Category Archives: Event Reviews 2022

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.

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.

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

Kelburn’s Farewell

The Kelburn Scottish Country Dance Club held its final dance on Sunday 19 June. The club is closing after more than sixty years, due to a decline in numbers. Kelburn has traditionally held an annual Tea Dance and this final event was no exception.

There’s a lot to be said for an afternoon dance. We started at 2:30 in the daylight-flooded St Michael’s Church Hall, in Upland Road. Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris played for us, it’s so good to dance to live music.

The programme of 14 dances included many favourites of the Kelburn Club, plus a new dance written for the occasion – Kelburn’s Farewell, a 3 couple jig in a 4 couple set, which turned out to be slightly less difficult than it looked.

Current and former members and tutors of Kelburn Club at their farewell dance on 19 June, including Johnsonville member John Homes second from the right in the back row. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Almost two sets of Johnsonville members were there in support of the Kelburn Club, and up to seven sets on the floor at one point, completely filling the hall. There were also quite a few spectators who’d come to mark this significant event.

Fourteen Johnsonville dancers were among the seven sets at Kelburn’s Farewell, here enjoying The Borrowdale Exchange. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Johnsonville Club member John Homes danced at Kelburn Club for about 10 years from the early 1970s into the early 1980s, and has written about his time at the club. See John’s story below.

Robert Vale

Kelburn Final Dance

That was then

I first learned Scottish Country Dancing at Kelburn Club.

I had tried some English Country Dancing through the Folk Music Club, and Moggie Grayson, who I knew through that club, suggested that I might like the Scottish version. So I came along to Kelburn Club, where she was dancing, and found that she was right.

I can no longer remember exactly when this was, but it would have been within a couple of years of 1970 (I have been dancing for a long time) and Betty Redfearn was the Club Tutor. Betty was a very good teacher, or at least just the sort of teacher I needed, and I progressed rapidly under her tuition.

Betty had come from Canada, by ship as was common back in those days, and told us of the time that she was in a set that danced the Eightsome Reel on the ship, with one set requiring the entire ballroom because the set kept shifting as the ship rolled with the waves.

In those days, first year dancers were advised not to go to the Annual Dances. Dances were never walked, just briefed, and we should be thankful that it was not like Scotland, where you would not even get a briefing. But Betty told both Moggie and myself that we could go to Kelburn’s Annual Dance, provided we clearly understood that we would only be doing certain dances. This seemed fair enough, so we agreed and went. Moggie may have scandalised a few dear old ladies, by wearing a silver-shot turquoise trouser suit to a Scottish dance.

In subsequent years, we could and did go to most of the Annual Dances.

Betty’s husband Peter was not as keen or as skilled a dancer as Betty was, but he did dance, and Betty could say with a straight face that “a non-dancing husband is an irrelevance.”

Betty was the principal tutor throughout the time that I danced at Kelburn, but there were others. I recall Betty taking a year off at one point, and Elaine Laidlaw teaching the club, and from time to time other tutors had to step in because Betty was away, sometimes out at sea as part of her job in fisheries research.

One such fill-in tutor was club stalwart M. M. “Peg” Hutchison. Peg was a mainstay of the club, and of the New Zealand Branch, but she had a great many other interests as well. I recall visiting Zealandia one time, and there was Peg, checking that there were no stowaways hiding in our bags. When we bought our house, and needed a mortgage, my father sent us off to see Auntie Peg at the Credit Union, which is why the dance The Merry Oddfellows reminds me of Peg (and do look at the videos from that link).

Peg also worked hard at improving educational opportunities for women, and inspired an award for older women pursuing a change of career. Incidentally, if you go looking through that website, you will see another name familiar to long time Johnsonville members.

Peg Hutchison second from the left with other Kiwi dancers at a dancing school in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2001. Former Johnsonville member Philippa Pointon is at the left and current member Loralee Hyde fourth from the right. Photo supplied by Loralee Hyde

Other regular dancers at Kelburn included Beth Duncan, who also served many years on the committee, and Mary Ronnie, who was the New Zealand National Librarian, and who after she retired decide that perhaps now it was time she got married.

