Friday, 26 August 2016

Scottish Country Dancing – Johnsonville’s 50 Golden Years

Apart from a couple of short rides down to our local café, we have not done any cycling for a month. Various reasons – John’s knee has been bothering him (partly as a result of biking up Ngauranga Gorge at the end of a long ride); we are having major work done on our house – re-roofing, exterior painting and dealing with other issues as they are being discovered; and there’s a lot of Scottish Country dancing to be done at this time of the year.

On the subject of Scottish Country dancing, one of the SCD clubs that we belong to, Johnsonville, celebrated 50 Golden Years last Saturday. It was a great event, with lots of extra activities that don’t normally come into an “annual dance”.

All the current members were involved in one way or other in the preparations, during the weeks leading up to the big event, or on the night itself. President Kristin Downey’s organisation was worthy of a military campaign.

One corner of the hall was reserved for “official” photos. A special golden backdrop was set up as a photo booth. Tartan bunting decorated the walls, right around the hall. In another corner, a large TV was set up, showing a continuously looping slide show of club activities, dances and people involved in the club in the past 50 years.

Setting up the photograph booth, and hanging the tartan bunting (photo by John)

Members, past and present, gather to watch the slide show.
 It was cold in the hall, before dancing began, hence the coats! (photo by John)

The dance was preceded by a dinner for current members and special invitees. As people started to arrive for the dance, they were encouraged to sign the visitors’ book, stating which club they belonged to and what their special connection with Johnsonville club was (if any). It will make for a great record of the night.

Dinner for current members and invited guests before the dance (photo by John)

Signing the visitors’ book (photo by John)

The dance started with a “Grand March”, led by five pipers and a drummer from the Wellington Pipe Band. Grand Marches are done only for very special events. Couples line up behind the pipers (usually there is only one piper), circle around the hall, and as they arrive back at the front of the hall, the pipers stay there, and the “marshall” signals the couples to alternately go right and left. Each group marches up the side of the hall, to join as a foursome at the back. Foursomes march down to the front again, where the same right and left is repeated, ending up with eightsomes coming down the hall. Sounds complicated? Maybe, but lots of fun.

The Grand March – couples follow the pipers while circling the hall (photo by John)

The Grand March finishes with rows of eight at the front of the hall, ready to split into dancing “sets”.
(photo by John) 

Ready to dance, sets listen to the briefing by teacher and MC for the evening, Rod Downey
(photo by John)

Our dancing and biking friend Pat Reesby recorded several dances on video (photo by John)

The band consisted of two accordions, a keyboard, and two fiddlers, one of whom also played the mandolin (photo by John)

To show that SCD is not just for the grey-haired, there was a demonstration danced by
the Newtown Juniors, ranging in age from 5 to 18 years (photo by John)

During 50 years, the Johnsonville club has been taught by many teachers, and a great many more people have served the club as office bearers (presidents, vice-presidents, secretaries, and treasurers). A great effort was made to track down former teachers and office bearers to invite them to this special event, and many were able to attend.

After the cutting of the birthday cake, all former teachers lined up at the front of the hall, and were presented with a “golden” polyanthus plant, as a thank you and memento. Doing the honours of presenting the plants were current and some former office bearers.

As a former secretary, I got to present our current tutor, Rod Downey, with his golden plant
 (photo by John)

And so, back to the dancing. One of John’s best photos is of our current Tawa Club teacher Maureen Robson (who has taught at Johnsonville in the past), dancing with Ian Simmonds, who also taught at Johnsonville way back when. I think his record is more than 50 years of teaching, and he still teaches a group of people in his retirement village on the Kapiti Coast! Best proof that dancing keeps you young! Also in the photo are Tawa Club’s two youngest dancers, Charlotte and Catherine.

Maureen and Ian enjoy dancing “The Luckenbooth Brooch” (photo by John)

Swinging kilts! (photo by John)

It was a truly fabulous occasion: about 150 people attended, coming from all over the Wellington Region, and some from as far away as Christchurch and Whangarei. Twelve or thirteen sets (eight people per set) danced many or most of the eighteen dances on the programme, and others just enjoyed the music and catching up with old friends. Quite the best way to spend a Saturday night!

No comments:

Post a Comment