‘Take Your Partners’ with Sydney Thompson and His Orchestra was first broadcast on the BBC Home Service in 1948 and later to over 40 countries. Sydney, together with his wife Mary, became one of the main driving forces behind the phenomenal interest and revival of Old Time Dancing at the end of the Second World War. During the war, they were able to, despite almost impossible conditions, organize and lead regular dances all over London, even during the blitz and blackout. With little or no recorded music available Sydney had to take with him live musicians and sheet music, so he eventually formed his own orchestra. But he had a ‘Greater Ambition’ – The National Revival of English Old Time Dancing, something which had all but disappeared after the First World War. Another Great Luminary at that time was F.J. Mainey who was doing much the same as Sydney, but in the Liverpool and Thornton Cleveleys area. He went on to form the International Sequence Dance Circle (I.S.D.C.) which was the First National organization dedicated to the promotion & teaching of Old Time Dancing. This was very necessary and important because the dance teaching establishment had totally ignored old time and did not even consider it a “proper” form of dance – something only the old or infirmed attempted to do because they were unable to dance properly!
Theirs was simply walking to music with Novelties such as the Hokey Cokey, the Lambeth Walk or Conga. There was not even a Teaching Syllabus by which anyone could become a Qualified Teacher of Old Time Dancing.
The first thing Sydney & Mary did was to revive the Annual Ball of the Year which was held at the end of the season which used to run from September to May so the very first Ball was held at Wembley Town Hall in 1945 and was a great success. The next problem was to teach & promote the Old-Time style of Dances, the Ladies as ever were keen and willing to learn, but sadly, the Men were very unsure!!
So, Sydney devised a very gentle and graduated program using the ‘Walking to Music’ jibe made by his critics to his advantage. He used many of the old easy dances as Teaching aids, such as Yearning & Moonlight Saunters, the One Step, Marine Four Step, Barn Dance, etc., to get the dancers moving around the floor in time with the music, which gently programmed their minds with a sense of Rhythm & Timing. Very soon they were no longer “walking to music” they were “Dancing”, Sydney also discovered that Dancers performed far better to Music they were familiar with such as the Victorian & Edwardian Music Hall tunes & popular tunes from Pre-War days, so these became a regular part of his musical repertoire. Sydney had great confidence that this form of “Social Dancing” was exactly what post war Britain needed to re-establish communities where everyone was included and could join in from the youngest to the eldest. Old Time Sequence Dancing seemed tailor made for the job, and, as a result, thousands, if not tens of thousands of previously committed ‘non dancers’ happily became dedicated Old Time Dancers and many went on to become teachers themselves. The huge popularity of Old-Time dancing all across the U. K. after the war had the effect of forming the base of a huge pyramid which enabled all future forms of dance to grow and prosper. Eventually the dance teaching establishment were forced to recognize its existence and created a syllabus by which it could progress.
As a result of Sydney & Mary’s success they were invited for the 1946/7 season to Broadcast on BBC Radio with the great Harry Davidsons Orchestra on “Those were the Days” with the very first Dance Lessons – on Radio!! The following year, 1948, he was given his very own Radio Programme, ‘Take your Partners’, which ran for many years.
With the massive popularity of Old-Time the Ball of the year had to be moved to a larger venue – The Hammersmith Town Hall, then to the Royal Albert Hall but even this proved inadequate so in 1949, it was moved to the Royal Empress Hall at Earls Court in London, here 7,000 dancers from all over the U.K. travelling by special trains and coaches, had the unforgettable experience of dancing on the world’s largest dance floor, specially laid for this one night of the year.
Sydney & Mary have made many appearances before Royalty and had the Honour to appear at the Grand Ball for the Royal Household on a number of Occasions. Sydney was also Awarded the Carl-Allan award as the best Orchestra Leader of 1963 and received the award from H.R.H. Duke of Edinburgh at the Empire Ballroom Leicester Square.
He made his very first recording in 1949 on an old 78RPM record and went on to make many many more, some of which I have included on this C.D. together with many of his Happy Sing Along tunes for which he was Best Remembered – “Take Your Partners” SAV391CD available to listen or download – ‘Free!’ at savoy Music. CD available to members from Fred at £5 including post & packing. Cheques payable to ENOTDS, please.
Memoirs of 40 Years as an Event Organizer
By President Fred
I first got involved in organizing Old-time Charity Dances when I joined the Chertsey Rotary Club in the late ‘70’s and soon became a member of their Community Committee raising funds for local charities. I did a couple of small dances as starters, then organized a Grand Ball at Botley’s Park Hospital, Chertsey raising funds for their mental rehabilitation unit and school. They had a grand ballroom (as did many of the Mental Hospitals in those days – what a pity that most have been demolished as the hospitals have been sold off for housing!) and over 200 attended and danced to the Bryan Smith Orchestra with leaders Ted Burroughs & Sue Hillman (before they married) plus special guests Molly Sugden & friends – I remember it well as Molly pulled my raffle ticket out first and I thought great as the first prize was a weekend in Jersey – but to my astonishment she decided that the first prize would be the last on the table so I was awarded a ‘ladies hair-do’!! My late wife, Jo, was very pleased. The evening raised a lot of monies for the Hospital and was a great success so my fate was sealed, I had the job of events organizer.
Then, late in ’84, I was handed all the jobs for the recently formed Old Time Society and my first event was the Ball of the Year at Hammersmith Town Hall in May ’85. Some 330 attended (wouldn’t it be great if we could repeat those numbers these days?) and we had to put 2 rows of chairs around the Hall to accommodate them all. The main memory I have is the lady at the end of the evening, as I stood at the exit thanking all for attending, she was not happy as I had seated her in a corner “so don’t put us there next year because we are dancers!” – I am not sure what she thought the rest of us were!!
Some of the other problems I encountered over the years (as far as my old memory can recall) were –
In the early days I was naïve enough to always allocate a room with 2 single beds when I had a booking from Mr. Smith & Mrs. Jones only to find upon arrival at the Hotel, that I had a very unhappy couple waiting to see me because the room wasn’t what they expected. After changing our double-bedded room for a twin-bedded room on at least 4 occasions I soon learnt that never to take bookings as I would expect them to be but always to check if a double bed was required!!
A very senior lady booked a twin room for her and her daughter at the Southampton Ball weekend in April ’88. As we were settling into our rooms the phone rang and she wanted to know why they had a double bed and a single bed and not 2 singles? She couldn’t understand that she was allowed to sleep in the double on her own! Southampton Park was one of the few Hotels that had invited me to spend a night there before we booked our event. I accepted, so Jo & I booked in late in ’87, had dinner, looked at all the facilities, retired to bed. It was one of the most uncomfortable nights I have ever had. The mattress was like sleeping on a bed of pebbles. When I complained in the morning the excuse was that it was the only room that they had available and assured me that all would be well for our weekend – it must have been so as I had no complaints.
In November ’88 we ran a weekend at the Cumbria Grand Hotel in the Lake District. In those days I had a 2-acre field at the back of our bungalow so I booked a local coach and members parked their cars in the field and we made our way to the Hotel with over 40 members in the Banstead Coach. During the weekend there was an outbreak of food poisoning in the Hotel and most of the dancers suffered from this, I remember that I could hardly get out of bed on the Saturday and the numbers dancing each evening were very low. My feelings were not improved when, during breakfast, I was called out of the dining room by a member of staff and taken to the manager to be informed that Joan Nolan of Chelmsford, had died during the early hours and that her husband, Charles, would like to see me. A very emotional meeting, Charles didn’t want to spoil the rest of the weekend for the friends that were with him and asked me not to tell anyone until after dancing had finished. I abided by his wishes but I did get my ear bashed by his friends at the end of the evening! Leaving on the coach on Monday morning for our 6-hour journey back to Surrey which was horrendous. Over 30 of us were still unwell and I can remember David & Mavis Yates, who had not been poorly, running up and down the coach with sick bowls, tissues and water looking after us poorly ones. They did a great job of nursing us. A few days after getting home I had a letter from the local Health Board asking for full details of all the dancers and asking us to send them feces samples so that they could try and ascertain the cause of the outbreak.