Mary Ronnie dancing Wild Mountain Thyme with Romaine Butterfield (with John Homes and Dame Margaret Sparrow as third couple), at a Tribute to Betty Redfearn (a former tutor at Kelburn Club) in June 2017. Photo: Loralee Hyde

There were of course many more dancers, but most of them are now lost in the mists of my fallible memory. I will not try to list the few I do recall, at the expense of the others.

For Kelburn’s tenth anniversary, before my time, Betty had written a dance, Kelburn’s Reel, which was then published in The Morison’s Bush Collection. When the twenty-first anniversary was looming, I had made a few attempts at writing dances, and wrote one for the anniversary, which I called Welcome to St Michael’s, from where Kelburn Club danced, and Betty taught it for the occasion. The instructions have now long been lost, but I recall that it was a three couple strathspey in a three couple set, and you changed partners for each repeat.

In the middle of 1981 I moved out to Johnsonville, and joined the Johnsonville Club, but Kelburn had not yet finished with me.

In 1982, the new dancers at Johnsonville included a lady named Aline Holden, who I thought we could make into a good dancer if she kept it up. It appears that within two or three months, other club members were thinking of us as a couple, although it was much later in the year before we started thinking of that ourselves.

Then in 1983, Aline moved to Orangi Kaupapa Road in Northland, which was more suitable for her work at the University, and so for the next two years we danced at both Kelburn and Johnsonville. In 1985 she moved back to Johnsonville, and in 1986 we were married, and although we continued to attend Kelburn special events, that was the end of our regular attendance.

John and Aline’s wedding 8 March 1986: the celebrant, groomsman Malcolm Tippet (who
used to dance at Linden), John, Aline and Matron of Honour, Margaret Harper

This is Now

Now, alas, Kelburn Club is no more. But it finished up in style, with a splendid Final Dance on the afternoon of Sunday 19th June 2022. Our compliments must go to final tutor Chris Totton and the remaining members who put on a great time for us.

It was a good programme of dances old and new, none very difficult, including one, Kelburn’s Farewell, especially written by Chris for the occasion, and videoed by both Pat Reesby and myself. Pat also videoed Tap the Barrel. St Michael’s Church Hall was quite full, although not quite like Mick McGilligan’s Ball, and there were seven sets up at times.

We danced to the music of Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral, and Jason Morris, who provided an excellent sound. Aileen of course plays regularly for Johnsonville Club, and very pleased we are to have her.

MC Chris Totton with Jason Morris and Aileen Logie

As well as saying Farewell to Kelburn Club, I had the opportunity to meet up with a number of dancing friends who I had not seen for quite a while. Among them was Margaret Sparrow, who is on the far left in the group picture at the top of this article, and who I first met in my first year at University, when I signed up for the Health Check offered to all first year students, and Margaret was the Student Health Services GP who checked me over.

John Homes, a former member of Kelburn Club, dancing Maxwell’s Rant with Dame Margaret Sparrow, a current Kelburn member. Photo: Loralee Hyde

As well as old friends, or, as someone would say, friends of long standing, there were new people to meet. One lass, on learning that I had once danced the Morris, told me she had danced Border Morris, and was hoping to find a side here in New Zealand.

John dancing Water of Leith. Photo: Kristin Downey
Johnsonville member, Loralee Hyde who is usually taking photos, dancing Water of Leith at the right. Photo: Kristin Downey
RSCDS Wellington Region President Ann Oliver presenting John Gregory with a Tribute from the Region to mark the enormous contribution of his time, creativity, carpentry and artistic skills. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Kelburn had been going for sixty-three years, and towards the end of the afternoon, John Gregory rose to give us a history of the Club.

Then, when he thought he was going to sit down again, Region President Ann Oliver came up to present John with an award for his many services to the Region.

After the last dance had been danced, and Chris and the musicians thanked for their efforts, there was a substantial supper laid on to refresh us all after our efforts.

I could not stay for long, as I had to get home to get ready to go out to dinner, but there was plenty for those who could stay.

Kelburn Club is now gone, but the memories will remain.

See more photos from Loralee and Kristin from this lovely afternoon of dancing

John Homes
23 June 2022

Capital City’s Birthday Night 2022

A great night, despite Covid challenges!

