2022 Annual Dance: Well worth the wait!

After two years of our Annual Dance being cancelled due to covid, it was third time lucky this year.

As Johnsonville President, it was my turn to give the speech, and it was wonderful to be able to welcome six sets of dancers to the 2022 Johnsonville-Capital City Combined Annual Dance on 20 August.

Many thanks to those who joined us from Linden, Lower Hutt (a full set), Ngaio, Tawa – and one very enthusiastic visitor from out of town.

John Markham in the centre of the set enjoying John Markham’s Rant devised by Johnsonville Tutor Rod Downey. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Looking at the weather across the preceding week, we did at times wonder if cancellations due to ‘plague’ would be followed by cancellation due to ‘flood’! But despite endless days of rain, and many slips across the Wellington region, our dance went ahead.

MCs Jeanette and Rod did a fantastic job of putting together a programme for everyone to enjoy, preparing us well, and keeping us on track on the night. It was a lovely, friendly and relaxed atmosphere, with experienced dancers supporting ‘red dot’ newer dancers.

Wonderful covering during the more challenging dance, City of Wisteria. Photo: Loralee Hyde

This was the first time we’d held the annual dance at Newtown School hall, Capital City club’s home venue. A new venue is always a bit of an experiment, but it turned out to be excellent.

At a club night, the hall capacity and ambiance are diminished by stacks of chairs, random items of furniture, the school BBQ and sometimes bicycles. But once we had all those stowed away, there was plenty of space, even with a portable stage in place for the night.

The hall set-up team did a marvellous job, bringing colour and a festive atmosphere to the hall. The walls were decorated with tartan rugs, tartan bunting and Scottish shields, with a very tall ladder needed to pin up a backdrop of Scottish flags on the stage curtains – and our very tallest member for the highest bunting.

Johnsonville and Capital City members working together to set up the tartan rugs and bunting. Photo: Kristin Downey

Despite recent weather, club members delivered an abundance of greenery and flowers from their gardens. Although perhaps a little overwhelmed initially, Aline Homes took up the challenge, her beautiful arrangements creating a splendid setting for the band.

Musicians Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Richard Hardie were also splendid, playing fantastic music for us. Thank you for such a great night’s dancing, and thanks to Duncan McDonald for the staging and James Scott on sound.

Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Richard Hardie playing toe-tapping music on the stage beautifully decorated with floral arrangements created by Aline Homes. Photo: Loralee Hyde

There are of course lots of other people to thank, including all those who helped with supper and hall pack-up. Johnsonville’s tartan tablecloths were on display at supper time, and members from both clubs ensured there was a more-than-we-could-possibly-eat supper spread.

Special thanks to Allison Kay (for all that shopping and chopping to make fruit salad), and Elizabeth Ngan (for overseeing everything supper-related, including two recce visits to the hall). I hear the newly renovated hall kitchen was a pleasure to use.

A sumptuous supper catered for all, laid out on Johnsonville’s long-standing tartan tablecloths Photo: Loralee Hyde

Members of the Annual Dance sub-committee deserve recognition for all the work they’ve put in – three years of organisation finally came to fruition in this year’s dance. Members from Capital City this year were Jeanette Watson, John Jowett and Peter Beaumont (plus Neil Bromley in 2020 and 2021).

Johnsonville members were Allison Kay, Kristin and Rod Downey, and Maura Beattie. I am very grateful to John Jowett, who has chaired the committee for all of those three years, and to Johnsonville club members Loralee Hyde and Robert Vale for their contributions.

The musicians have also been working towards this for three years, and were also delighted to see it all come together this year.

Sadly, some people did still miss out. Quite a few club members planned to be there, but were prevented by illness. We look forward to next year’s dance being one that everyone can attend.

Click on the gallery below to see more of Loralee and Kristin’s photos.

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos:
Andrew and Gordon’s jig
The Shores of Solway

Watch Aline Homes’ video:
Catch the Wind

Kristin Downey
25 August 2022

Download the 2022 Annual Dance Programme

Levin Annual Dance: An excellent afternoon

The Levin Scottish Country Dancing Club have only 24 members but they put on a great annual dance on Sunday afternoon, 17 July. Levin have the added problem of not having a local tutor, so the resourceful members take turns to learn and brief dances, with Melva Waite, the Ngaio Club tutor, travelling up once a month to be a guest tutor.

For Sunday’s dance Melva was the MC and the music was played by the The Saltire Scottish Dance Band. The musicians were Mary McDonald and Jason Morris from Wellington, and Glenice Saunders from Palmerston North. It was lucky that the band got there on time, as the traffic was horrendous with all those disconsolate rugby fans returning home in tears from a loss to Ireland.