For a weekend in September ’89 I had booked the Chester Town Hall for the Friday & Sunday evening dances, at the interval on Friday the Mayor came and thanked us for using Chester and invited us all to his Parlor for a sherry, over 100 of us, I am sorry to say that it never happened at any other venue that we used.
Each card was a set of Paine of Almack’s Quadrilles – published by H. Falkner’s Opera Music Warehouse of Old Bond Street.
Each card had 5 figures so with 16 sets it must have taken all evening to complete the whole lot. Their stamina must have been amazing – to dance 1 set of 5 figures is more than enough for me to complete these days. Fred.
Dancing in the 1880’s
by President Fred
Amongst a pile of old papers and dancing notes, that we have been given for our archives, I came across the following that I hope you will find as interesting as I did.
They all refer to the Tower Private Dancing Academy in Leeds that was run by Arthur Morris, the arranger of the Veleta.
As you will see from the following copies of photocopies of the notices the excursions took place on Whit Mondays at the end of the ‘Dance Season’. In 1888 the dancers had to be ready to board the horse draw coach at the Tower at 8.20am. and weren’t expected back at the Tower until 1am the next day and then still to dance for another hour. What stamina! Their day had lasted well over 17 hours and I assume some will have had to get up and go to work later that day!! I don’t think that I could have managed that even when I was in my prime. And all for 5 shillings & 6 pence (27 & half pence today). Equivalent today to some £25.
Quite a "mouthful" but it explained exactly our motives. The name was changed to The Old Time Dance Society in 2004/5. We have strived to keep old time alive by using the original music to the dance whenever we can. President Fred.
What is the future for Old Time Music & Dancing?
by David Griffiths
To answer that question, we must ask ourselves, what makes people dance in the first place? And, without doubt, it has always been the popular music of the day because music is a language all its own. It speaks and communicates with us in a very subtle way. It can take us back to a place of familiarity and belonging and reminds us of our past. It evokes happy memories and even makes us feel nationalistic, nostalgic, Christmassy, sentimental, or even romantic. Perhaps that is why most songs ever written were “love songs” – the so-called language of love. In fact, in the 1960’s, a survey was done asking people the question “Where did you first meet your marriage partner?” and a staggering 95% answered “on the dance floor”. That is how important music and dance was to society then. (Today it begs the question “where do today’s young people meet?”. It seems the answer is on one of the many internet dating sites).
This music continuum has continued unbroken for many generations with each new generation gently adding its own contribution and here is the point – it has always conformed to the accepted rules of the language of music and could easily be recognized and sung, hummed, whistled, or even danced to and the B.B.C. radio played a big part in popularizing dance music. There were 3 radio stations then - the most popular being B.B.C. light program – so called because it played light music, much of it eminently suitable for all forms of ballroom dance.
The big change started in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s when the language of music as we knew it, started to change into something very different indeed when the so called “rock & roll” generation began to emerge. At first it seemed quite harmless, just youthful high spirits (just much louder and more vulgar). Many people (myself included) thought it would not last and normality would soon return, but we were all wrong.
This new language of pop music had an insatiable desire to dominate everything, particularly the medium of radio. When it failed it responded by illegal means by broadcasting pop music from a so called pirate radio ship off the coast and so radio Caroline first started to broadcast at Easter 1964. By 1967 there were 10 pirate radio ships broadcasting nonstop “pop” music. These proved so popular to the young generation that mainstream radio, including B.B.C., had to give in and started broadcasting non-stop “pop music” 24 hours a day. Within a few short years it had all but swept away the old music continuum and replaced it with a totally new musical language which many people could not relate to or understand.
In the 1960’s it was called “R&B”, “folk rock”, “antiwar” and, like many viruses, mutated into “funk”, “disco”, “soul”, “Motown”, “hip hop”, “grunge”, “rap”, etc.
There are now more than 600 licensed radio stations broadcasting in the U.K., the majority playing non-stop “pop” because that is what people seem to want.
It is like tuning in to a foreign language radio station and not being able to understand a single word (or note). The language of music which has been in place for generations has now been replaced and as the old music passes – so will its dance.
This new musical language is so very different as are the way people attempt to dance to it. Firstly, you do not need a partner, nor dance shoes or ballroom or dance floor – a farmer’s field in Glastonbury will suffice. Learning the steps is not necessary as you simply transfer weight from one foot to the other in time with the deafening beat, whilst simultaneously fist pumping the sky. There are no specific dance holds as such, although one can often see the gentleman hoisting the lady astride his shoulders whilst they then both continue “dancing” fist and feet. This dance position clearly has several useful functions, firstly, the lady gets a far better view of the stage, secondly, when it rains (which is quite often) the lady acts as a shelter for the gent’s head & shoulders and thirdly, he saves the lady from sinking up to her knees in the mud.
Such joyful pleasures do not come cheap either as a 3-day ticket for this year is £335 (bring your own tent and food) and it is already a ‘sell-out’.
This clearly is the popular music and dance of the present. It is not just a different language, it is a different world, a world in which there seems little place for our kind of music and dance – only if we sit back and do nothing - which is why we must all do whatever we can to 'Keep old time alive'.
Editor's Note - the very first ‘Old Time Society’ was formed at a seminar in Clifftonville in Kent in 1984, organized by David & Wendy Griffiths and was known as -
From the Archives
by David Griffiths
Old-time Dancing has been very popular since before the turn of the last century (1900), although it went through a period when it was said to be sleeping in the late 1920’s & 1930’s. But at the end of the Second World War it experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, so much so that it became the most popular form of social entertainment in the country, going from strength to strength. All these years later we still struggle to explain its success!
Whilst looking through our archives I came across the following letter printed in an ‘Old-time Magazine’ from 1950 which gives us some insight and understanding as to how and why Old-time dancing became so popular. It may touch your heart as much as it did ours –
Dancing - 1922 – 2022
by David Griffiths
Within a few weeks we will be welcoming in a New Year – 2022, and it seems an opportune time to look back one Hundred Years to 1922, because this was the year that the Tango finally gained acceptance and respectability. It was the year that 2 of our Greatest and Best-known Tango’s were invented, with Arthur Wantling’s “Lola Tango” and Adele Roscoe’s “Royal Empress Tango,” which gained a First Prize at Blackpool.
Two years earlier, in 1920, there was a New and Vibrant feeling in post war Britain with growing interest in the Tango Rhythm when people started to experiment with the dance. The Square Tango was first danced in 1920, its origin uncertain, plus the Gypsy Tango emerged with at least 3 different sequences becoming popular. One by Arthur Wantling, another by Charles Daniels and another by John Evans.
10 years earlier, the Tango was viewed by many with much distaste and suspicion, probably because of its disreputable origins in South America, so it would almost certainly have offended the late Victorian and Edwardian moralities and sensitivities still prevalent at the time, as a result, Secret Tango Tea Dances became very popular with the “High Society” of the day, behind closed doors (and curtains). Little is known about how these early Tango pioneers would have danced the ‘Argentine Tango,’ as it became known in 1912, although we may have a clue because that Great Old Time Entrepreneur of the day – W.F. Hurndall (inventor of – Maxina, La Rinka, Hurndilla, & Donnybrook) would have attended these early clandestine Society Tango events.