Capital City (formerly Island Bay) club has a long tradition of a celebratory Birthday Night dance, held this year on Thursday 26 May at the club’s home venue of Newtown School Hall.

Tutor Jeanette Watson designed an appealing programme combining old favourites, two more recent dances by local Wellington devisers, and one less well-known dance with a bit more challenge.

Unfortunately, Jeanette ended up isolating at home on the night of the dance, and club members Margaret Cantwell and Rod Downey stepped in, briefing the dances in her place.

The programme began with Newtown McDonald’s (think arches and fries, rather than clans), devised by Capital City club member Peter Beaumont for Elaine Lethbridge and the Newtown Juniors. Peter too was isolating at home, but everyone enjoyed those arches – they bring a sense of fun for dancers of any age.

Images below: Dancers enjoying Newtown McDonald’s, having plenty of fun dancing the arches!

The programme also included The Amateur Epidemiologist by Linden club member Andrew Oliver (who was in attendance), one of the dances in The Wellington 60th Anniversary Collection.

Andrew wrote the dance during the 2020 covid-19 lockdown period, depicting some of the changes covid brought to our lives. His dance finishes with a celebratory birl at the lifting of lockdown – very fitting for a birthday night celebration.

The celebration was made even better by a return to shared supper for the club. After many weeks waiting for the hall kitchen refurbishment to be complete, Capital City was pleased to once again be able to offer a hot drink and supper treats to members and visitors.

As with Tawa’s Hall Warming dance, Capital City attracted quite a few visitors. Amongst them were lots of Johnsonville members, with more than a set of our club’s dancers on the floor.

A number of Johnsonville dancers took to the floor to tackle the arches in Newtown McDonald’s!

Some of our members dance at Capital City regularly, others were drawn by the programme, the music, and the opportunity to check out the hall – which will be the venue for the combined Johnsonville-Capital City Annual Dance in August.

Lovely music from Natasha McFarlane, Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Sam Berkahn. Photo: Pat Reesby

The four-piece band added to the excitement of the night, bringing the hall to life. Club President John Jowett thanked well-known musicians Lynne Scott and Sharlene Penman, as well as new additions Natasha McFarlane and Sam Berkahn, for their lovely music. Two fiddles, keyboard and double bass made for a fine night’s dancing.

President: Kristin Downey

Kristin Downey
2 June 2022

Images of Newtown McDonald’s extracted by Loralee Hyde from a video taken by Pat Reesby

Tawa’s Hall Warming

Moving to a new club venue is not an easy thing, as Johnsonville club found when we moved from Johnsonville School Hall to Johnsonville Bowling Club in 2020 and then to Khandallah Town Hall in 2021, when this lovely, larger hall became available.

Once we’d settled in, we wanted to celebrate with our dancing friends. We were full of excitement when we held our first Tartan Night at Khandallah Town Hall in April 2021.

This year, Tawa club has made the big move from the Redwood Hall, where they’d been for many years, to Tawa RSA, and they too held a celebration.

I thought I’d have a quick look in old NZ Scottish Country Dancer magazines to see where else Tawa might have danced over the years.

Tawa club seems to have started out at the Scout Den in Oxford St in the 1960s, in 1968 discussed the possibility of changing their meeting-place to the (still under construction) Tawa College gymnasium but instead moved to Tawa Primary School in 1969, then to St Luke’s Church Hall (now Tawa Union Church, Redwood Centre) around 1997.

Interestingly, I did find a reference to the RSA Hall, in Tawa’s notes in the 1969 NZ SCD Dancer. It gives a picture of a time when Scottish Country Dancing was booming in the Wellington Region:

Last year’s (1968) formal saw 150 in the RSA Hall at Tawa. A good time was had by all, even by the people who had to stand all evening. … No major hitches unless you call catering for 120 when 150 turned up a major hitch!

Tawa didn’t get (and I’m sure wouldn’t have wanted) 150 dancers to their Hall Warming at the RSA hall last Thursday. It was however a very successful evening of celebration.

Robert Vale is a member of both Johnsonville and Tawa, and tells us all about Tawa’s big night.

Kristin Downey

Celebrating a new venue

On 7 April this year the Tawa Club departed from their old venue, the Redwood Hall, at the Johnsonville end of Tawa, which they were finding a bit restricted. They moved to the RSA Hall in Oxford Street at the Linden end of the village, a much larger hall with a good floor for dancing.