A number of Wellington dancers including Johnsonville members joined others from Manawatū and Whanganui at Levin’s dance

In spite of the traffic there were six sets (eventually). Talking to people between dances it seemed they had come from far and wide – Ashhurst, Whanganui and Palmerston North as well as a good contingent from Wellington, including several Johnsonville members.

Ōhau Hall has a perfect floor for dancing

The dance was in the beautiful and atmospheric Ōhau Hall, in the tiny settlement of Ōhau about 6 km south of Levin. The hall has a perfect floor for dancing and the band said it was acoustically just right. There is also a kitchen and an adjacent room where a feast (with gluten-free and vegan options) was set out to revive the dancers half-way through.

Everyone who was there enjoyed themselves dancing an excellent programme. The event finished just before 6pm. It had taken an hour and three quarters to get there but only an hour to get home.

Robert Vale
21 July 2022

Photos: Robert Vale

A Mid-Winter Summer Social

It’s not easy to dress for ‘Summer’ in the middle of winter, but that’s what we asked members to do for this year’s mid-winter social event on 9 July.

You can blame Covid for this topsy-turvy seasonality. The club’s January Summer Ceilidh was cancelled due to Covid, so why not instead enjoy those Summer-themed dances in the middle of winter?

Beach towels and sarongs round the walls set the scene, together with bright yellow paper suns and summer images. Members and their guests dressed in primary colours and bright florals, adding summer colour to the dance floor.

Some of us hedged our bets with multiple layers, others bravely turned up sleeveless or in shorts, and it was the perfect opportunity for all those Hawaiian and batik shirts to emerge from the wardrobe.

Our summer revellers!

We started with nibbles and chit-chat and Allison Kay’s wonderful mulled wine to get us in the mood for a relaxing night. Then it was on to our first bracket of dances.

Tutor Rod Downey gave us a fun night of (mostly) easy-ish dances with a summer theme, starting with his round-the-room dance Summer Waltz Mixer. Once he and I had finally come to a shared understanding of the sequence for our demonstration (!), people picked it up and off we went.

We eventually got the hang of dancing Summer Waltz Mixer!

A Hot Summer’s Day gave non-dancing partners a go at a simple Scottish Country Dance, followed by The Camp of Pleasure – one of Rod’s exam dances, its meaning re-cast for the occasion to be all about summer camp (rather than camp followers).

Enjoying the strathspey The Camp of Pleasure

Dancing worked up a good appetite, but we were no match for the amazing spread of food laid out in the kitchen. With Elizabeth Ngan at the helm, our many kitchen volunteers did a fantastic job of setting up the cornucopia of potluck dishes.

We have potluck co-ordinator Maureen Sullivan to thank for ensuring all bases were covered – curries, pie, stew, veges galore, salads and more. And although some may disagree, it was absolutely the case that 13 desserts really would have been too many for 34 people!

Our members brought along a fabulous array of food for our potluck dinner

A little weighed-down by desserts, we returned to the dance floor. The Canadian Barn Dance (actually a polka), Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Salute to Summer*, readied us for the next round of eating, with a clean kitchen and a delicious array of desserts on offer.

Three more dances beckoned, but instead we were delighted by a surprise offer of a song from last year’s new dancer Anna Carter (nee Macdonald), who was to have sung for us at our cancelled Summer Ceilidh.

Instead the Mid-Year Summer celebration was the perfect replacement occasion. Anna gave a beautiful a cappella performance of the song she wrote about her trip to Scotland, and the emotion attached to visiting the place of her ancestors. See the words to Anna’s song here

Anna treated us to an a cappella performance of a song she wrote

Back to the dance floor, and despite the challenges of running step, The Haymakers was a crowd favourite. Next was Summer on the Beach, energetic and full of beach imagery, leading into The De’il Amang the Tailors* to finish the night.

It was a fantastic event, with everyone turning their hand to something to help the night run smoothly for the enjoyment all. Thank you all.

Club photographer Loralee Hyde was on hand to record this convivial winter gathering of dancing friends. You can enjoy re-living our Mid-Year Summer festivities through Loralee’s collection of photos in the gallery below.

*No videos were taken on the night, but a couple of the links above show Johnsonville dancers at other occasions.

Kristin Downey

13 July 2022

Photos: Loralee Hyde

Winter dancing fun

Now that clubs have been dancing for some months, the winter Scottish Country Dancing ‘season’ is getting going, with club dances every second or third weekend.