The very next year, 1913, he released one of the earliest Sequence Tango’s, aptly named ‘The Society Tango’, a typical Hurndall 24 bar sequence with great music, specially written by Thurley Beale. In these early years written scripts of the steps were virtually unknown, so the inventor illustrated little pictures of dancers to show what was intended.
Unfortunately, the very next year, 1914, saw the outbreak of World War 1, so the Tango fell from favor until after the war and emerged in a much more acceptable form.
The delightful original music for the Society Tango was recorded in the 1940’s by Harry Davidson & His Orchestra and is still available on SAV387CD – Old Time Habanera Tango’s edited & remastered into a 16-bar version together with the original music for Lola & Royal Empress Tango’s, plus others (Free Download).
From these very early beginnings the Old Time Tango has gone from strength to strength and now, 100 years on, is still one of Britain’s most popular Sequence Dances with the Lola & Royal Empress just as popular as ever.
As you will see from the copy of the next poster that by 1889, they had taken advantage of the new railway and were travelling by train at a reduced cost of 3 shillings & 6 pence (the train being a lot cheaper that the Four in Hand). Fred.
The Ball in ’97 was at St. George’s Hall Exeter with Ted & Sue Burroughs leading. It did not get off to a great start as the late John Payne was looking after the leaders and took a tray with their drinks on up to the front of the stage before proceedings commenced, only to jog with the tray as he offered the drinks and Sue received hers strait from the tray and down her dress. Fortunately, it was something that didn’t stain so she was able to continue.
For the March AGM in ’99 I booked the Great Hall at Rochdale Town Hall, visiting the venue in ’98 I was surprised when being greeted by the Bookings Secretary to be taken first down to the basement to see the Victorian sanitary ware in the Toilets – they were still in pristine working order and a fantastic example of excellent Victorian design and workmanship.
TAKE YOUR PARTNERS with SYDNEY THOMPSON & HIS ORCHESTRA
By David Griffiths.
The Ball in ’95 was at the Dacourum Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead – I left our hotel early to be at the venue before anyone else and to make sure everything was in order – what a good job I did as when I arrived, they had placed tables and chairs all over the floor and left just a small dance area in front of the stage clear. This entailed removing over 50% of them to off floor to make room for the dancers when they arrived. I was in trouble as, already being in evening dress, I caught the rough edge of one of the tables on my trouser pocket and tore the seam from pocket down the leg for some 9 inches, thank goodness for the safety pins that I carried in my shoe bag, in case of emergencies, they kept me decent for the whole evening.
In September ’95 I organized a trip for 40 of us to spend 3 weeks in Canada as the guests of the Richmond, Vancouver, Dance Group whom we had entertained in this country the year before. The holiday was a great success but got off to a terrible start, we all arrived on time at Heathrow Airport for our Air Canada flight. A small group of us left my place in Addlestone at 11.30. On booking in I was informed that our flight had been cancelled because the plane from Canada had been damaged by a fork-lift truck in Calgary and there was no replacement. We were then split into 2 groups and accommodated on an American Airlines flight and another flight and sent to Chicago, here we had to wait some 2 hours for an onward flight to Calgary. We were due to arrive in Calgary at 18.16 but with the diversion didn’t arrive until 21.12 – travelling time over 16 hours, everyone was getting very tired and down-hearted. But luckily, we had a great reception from our Canadian dancers who had waited over 4 hours to welcome us. Lots of flag waving, hugging and laughter which made us all feel that much better. Fortunately, the rest of the holiday went well.
16 Set Quadrilles
by President Fred
A little while ago I was handed a small bundle of 16 stiff cards some 3” long x 2” wide with gold leaf edging. Clipped on the front was a hand written note “Almack’s Rooms, King Street, St. James’, London, opened Feb 12th 1765”.
by David Griffiths
I expect, like me, that many of you will have been shocked and saddened by the death of our Queen on 8th September. None of us are immortal, and at such a great age it was inevitable that this sad day would eventually come. Although I had hoped that she might take after her mother and reach the century milestone and perhaps even ending herself a 100th birthday card.
In June this year we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of her Majesty’s succession to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6th 1952. Unfortunately, we can no longer celebrate the 70th anniversary of her Coronation on 2nd June 1953. But we do have a Coronation to look forward to next year, that of King Charles III on 4th June.
The Coronation year of 1953 produced many new dances to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Starting with the ‘Coronation Waltz’ which was devised by the Council of the Empire Society of Teachers of Dancing. Then came the ‘Queen Elizabeth Waltz’ by Alex Moore & Victor Sylvester (who also composed the music) and the ‘Queens Own Waltz’ by Jacquline Gaux. The great Old-time Orchestra leader Sydney Thompson & his wife, Mary, arranged ‘A Waltz for the Queen’ which was listed as ‘Televisions New Coronation Dance. There were also two Coronation Saunters, an Elizabeth Saunter and one of my own favourites – ‘The Royal Saunter’ by Holland Brockbank, which we always danced to that delightful tune ‘Don’t Tell a Soul’. Other Coronation dances include ‘The Coronation Tango’, ‘Coronation Two Step’, ‘The Coronation Glide’ by that great old-timer F.J. Mainey, the ‘Coronation Polka’ by Frank Noble & Nora Bray, who also had another success in 1953 with the ‘Pride of Britain Waltz’ but perhaps they are best remembered for their iconic dance the ‘Wedgwood Blue Gavotte’ in 1959. Another popular two step weas the ‘Queens Two Step’ by Bill & Phyllis Groves, there was also the ‘Elizabeth of England March-Minuet’ by Nora Bray with music composed by Hayden Wood and the ‘Queens Quadrilles’ by Jack Crossley.
Earlier I mentioned the ‘Coronation Waltz’, by the Empire Society TD. Looking through my archives I came across another ‘Coronation Waltz’ by Charles Daniels but on closer inspection this dance was to commemorate the Coronation of our Queens father, King George VI on 12th May 1937.
So, with the Coronation of King Charles III next year, we can no doubt look forward to some new Coronation themed dances for 2023.
The Future of Old Time Dancing
by President Fred
I am reluctantly concluding that it is inevitable that if we want our Traditional Old-Time dances to survive then we are going to have to 'bite-the-bullet' and include more and more of those Old-Time dances that re regularly danced most weeks at Social Sequence Dances – namely – Mayfair Quickstep, Broadway Quickstep (popular version), Georgella Blues, Sandy Swing, Iris Foxtrot, Melody Foxtrot, Harry Lime Foxtrot, Saunter Together, Balmoral Blues, Lilac Waltz, Pride of Erin Waltz, Tango Serida, Tina Tango, Square Tango, to name the most regularly danced.
Plus, the slow waltz's that were included in old time programmes before Modern Sequence and all the new dances took a foothold on the dance programmes in the 1950's & 60's – Catherine Waltz, Waltz Marie, Woodside Waltz.
Even have to include some of the very popular Classical sequence dances of recent years such as – Let's Swing, Variety Swing, Lace Agate Swing, Saunter Shiraz, Hatty Boo Blues, Birmingham Blues, Tiger Eye Tango, Tayside Tango, Alpine Stroll, and the like.
It is a fact of life that the local Traditional Old-Time dances that are run on a Saturday evening or Sunday Afternoon on a monthly basis are struggling to survive with attendances often falling below 20 which does not make for a viable proposition. Putting 50 pence or a pound on the entry price helps but what we really need for a good atmosphere are 'bums-on-seats!'. It would be great to hear your ideas. Suggestions from any of you will be greatly appreciated and let us see if we can 'buck-the-trend!' I very much look forward to hearing from you.