To celebrate their move, and introduce other dancers to their new venue, Tawa invited other clubs to join them on their regular Thursday club night on 19 May.

The Ngaio club who, like Tawa, dance on a Thursday, often share special event nights. Ngaio shifted their club night to Tawa for the occasion so they could all attend the Hall Warming. Quite a few of our members dance at Ngaio or at Tawa, meaning Johnsonville was well represented.

Pat, Robert, Maureen and Fiona were among Johnsonville members at Tawa’s Hall Warming

Tawa members decorated the hall with balloons for the night to give a ‘special occasion’ feel, and Catherine McCutcheon, the Tawa tutor, had chosen a programme of dances with appropriate names for a Hall Warming.

We started with the round-the-room jig Welcome to the Dance and later danced A Lovely Hall and Ways in New Hall. Some familiar names had been changed for the occasion, we danced Shiftin’ (Bobbins) and Best Set in the (New) Hall. Dances were walked to encourage everyone to take part.

Five sets, including Johnsonville members Isabelle and Bruce dancing in the centre, took to the floor

The Cranberry Tarts, a.k.a. Aileen Logie (on accordian) and Hilary Ferral (on fiddle), provided the music, dressed of course in cranberry colours.

The Cranberry Tarts, Aileen and Hilary

All the people I chatted with over the generous tea that followed the dancing had had a good time. It felt like a real celebration, not too formal, and a great chance to try out the new hall with five sets on the floor.

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos:
A Lovely Hall
Ways in New Hall
The Bucket Tree

Secretary: Robert Vale

Robert Vale
26 May 2022

Photos: John Patterson

Ngaio Club: The first Annual Dance of 2022

The Ngaio Scottish Country Dance Club celebrated their Annual Dance on 14 May, the first in the Wellington Region’s dancing calendar for 2022. Appropriately, the dance was in the Ngaio Town Hall, which club members had decorated with fresh greenery and tartan. A nice touch was the tartan banners hung round the walls, each labelled to show the clan whose tartan was on display.

In spite of Covid, inflation and all our other problems there was a great turnout, with six sets on the floor and lots of Johnsonville members in attendance. Melva Waite MC’d with her usual skill and the wonderful music was played for us by Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris.

Dancing Pelorus Jack to toe-tapping music from Jason, Aileen and Hilary. Watch Pat Reesby’s video of this popular dance (Pat is taking the video on the stage near Hilary).

The programme was made up of a host of familiar dances. Fortunately Rod had taught us more than half of them, as they were briefed, not walked. Everyone seemed to go well. My favourite was A Trip to Bavaria, with its music that sounds like a German band. It must have been popular with a lot of people because Melva let us do it twice.

It was a full programme with ten dances to go through before teatime. I staggered home with very sore feet when teatime came around but I had had a great night’s dancing. Most people went right through to the end.

Ngaio had a late start to their dancing year but they put on a splendid night and made us all feel very welcome.

Six sets took to the floor

The photos give an idea of the event. It’s not easy taking photos at a dance – when you get to fourth place in the set you’ve only 32 bars to whip your phone out of your sporran, glad a few pictures, put it away and be ready to be the third couple. In jig or reel time that feels like no time at all.

The last dance before supper, The Deil Amang the Tailors, with Johnsonville members Charles, Tomoko and Pat dancing at the left.

Robert Vale
19 May 2022

Photos: Robert Vale

A Fine Night of Dancing at our first Tartan Night for 2022

We had a great night’s dancing on Monday 11 April, with plenty of tartan on display – rugs and banners round the walls and ties, sashes, skirts and kilts on the dancers. Even our newest dancers turned up in tartan, a mighty effort.

It was amazing how quickly the Khandallah Town Hall was transformed into a Scottish venue for the night by all the willing helpers with drawing pins and Blu-tack. We were a bit short on ladders, so new dancer Ian was in great demand, his height being very helpful with pinning up the tartan rugs!

Saltires and a banner with Scottish lion rampant provided a great backdrop for our tartan-clad band, Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris.