Kelburn’s Farewell Dance started the ball rolling as it has done for many years, holding its very last annual dance, as the club closed for good. It was wonderful to see to many dancers attending to celebrate the part the club has played in the Wellington Scottish Country Dancing community.

Next on the list was Linden Club, holding their Annual Dance on Saturday 2 July at Ngaio Town Hall. I wasn’t able to attend, but Robert Vale reports:

‘Dancing was to the music of Strings Attached – Lynne Scott, Jason Morris and Richard Hardie – playing from a stage decorated across the front with tartan and green fern branches so fresh that you could smell them.’

Rod Downey dancing The Button Boy with Johnsonville Club members Jeanette Watson and Désirée Patterson also in the set

Robert also commented that ‘It was fortunate they had a good-sized hall as at times there were seven sets on the floor with numbers swelled by the presence of management committee members of the NZ Branch of the RSCDS who were in Wellington for a meeting.’

NZ Branch Management Committee members dancing included Gaylia Powell, Debbie Roxburgh and Andy Patterson

The programme was MC’d by co-tutors of Linden, Ann Oliver and Philippa Pointon, and featured three dances from the Wellington region’s recently published book of dances The Wellington 60th Anniversary CollectionCamping at Victoria Mines, The Amateur Epidemiologist, and Momentum.

Johnsonville dancers on the floor included Moira, with Pat and Maureen in the background

Johnsonville dancers were there a-plenty, with Rod counting twelve on the floor. You can see some of them in Robert’s photos above, really enjoying the night’s dancing, and in Pat Reesby’s video of Camping at Victoria Mines

Kristin Downey
7 July 2022

Photos: Robert Vale

June Tartan Night: A lively evening of dancing

Even though things are pretty much back to normal as far as holding events is concerned, we can’t take anything for granted these days.

So it was really satisfying to have our second Tartan Night for the year go ahead as planned, on the original date of 27 June, with all band members present and correct, the MC on deck, and most members able to attend.

It was a lovely, lively night of dancing, as Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Richard Hardie filled the hall with irresistible music, and five sets of members and visitors took to the dance floor with vigour. Commiserations to those who were unable to make it.

Dancing the first dance Lonely Sunday to lively music from Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Richard Hardie with MC Rod Downey keeping an eye on how the sets were doing.

Khandallah Town Hall looked very festive, thanks to the efforts of all those who turned up early, and made the most of the 20 minutes available for set-up. Ladders were out, tall (and short) people were deployed to add colour to our night with tartan posters, rugs and bunting, and Scottish flags and banners.

After some initial confusion (!), we started with Lonely Sunday by Damon Collin (not by wife and fellow deviser Gaye, as had mistakenly gone out on the programme). Then we were off and reeling with Lady C Bruce’s Reel, wove our way through The Lover’s Knot (videoed by Pat Reesby), on to Mrs MacLeod and To Catch a Weasel, finishing the first half with The Reel of the Royal Scots.

Five sets dancing The Lover’s Knot in the hall decorated with the club’s tartan bunting

Supper was a magnificent spread with options for everybody, and those of us who are gluten-free were delighted to find that our corner of the table had lots to choose from. There were also three boxes of pizza sending out tempting aromas – a first on our Tartan Night supper tables.

The second half of the night included popular dances St Andrew’s Fair, The Kissing Bridge, and The Luckenbooth Brooch, finishing with perennial favourite The Reel of the 51st.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the night so enjoyable – Rod as MC, our band Strings Attached, the hall set-up team, the supper team with Elizabeth Ngan co-ordinating, and all those who stayed on at the end to pack up. And of course all those who added to the atmosphere by turning out in a touch of tartan.

A special feature of the night was the public premiere of tutor Rod Downey’s new dance Tairāwhiti Wedding. This original version was trialled by Leeds Branch tutor Catherine Livsey and her experienced class (video here), and taught at club and at the Wellington Region Tuesday advanced class, but this was its first public airing.

Enjoying dancing the public premiere of Tairāwhiti Wedding devised by Rod Downey, which includes a new version of the Rose Progression.

The dance was devised to commemorate the Gisborne wedding of Rod and Kristin’s younger son Alex to Lana Phillips, at Waitangi weekend this year. Tairāwhiti is the Māori name for the Gisborne region, which turned on perfect weather for visitors and family, creating some wonderful memories.

NOTE: Rod has since changed the instructions for Tairāwhiti Wedding to create better flow. The revised instructions are available here or on Rod’s home page, where the digital version of his most recent book of dances The Pīwakawaka Collection is under construction.

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

Kristin Downey
30 June 2022

Photos: Loralee Hyde