Following on from Part One and David Griffiths’ article ‘What is Old Time? What is its Future?’ it was queried as to why we should consider including the slow waltz in our programmes. My answer is that we always used to so why should we not consider reintroducing them to our programmes? To help us understand what dances were being included by Old Time Clubs at their Old Time Dances and Balls in the 50’s & 60’s I rooted in my archives and found the following programmes from which I include the slow waltzes that were included –
16.11.54 – Huddersfield Baths – Harry Davidson Orch. - W. Marie
23.02.62 – Todmorden Town Hall – W. Marie; Dream W.
29.09.62 – Airscrew Addlestone – W. Marie
27.04.63 – Airscrew Addlestone – W. Marie
17.10.64 – Seymour Hall W1 – Magenta W.
24.04.65 – Airscrew Addlestone – Bryan Smith Trio – W. Marie
26.03.66 – Airscrew Addlestone – Bryan smith Trio – Sylvellen W.
21.09.67 – Walton-on-the-Hill – Catherine W; Caravelle W.
28.10.67 – Airscrew Addlestone – Bryan Smith Trio – Woodside W.
18.11.67 – Walton-on-the-Hill – International W; Catherine W.
30.12.67 – Redhill OTDC – Rose Lane Waltz; Catherine W.
28.09.68 – Airscrew Addlestone – Woodside W.
19.10.68 – Epsom OTDC – Sylvellen W; Moonlight W; Caravelle W; W. Marie
I was not overwhelmed with your replies to my request for your thoughts on this subject – in fact I had just 2 letters – the first from Di Edwards of Marlborough – she writes –
“From a personal perspective it could be said I am an experienced “Old Timer” or I am new to “Old Time”. I am in my seventies, possibly at the younger edge of those attending Old Time dance clubs regularly. However, I have danced in one form or another since I could walk. My father ran a dance club in the 1950’s and taught the Old-Time dances of the day and at the age of 9 to 12 I would partner him along with my mother. Sadly, he died when I was 12 and the club struggled on for a while.
But with teenage years I moved into ballroom and Latin with my friends and went through the medal system. All very enjoyable. Some years later I married but my husband has never had any interest in dance so I chose to return to ballet and tap and also line dancing, all things I could do on my own.
However, come my mid-sixties my knees had had enough of the impact of tap and I was living in a new part of the country so sought out some Old-Time dancing. I was amazed to hear the many familiar names of dances I had done so many years previously although I could only remember the sequence of the Veleta and Military Two Step until I saw the specific dance performed when it would come back to me. I heard many dance names I hadn’t heard before but picked up each sequence as quickly as I could. I was unaware when it was originally scripted and didn’t really care as long as I enjoyed dancing it.
But surely that is the point of attending a dance - to enjoy what you are doing? Many sequences I have done are graceful, many are energetic, many make me think a bit harder and many are sheer fun. But they are all (well mostly!) enjoyable (even if I go wrong and can laugh at it!). So, what is wrong with introducing new sequences? We may find we enjoy those too and learning them keeps the brain ticking over which is vital as the years gallop by.
If the Old-Time clubs insist on being purist and always do what they have done for 60 years, or however many it is that various people think it is since it all started, newer, younger people will not be attracted to get involved. The very name will put off younger generations. Call it Classical Sequence, Modern Sequence, Round Dancing - what you like. It is all the same steps in a different order! We see every newsletter reporting another dance club has closed due to lack of numbers and this will continue as our members age and don’t move with the times.
We have to devise ways of introducing our sort of sequence dances to the general public. Beginners classes are a good idea but they have to be well advertised and not too serious. How many people do you see at venues even now who do perfect steps? They get around the floor to a routine but how good is the footwork? Does it matter? Not really as long as they learn the dance and get around the floor - and enjoy it.
Since returning to “Old-Time” dancing I have regularly danced all those dances mentioned in Fred’s article in March. As far as I was concerned, they were “Old Time”. I recently listed out all the dances I have done at the 4 different clubs I have attended in the last year and they numbered 106. They are a mixture of scripts from the beginning of dance to those still being issued. Except for one or two that I find a bit boring they all provide enjoyable exercise which is surely what it’s all about. And much as I enjoy music from my youth to sing along to there are many versions of more recent music which can provide the tempos for sequence dancing, another carrot to tempt younger generations to join us.
I do not intend to offend any dancers reading my opinions but I want to continue attending sequence dancing for as long as I am able. And unless we tempt younger people to join us our type of dancing will disappear when we all do. So, let’s be more adventurous with our dance choices so that we, and others, can really leave an exciting legacy for others to continue to enjoy dancing as we have for many years”.
The second is from Pamela Lang of Enfield and she writes –
“I have to agree that encouragement to the ‘middle-aged’ group is desperately needed and having been there and done that myself feel the inclusion of the more popular slow waltzes would not go amiss. I would draw the line at anything remotely Latin and certainly not start teaching dances every week that would not be seen again even if they were voted quite good by the club members. I know a lot of dancers who have given up because they were sick of learning new dances that after a couple of weeks were never seen again.
Unfortunately, I will probably not be around to see what the future of dancing will develop into, but can only hope it continues to give as much pleasure as it has to me in the last 70 odd years”.
Both these letters reinforce my thoughts that we should include the occasional slow waltz in our programmes. As for what to call our old-time I am not so sure – it was old-time when I started in 1947 and I still call it old-time today but am happy to change if an alternative is agreed. As old-time was the original sequence dancing albeit in 16, 12, 24 or 32 bars, maybe the term ‘Popular Sequence’ will be acceptable?
Whilst our Treasurer, David, was searching the web investigating some old- time music he happened to come across the following article and asked me to expand on it a little more – so here goes –
In 2005 I wrote the following for the BBC’s ‘WW2 People’s War’ project -
“At the time of VE Day in 1945 I was just 12 years old and lived with my family in Chapel Avenue, Addlestone, a small town in northwest Surrey. My father was in the Home Guard and my friend, Bryan Smith, lived in the same street, and his father was an Air Raid Warden. Bryan was very musical and played the piano accordion and later went on to become the conductor of the BBC Radio 2 Ballroom Orchestra at the Maida Vale Studios.
Chapel Avenue had some 40 homes in it and ran parallel with Chapel Grove, with another 40 homes, and they were joined across one end by Chapel Park Road with 20 homes. The occupants of these homes decided to get together to celebrate the Victory in Europe, and formed the Star Social Club. The Club held many Social events and held them in Chapel Park Infants' School, which stood at the corner of the Avenue and Park Road.
Bryan, who was regularly appearing at the local music halls, would get together with my uncle, Jim Westbury, also from Chapel Avenue and who also played the piano accordion. They would play their marching and sing-along tunes and all of us children and our parents would march behind them round the square which was formed by the Chapel roads and the High Street. We would then finish up at the School for our social evening.
Old Time Dancing was very popular at this time, with dancing in the town on Tuesday evenings at the Weyman's Motor Bodies works, and on Thursday evenings at the Airscrew factory, where they made propellers for the Hurricane fighter. Mothers took their sons to the dances, as there was a shortage of male partners due to them being away in the armed forces. There was also a long night once a month on Saturdays at each venue. The music was always provided by a minimum of a Trio up to an eight-piece Band. The ladies always wore long dresses and gloves that went up to their elbows. It was nothing to see a young lady cycling to the dance with her long dress all wrapped in front of her, so that it did not get entangle in the wheels. We had a Master of Ceremonies but no floor leaders; you just got up and followed the couple in front and hoped they were doing it right. You always danced in a circle around the dance floor. The only time that there was an encore to a dance was in the progressive ones. These were very popular as were the set dances.