Jason, Aileen and Hilary with a physically-distanced Rod at the right surveying the floor. Photo: Pat Reesby

Time (and lack of ladders) meant only a little of the club’s tartan bunting was on display, but it added to the atmosphere, perched cheerily on the balcony above.

The Club’s bunting high up on the balcony. Photo: John Homes

There were several firsts for 2022, our first Tartan Night of the year, our first night with a band on stage and Rod’s first night back after suffering with a Covid infection. We hope that Kristin will be with us again before too long.

Other firsts included Rod as ‘masked man’ briefing through his Covid mask, a great feat involving juggling both the headset and his mask. At one point the headset ended up under the mask, but he got it all sorted out.

Rod managing both his mask and the headset while briefing a dance. Photo: Robert Vale

In an ‘abundance of caution’ Rod confined himself to the stage all night. Thanks to teacher-in-training Maureen Sullivan, for taking the warm-up. And to those who made sure Rod didn’t miss out on supper goodies, handing up plenty of delectable tidbits along with his cup of tea at supper time.

Maureen leading the warmup. Photo: John Homes

Rod had taught us all the dances on club nights but it’s definitely a different experience to do a dance after a single walk-through, congratulations to our new dancers who all went really well. The club’s experienced dancers were happy to give them a helping hand when needed.

Enjoying the first dance, Bev’s Delight. Photo: John Homes
Dancing six hands round and back in the Birks of Invermay. Photo: Robert Vale

We were definitely ready for tea after the first six dances, thanks go to everyone who provided such a tempting spread. There were even rumours of fish and chips, but when the package was unwrapped it was full of delicious deep fried dumplings – a very tasty supper surprise.

Supper Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan presenting the most-welcome supper. Photo: John Homes
A supper for all to enjoy. Photo: Robert Vale

Back on the floor after supper, everyone continued having fun (despite the challenges of Corstorphine Fair), and lots of people stayed to the end and helped with the packing up. Another fine night of dancing.

New dancers Ian and Janet joining in the fine night of dancing. Photo: Robert Vale

Kristin Downey and Robert Vale
14 April 2022

St Patrick’s Day Celebration 2022

The club’s January Summer Ceilidh was cancelled this year due to Covid settings, so our St Patrick’s Day celebration on 21 March was the first club event of 2022, and a fine one it was.

People really got into the spirit of St Patrick and the Emerald Isle, with members and visitors alike each wearing their own shade of green.

It was great to see new dancers joining in so enthusiastically, with all sorts of Irish-themed accessories – think shamrocks, leprechauns, a bit of glam and a bit of fun. And fun was what it was all about.

A sea of emerald green. Photo: Robert Vale

As usual, Rod devised a programme of dances with Irish connections, some perhaps apocryphal (eg Lady Glasgow, rumoured by previous club tutor Marjorie Crawford to have been notorious for stealing money from the Irish, but Google provides no clues to the truth of this).

Also as usual, there were a few challenges amongst the dances, for both experienced and newer dancers – but it all added to the fun. It all started well with The Wild Geese, Rory O’More and Rod’s dance The Parting Glass.

Then St Patrick’s Day tripped us up a bit with its requirement for going hardly anywhere in 4 bars (twice), and the reels in Dougal of Shandon were definitely a challenge.

But what did it matter when we had such good company and music to set our toes a-tapping. Accordionist Aileen Logie started the way she meant to go on with a jig for our warm-up music, then gave us lots of Irish flavoured tunes to take us through the night.

Aileen did leave the stage to join in dancing The Parting Glass. However, we still danced to her playing of this evocative set of song tunes, courtesy of a recording she’d made with Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris.

Of course, it wasn’t all dancing and music, we also enjoyed a good supper, with a few special things on offer. There was green tea, home-made apple cake from Elizabeth Ngan, plus green and white apple sherbet lollies and no less than two shades of green serviettes and a lively green tablecloth.

Congratulations to this year’s beginners. They’d only joined us a few weeks earlier, and still managed to dance their way through some tricky and unfamiliar dances.

Thanks to Rod, Aileen, and the club’s more experienced dancers (and our visitors) who made sure everyone had a good time on the dance floor. The night finished with a set of very experienced dancers flying through that old favourite, The Irish Rover.

Kristin Downey
24 March 2022