The Old Time Dancing was so popular as it provided a welcome relief from the many problems of the day that the civilian population were suffering. The favourite dances of this time were -
Waltz - Veleta, Imperial, Doris, La Rinka, Pride of Erin, Tango, Florentine, St Bernard's, Chrysanthemum, Spanish & Kings.
Tango - Royal Empress, Lola, Donella, Square, Fascination, London & Society.
Foxtrot - Society, On Leave & Ladbroke.
Saunter - Moonlight, Yearning & Starlight
Two Step - Boston & Military
Set dances: - Lancers, Quadrilles, Waltz Cotillion & Dashing White Sergeant.
Others: - Eva Three Step, Marine Four Step, Donnybrook, Barn Dance, Latchford & Highland Schottische, Maxina, Mississippi Dip, Esperano Barn Dance, Jazz Twinkle, Palais Glide, Lingering Blues, Gay Gordons & Shag.
Others danced in Party social Dances included - Balling the Jack, Lambeth Walk, Okey Cokey, Jitterbug & Hands, Knees and Bumps-a-Daisy”.
I have tried hard to find more information and pictures of the time without a lot of success; the only picture I have is the same one that June Smith used in her book on the life of Bryan – The Wandering Minstrel – it shows Bryan leading a Victory Parade unfortunately Jim Westbury is not in the picture and I don’t recognize any of the children.
Brian (the ‘i’ was changed for a ‘y’ when he became famous!) and I started school, at Chapel Park Infants, on the same day in 1938, I being just 6 weeks older than he and we remained good friends for many years. As teenagers he would organise a yearly football match with the ‘naughty boys’ school in Chertsey and he always asked me to be one of the full backs. We lost touch for a while as I was doing my National Service from April 1951- in the Royal Army Medical Corps- and spent over a year in the Middle East whereas Bryan did his 2 years from mid-1952 (again in the RAMC) based in London. Upon getting back to dancing after being demobbed in 1953 it was not long before our paths crossed again.
Whilst I was researching the BBC WW2 People’s War site I came across a story by Deryck Feather of the Yorkshire Dales, I have know Deryck for many years from his time as the ‘Dales’ Area Rep for OTDS, in which he paints a very similar picture of the dances that were being danced in 1945 he writes “The dances, as far as I can remember, were old-time - St Bernard’s Waltz; Veleta; Pride of Erin; Boston & Military Two Step; Maxina; Eva Three Step; Dinky One Step; etc, plus Foxtrot, Quickstep, Modern waltz, Hokey Cokey, Palais Glide, Conga and sometimes the Lancers.
If any member can throw any more light of this subject, I would love to hear from them.
My Dancing Years
by Brian Faulkner
My first recollections were of hearing the Harry Davidson radio broadcasts playing “Those were the Days” this would have been around 1950. Then, around that time, the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) did a royal tour to Canada, during which she and the Duke went Square dancing – this became a craze and it swept the country. I suppose I was about 12/13 and was dragged along by my parents to learn to square dance at two local halls which also ran Saturday old-time dances. The caller at one of the clubs was also a “leader” at the old-time section and he decided that as the Lancers & Quadrilles were sets of eight that he would introduce them into the square dancing.
My Mother by then, felt that square dancing was getting to strenuous for her years and talked my Father into 'having a go' at the old time. They then went to a couple of Saturday dances and I was again dragged along as they rightly considered that I was safer in their sight than at home, probably smoking and getting up to all kinds of mischief.
I recall how my mother complained that most of the ladies wore long dresses and she was unable to see the ladies feet to follow their steps – needless to say she didn't possess a long dress. In those days all the ladies wore long gloves and usually had stoles as the halls were cold in winter, the men's suits were warmer in those days being of wool or worsted materials. In Summer the men came off worse as if you were unwise enough to remove your jacket without the MC announcing it, you were asked to replace it, all the men wore the white gloves – this was traditional and in those days the ladies dresses were not washable and not many could afford to keep taking the garments to be dry cleaned, so it was a good idea.
On New Year's Even most of the ladies HAD to have a new dress to wear and a lot of bitchiness went on! The long gloves and satin shoes worn by some were dyed to match the dress. I was roped in and found I wasn't too bad at it! Plus of course, I loved the old tunes, my upbringing was almost Edwardian as at Christmas the piano was aired by lighting a fire in the chilly rarely used 'front room' and one of the aunts brought the music satchel and played the piano and many of the tunes we had at the old-time were sung – as everybody was expected to sing.
I was apprenticed for 5 years and of course the wages were dismal and eventually my parents bought me a dark grey suit and I wore a black clip-on bow and of course the white gloves. I was very proud of the outfit. We ha no car in those days but luckily the two halls we used were within walking distance of home – but when I think of it, I used to walk to the girlfriends' house (half an hour) pick her up and walk to the dance then do the same in reverse order at the end of the evening! Later in the 50's my father learnt to drive, and we had a black Austin Cambridge car.
At most of the Saturday dances you had a band and if you were really lucky then an orchestra, you also had leaders and a Master of Ceremonies (MC) who announced the dances, organised the sets (most times I seem to remember also calling them).
In those far off days, most people smoked, and the ladies use to unbutton the pearl buttons and put their hands through to smoke – and it was the man's job to stub the cigarette out when finished. A lot of the ladies (and the men) used violet flavoured cachous to take away the nicotine breath (or peppermints).
I had, by then, met a girl somewhat older than myself and we danced together for quite a while, then decided to take our medals as we were envious of another young couple who went for lessons and their dancing improved dramatically, so we went for lessons and then took our medals – bronze, silver, gold and then every gold bar to six gold bars standard. It was hard work and we both worked in the day and then either practiced in the evening or went to our lesson in Watford or went to one of the clubs.
By then the ladies' skirts had risen so feet could be seen, but now the ladies had masses of net petticoats on hooped slips so getting into the back seat of the car was quite an adventure at times. My partner had a massive competition dress made and I was talked into buying a made to measure tail suit. It's only when you try and get near your partner to dance, that masses of net get in your way and it has to go through your legs – unfortunately my partners white net dress had silver lame' and sequins and I think I stripped them off with my legs! The dances in those days always started with plain old-time waltz also finishing with a plain waltz, we loved it as it was a chance to practice. You always had two set dances, the energetic one in the first half and a waltz one in the second half, in the waltz one people sang along to the tunes as that generation knew the words and so sang as they danced – miss that now as the waltz sets are rarely done. Each week in the local paper or in Dance News there was at least six dances you could attend, mostly with a band. Some places you had to put your name down for tickets and places like John Lyons & Hoovers tickets went like hot cakes. I recall going to a dance at Seymour Hall, which was vast and had underneath the floor a swimming pool.
Sydney Thompson was playing, and it was packed. Once a year at Watford Town Hall we had an Old Time Ball celebrating the crowning of the Carnival Queen it started at 8pm and finished around midnight but often ran a lot later. We had two intervals and the carnival queen was crowned and presented with gifts – we still had the journey back to Harrow, so it was a late night. We occasionally went to the asylum in Leavesden and it was a creepy experience as we were escorted to the hall and passed a closed balcony ringed with barbed wire and we were told that it was the violent patient's domain.
The well-behaved patients could sit at one end and watch the dancing. I am not sure if it was in that hall, but we went to watch an old-time competition there one Saturday and the winner and the second were young tall people and it was a joy to watch them dance – sadly not long after we heard she had been killed in a car accident.
The first club I attended was at an obscure religious hall in Masons Avenue Wealdstone and had lofty pitched roofs and the section between the tube lighting and the roof was just a dark space, the floor was more knots than wood and it had gas radiators for heating. The music was 78RPM records on a powerful 1940's radiogram and it was all Harry Davidson music, it was usually packed, and it had a very good atmosphere. Some of the dances we did have vanished and we no longer have scripts for the “Forget-me-not Saunter” and the “Midnight Saunter” - rather sad really.
As time went along so new dances came on the scene, with different tempo's (the start of Modern Sequence) and we danced the 'Waltz Marie', the 'Magenta Waltz' and even the Jacqueline Cha Cha, we must have looked strange in evening dress with our white gloves!! Several others followed and our club was asked to vote as to whether we should include them in the old time – most voted for inclusion and the road to ending old time had begun, walked away from dancing at that stage and within 10 years old time was gone. When some years later I came back on the scene I danced Ballroom & Latin for some years before, purely by chance I learned to m amazement of a dance at Borehamwood, which was billed as Old Time, and had Bryan Smith playing the music,. So, it was back to the style of dancing that I loved.
What is Old Time? What is its Future?
To answer this all depends on who you ask, when you asked, where you ask, the term is very inexact as it means different things to different people at different times. When this style of dancing became widely popular towards the end of Queen Victoria's Reign it was considered that the starting point was when Arthur Morris's "Veleta" became immensely popular quickly followed by other similar dance styles such as Boston & Military Two Steps, Fylde Waltz, La Mascotte Gavotte etc. It wasn't called Old Time in those days it was called "Round Dancing" for obvious reasons and all footwork & technique was based on Ballet, adapted for the Ballroom. The Holds were invariably "Open Hold" - That is at arm's length, something left over from the Victorian protocol of strict propriety on the Dancefloor between sexes although a welcome improvement on the Old Protocol of each couple being chaperoned by 3 other couples as in the Set Dances such as Lancers & Quadrilles.
All this was about to change during World War 1, when new dance rhythms and music became popular, firstly there was the Saunter, then Foxtrot, One Step and in the early 1920's came the Tango - a Latin American Dance in Old Time? All these dances had parallel foot positions and were NOT danced in Open Hold. Things were changing fast, because The Roaring Twenties style of music & dancing had swept away nearly all other forms of Social dance, but this chaotic vaccum led to the formation of the very first Governing Body to regulate & control all aspects of Ballroom Dancing, The Official Board of Ballroom Dancing - but shamefully, they never considered "Round Dancing" had any place in their elitist circles and so it was ignored. Fast forward 20 years & during World War 2 there was a massive new interest in Round Dancing, Particularly the older styles (maybe because of the War).
The problems were considerable as there were very few scripts, little recorded music and of course No Qualified Teachers. At first round dancing was ignored by the Ballroom Elite as a poor form of social dancing and was only done by old people, old hat, old fashioned, so referred to it in a rather derogatory way as "Old Time", but it's popularity went from strength to strength all over the U.K. Surprisingly, this revival of Old Time was led entirely by talented amateurs assisted by anybody who could remember any old dance. Sometimes Musicians or Band Leaders acted as M. C's and so these early efforts were very much a D.I.Y. affair, but the public loved it and within a few years they included a few Modern Waltz's, Foxtrots and Quicksteps, in fact anything in sequence was considered old time in those days.
Eventually old time became so big and popular, that it became an embarrassment to the Governing Body of Dance, so they were forced to change their stance and acknowledge and recognized Old Time as a proper dance form. Soon, people become Qualified Teachers in Old Time which led to medal tests, competitions, championships, but all of this required a new syllabus to be created in old time with guide lines for teaching new definitions so that everybody knew what the new standard should be. Unfortunately, the ballroom elite whilst being superb dance technicians had little idea about the rich history of Old Time and so they applied Modern Ballroom Techniques & Principals to old time which effectively left many old established dances on the wrong side of the divide and created a 2- tier system and much confusion which exists to this day.
However, the vast majority of social old-time dancers were oblivious to all this. They knew little and cared less about any artificial divides created primarily for competitions and carried on dancing whatever dances were popular by the people who really matter - the Ordinary Dancer! I well remember in the Mid 1960's through to the early 1980's, Old Time programs always included "Modern Waltz's" such as "Marie" (1948) "Patricia" (1954) and "Catherine (1956)", as well as Foxtrots & Quicksteps, some even included yet another "Latin American Dance" Rumba Royal (1965) & Rumba One (1971). These were all included in many programmes as "New" Old Time (just like the New Latin Tango's back in the 1920's). By the early 1980's, Old Time was being swamped by a Tsunami of new Prize-Winning modern dances and old time was disappearing at an alarming rate and I was reminded of what that Great Old Timer, Sydney Thompson, said way back in 1956 'Reasoned Variety Leads to Great Pleasure, Uncontrolled Variety Leads to Chaos' and how right he was!
We therefore decided to form an Old Time Dance Society to give old-time a platform to protect & champion its Unique needs and this was Established in 1984. In the early days many members (out of the best possible motives) set about protecting old time by discriminating against any dance they felt was not (in their opinion) old time, some did this by dance category, others by the year of the dance, but all this achieved with all the differing opinions was even more chaos, some disgruntled members even wanted "outlawed" dances which they have been dancing for decades, Reinstated!! What these actions did achieve however was to put a "Freeze" on any future development & Evolution in Social old time which might have happened, as it had in past decades.
So, what is the future for Old Time Dancing as we know it? Ballroom Dancing has been relegated to "Spectator Sport" thanks largely to the T.V. Program 'Strictly Come Dancing'. Modern sequence is in serious decline, and with the present generation of old-time dancers slowly diminishing, and with nobody to replace them, there seems a certain inevitability about its future. But there is a group of Dancers who it seems, are able to buck the trend. They are often referred to as Popular or Social Sequence, for want of a better name, and their formula is quite simple, they take the best bits of old time together with the best bits of old sequence.
These dances are often organized and run by talented amateurs with the support of friends, sometimes they are organized and run solely by a live musician, who not only plays, but acts as M.C. as well, very much a D.I.Y. affair - Sound Familiar? That's exactly how the great revival of old time began in the early 1940's. Often these dances are referred to as 50/50 dances (half old time & half old sequence) although, on closer inspection, the split is often nearer 70% old time, but what makes these dances so surprising is that they often get up to 100 in attendance, clearly, they must be doing something right as people are voting with their feet.
So - Is this the future for Old Time? What do you think?
Many, Many Congratulations to two of our Members - Harry & Sheila Youlton who have in 2018 been awarded the top award in dancing - The Carl-Alan Award.
Often called the "Oscars" of the Dance World. These are awarded annually, honouring people who had made an Outstanding contribution to dancing.
The Carl-Alan Award was first presented in 1953 and was named after the joint Chairman of the Mecca Entertainment Co. - Carl Heimann & Alan Fairly.
This is a Great Achievement by any standards so we asked Harry & Sheila how they managed to achieve so much.........
After a successful Amateur career, we turned professional in 1964 ad are now qualified in Classical / Standard & Latin styles of dance, as well as being Qualified Scrutineers.
We have had our own Dance School since this time, and teach all aspects of dance, to all levels, (especially Sequence, Modern & Classical) to both children & adults (including those who have special needs), with our qualified staff.
We have organised & adjudicated County and National Championships and Inventive dance competitions, Including competitions abroad.
As well as taking part in "Come Dancing" and demonstrating on ITV Channel 4's dancing programme's, we also acted as MC's for Radio 2's dancing programme's for Classical / Sequence & Latin styles with the late Bryan Smith's Orchestra.
Under the direction of firstly Mr. Wilfred Orange and then Mr. Roger Billington, we organised the Butlins Inventive Dance Competitions, until 1990 when the "Butlins Organisation", withdrew their interest in Inventive Dance Competitions, but gave us sole right to do so, and allowed us use of their corporate name and advertising, to run these events. This we still do!!!
We taught on P. & O. Cruise ships from 1976 until 1999, only stopping when Harry, suffered ill health.
We have served on area dance committees, and actively supported local charities, such as Wessex Cancer and Air Ambulance.
On May 18th 2018 we attended the Carl-Alan award ceremony and we were overwhelmed when it was announced that we were awarded the "CARL-ALAN" "OUTSTANDING CLASSICAL SEQUENCE PARTNERSHIP AWARD"
Out Motto is "Be Happy - Come Dancing"
Harry & Sheila Youlton
Pam & Brian's Birthday Celebrations
To celebrate Pam's 90th Birthday, a special surprise Party Dance was organised by her Daughter, Family & Friends, to be held at Theydon Bois Village Hall on Friday 14th September 2018.
Chris Everitt had the unenviable task of secretly organising the Dance, Invitations and providing the Music whilst Brian Faulkner had the even more difficult task of escorting Pam to the venue at 2.00pm - without giving anything away. Both Chris and Brian must have done a superb job, because right up to the moment she walked through the doors to a packed hall to the singing of Happy Birthday she seemed blissfully unawares and was left speechless (well almost!). A superb buffet was also provided and it was a wonderful afternoon of Celebration & Dancing.
Two weeks later, on 29th September, another Celebration Dance was Organised for Brian Faulkner's 80th Birthday, this time at a packed Hemsby Village Hall in Norfolk. Once again it was a wonderful evening of Celebration & Dance with yet another superb buffet provided. All Proceeds & Donations raised during the evening were given to the East Anglia Air Ambulance, and a fantastic £585 was raised. Happy Birthday Brian and Pam from all your many friends.
David & Wendy Griffiths
We asked Pam if she would kindly share some of her memories of Old Time Dancing over the years - these are her recollections -
Pam Lang Celebrates her 90th
I started dancing at school 'hops' in the 1940's and then at the local Church Hall with service men home on leave. Sadly my mother was widowed in 1946 and persuaded me to go with her and her dance partner to the Royal at Tottenham in London. A young man introduced himself to me as Ted, and asked me for the first Waltz, and I had to tell him that I had never danced Old Time before, but he guided me around the floor, and, asked me for every dance after that. I had a really smashing time and did not have to be dragged back the next week. After about 6 weeks, Ted asked me to go to a Saturday dance with him and so started several years of very happy dancing. We did not have a car in those days, so it was all public transport, but we were still able to go to all the big dances in the area - Bryant & May in Poplar, London - May & Baker in Dagenham as well as Old Time Dances in Ilford, Stoke Newington, Hornsey, Hammersmith & Slough, and on one occasion with Bryan Smiths full Orchestra - frequently having to run like mad to catch the last bus or train home.
Ted & I, Married in 1953 and went on to have two children, Richard & Barbara, and as Ted was keen to carry on dancing, we had to organise babysitters, so my mother, his mother, my sister, or his brother & countless friends helped us out, and if we went on a weekend, we would take them with us.
We joined the Westdown Club in Leyton, London and gradually the modern sequence crept in including Latin which Ted thought wasn't dancing! But I happily did Jives, Cha-Cha's & Rumba's.
The club moved to Walthamstow and Ted became Chairman and organised dances at Leyton Town Hall and a Dinner Dance at Alexandra Palace, plus many others, including a New Years Eve Dance at High Beech in Epping - it was in deep snow where we all had to get out and push the car up the hill on the way home.
After several mini strokes, Ted had to give up dancing and sadly died in 1995. After a while I continued dancing and went to the Abridge Club, where Irene Faux the principal, and would every so often, organise a competition. I've never been interested in medals or competitions but Bob persuaded me to partner him in a Serene Saunter Competition and he skillfully guided me through bars 9 & 10 - which should be in close hold - and not in double hold; as a result we were the only couple to dance it correctly and Won!! One or two feathers were ruffled that day I can tell you!!
By pure chance, I went to the Oak Tree Club, Cockfosters, on one occasion and met up with Brian, who was looking for a dance partner, so once again I landed on my feet and we still dance together today.
Even though I have health problems, which tend to slow me down a bit, I look back at my Dancing and all the friends I have made along the way. Although my Son died in 1999, I have been blessed with a truly great Daughter & Son-in-law, 3 Grandchildren, all married & Great Grandchildren too - Truly Blessed.
Footnote from President Fred - I remember meeting Ted with Pam in the early 1980's at the Charity Dances organised by Harry & Betty Wall at the Long grove Hospital in Epsom as well as at the ISTD London & Home Counties annual dance in North London. He was a lovely man and a pleasure to have known.
Report from Alberta, Canada
Airdrie, (which is approximately 20 minutes north of Calgary) is a very nice reasonably new place to live but ballroom dancing does not exist here. In Calgary there are some competitive dancing studios, but their social dances have some tempos we have never heard of. We have become friendly with the President of Alberta's DanceSport Association. This is the Alberta modern competitive association which is part of Canada DanceSport and help him with arranging their modern competitions.
We decided to start to look for a venue with the idea of doing Modern Ballroom and/or Old-Time dances in Airdrie. There were not many decent halls to use, apart from the Museum, but all of them wanted us to have insurance, which would cost between $500 and $1,000 per year, which we considered out of the question for obvious reasons.
In March 2017, the museum agreed we could open a 10-week modern ballroom class with no insurance. In the autumn we did two further 6-week Latin courses. We did not consider them too successful regarding numbers. Then we managed to get involved with the 'Over 50 Club', who agreed that we could use their premises on a Sunday evening to hold modern dances. We gave the people the opportunity of some instruction and general dancing, but only about 9 turned up and they wanted instruction most of the time! We also gave them a couple of line dances and some Old-Time. However, for the sake of caution, we called them "fun" dances, we hoped that if there was eventually enough interest we could revel it as Old-Time. From June to September was their Summer Break. In September we re-started the weekly dances again on Sunday evenings which we hope will continue as a community attraction. Fifty registered.
On the Old-Time aspect we visited some senior's residential buildings in Airdrie and spoke to the managers and provided flyers with explanations of what Old-Time was, but only one couple showed any interest. One venue allowed us to do a presentation in a beautiful hall, but everyone sat and watched from behind their walking sticks and aluminium walkers. However, one of the caretakers managed to get one lady up to dance.
The present situation is that we are waiting for October 17th to do an OTD demonstration at a large Senior's Centre in Calgary, who seem keen enough for us to do Old-Time dance classes in the New Year (2019). We tried the Calgary branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dancers Society to advertise Old-Time at their Highland Games the first weekend of September. Ruth Jappy, of Vancouver, often shows Old-Time at different RSCDS workshops she attends in Canada. We also had a small announcement, in a local free magazine, for our dance at the 'Over 50 Club'. The publisher of the magazine called "Airdrie Life" wants to interview us with her in a few weeks to find out who we are and our history, together with what our plans are for dancing in the community of Airdrie and area. Hopefully this will show an article in detail for the magazine's next issue in December (2018). We will explain the Modern and the Old-Time styles and their differences and that they are both great for physical and mental exercises particularly the Old-Time.
In other places, Edmonton has an Old-Time class run by a Scottish country dance teacher and we attended one of these last year and it went well. Unfortunately, Edmonton is a three-hour drive from here. We also found a group in Calgary who do western two step style of dancing (nowhere near our style of two steps) that it calls "pattern" dancing. They have a repertoire of 63 dances including 11 Old-Time Dances, but, so far, we have only seen three that are danced the same as we do them. The others are completely different to UK versions. Some of their pattern waltzes are played at 52 or 56 bpm! They have played the St. Bernard's Waltz at 60 bpm. When we asked if we could teach a dance we were denied because they wanted to stay with "pattern" dancing but then, immediately after, they did the Lilac Waltz exactly the same as we do! So, we will sign off now and leave readers to decide what the difference is between Old Time and Pattern dancing. In the meantime, we will continue to endeavour to get ballroom and OT dancing known here.
Dave & Norma Stevenson, Airdrie, Canada.
The Missing "e" by Nigel Carter,
Chairman Old Time Dance Society
There has been much discussion amongst dancers on the spelling of Wedgewood in the Wedgewood Blue Gavotte. Some people and books have it spelt Wedgwood like the pottery and others with the extra "e" - Wedgewood. I consulted with past President Fred Boast and our archivist Grahame Baldwin to try to find out what the correct spelling should be, and they provided me with background information.
One of the arguments for the supporters of spelling it without the extra "e" is that the music normally used for the dance is spelt without the extra "e".
The music was written by Albert William Ketelbey (9 August 1875 - 26 November 1959) who was an English composer, conductor and pianist, best known for his short pieces of light orchestral music.
In 1920 he wrote "Wedgwood Blue" - A Dance. However, this music was written some 39 years before the Wedgewood Blue Gavotte. I believe it was released in 1949 by Sydney Thompson for the "Moonlight Saunter" on Parlophone R 3222. Since then it has been recorded by several artists for the Wedgewood Blue Gavotte.
The Wedgewood Blue Gavotte won at the 1959 Official Board of Ballroom Dancing's Annual Congress where is was called "Wedgewood Blue". As can be seen the extra "e" is in the title. I was surprised to discover that the music recommended for the Wedgewood Blue Gavotte on the original script from the competition was Fairy Tiptoe by Julian Fredericks and not the "Wedgwood Blue" by Albert Ketelbey. Fairy Tiptoe was recorded on a 78 by Harry Davidson.
The British Dance Council and its members such as IDTA, UKA, ISTD, etc. spell the dance with the extra "e" like the original script. The Official Charts for the dance issued by the British Dance Council spell it Wedgewood. It should be noted by reference to the original script the title of the dance is "Wedgewood Blue", with the word Gavotte being in brackets and not "Wedgewood Blue Gavotte".
I also discovered there is another tune called "Wedgwood Blue" written by Pam, Oliver and Sam Wedgwood in 2004 for the piano but this is definitely not gavotte.
I still don't know why the Wedgewood Blue Gavotte was not originally spelt the same as the potteries without the extra "e". It is rumoured it was to avoid trademark copyright issues. If any member has a definitive answer on this perhaps they could let me know.
Nigel Carter, Chairman Old Time Dance Society
*Footnote by President Fred - after receiving the request from Nigel for information on the subject I also investigated it fully. I wrote to the secretary of BDC for information and the reply was that Wedgewood has an 'e' in their rule book; Michael Gwynne in his book of 1971 and Cecil Ruault in her book of 1963 both spell it with an 'e' but Charles Crathorn in his book of 1963 and Walter Whitman & Victor Silvester in their book of 1967 all spell it without the 'e' - it would seem it is all a matter of choice!*
Englands Olde Tyme Dance Club
The Club held its first dance on December 15th, 1951. Regular weekly dances commenced in May 1953 and, at that time, due to considerable numbers two sessions were held separately for juniors and seniors. The juniors grew away over the years, but the seniors have continued until this present day. Since 2016 our numbers have decreased considerably due to members health problems and those who have left us to join the heavenly ballroom. We have tried various schemes to encourage more dancers to join us; initially with some success but have dwindled since. So much so that as from November 2018 we have decided to run the dance on the third Friday of the month, 2 till 4.30pm and to continue through 2019 but not Good Friday if it clashes.
We are not ready to give up yet after 65 years which may qualify us for the longest running Old Time Club? We very much hope that the new arrangement will keep the Club going for many more years yet!
Christine Gutteridge, Chippenham
Mayor & Mayoress of Chester with the giant kangaroo that they were raffling for his charity
By early 1914, Harry was starring in various Vaudeville shows at the famous Hammersmith New York Theatre, which was being converted into a Movie House. As an added attraction between film changes the Manager decided to put on a Song & Dance act, and they selected Harry Fox and his Company to put on a show. Also, because of the increasing interest in Ballroom Dancing, the Roof Garden at the Theatre was converted and opened up as the “New Jardin de Dance” where they held nightly dance contests and gold cups were awarded to Winners. As part of Harry’s stage routines and performances he started to introduce a series of Trotting steps and improvisations to the popular “Ragtime” music of the day, which amused and fascinated the audience and word quickly spread of his ‘Routines’ which people started to copy, and refer to as “Fox’s Trot”.
Wishing to capitalize on this, the Management introduced “Fox’s Trot” at the roof garden. Such was the success of this that, by September 1914, the American Society of Professors of Dancing proposed to standardize the steps of the Foxtrot as well as other dances.
Meanwhile, in England, World War 1 had just started and the popular dances of the day were – Latchford Schottische, La Rinka, Pride of Erin Waltz, Mississippi Dip & Marine Four Step to name but a few. Many people had heard of the new Foxtrot but very few had actually seen one danced. In 1917 a young lady from Burton on Wirral, called Mary Cheshire, decided to devise a New Old Time Sequence Foxtrot – quite a challenge as there was no precedent to follow for either dance steps or appropriate music.
Having completed her 16 bar Sequence, she then had to find a piece of suitable Music to demonstrate her dance, exactly which tune she chose for her dance is unclear, but the tunes most commonly associated with Mary’s Foxtrot were – “Poor John” from 1906, “Hoity Toity” from the stage show of the same name and “Baby Tank” from 1917/18, all of which were played extensively by the great Harry Davidson Orchestra on his BBC Radio Programme “Those Were the Days” from the 1940’s until 1960’s.
In 1918, Harry Davidson was a young 25-year-old Orchestra leader so perhaps he remembered the tunes of his youth?
Meanwhile, Mary Cheshire had to think of a name for her new Foxtrot, and as her young man, who was fighting for King and Country in the Great War, was coming home “On Leave” the choice seemed obvious.
The On Leave Foxtrot – one of the very first Foxtrots in the Old-Time repertoire was a huge success and has remained popular ever since.
FROM THE ACHIVES – how the Foxtrot got its name
by David Griffiths
The Name “Arthur Carringford”, is not one that most of us have heard of, yet he went on to become synonymous with a type of Dance and even added a new word to the English Language.
He was born in 1882 in Pomona, California, the son of an actor, and played professional Baseball and went on to become a Circus performer for a short while but his first love was Song & Dance, so he adopted the stage name “Harry Fox”, after his grandfather “George L Fox", a celebrated Circus performer of the day, and moved to New York where he got a job in Vaudeville as a Song & Dance Man.
Arriving at the Carlton Hotel for our Ball weekend in Cheltenham in May ’90, we checked that the dance floor that had been laid in the function room for our Friday evening dance was in order only to find that it was in an awful condition and no good for dancing at all. Luckily one of the members attending the weekend worked at the local aircraft factory and was able to arrange for us to hire the large canteen at their Recreation Centre.
In April ’91 – I remember having to stop Bryan Smith and a member coming to ‘blows’ at the Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke. We had just finished dancing the Blue Danube Waltz and the member was not at all happy with the speed that Bryan had played it at. The stage had grand semi-circular steps in front and I just managed to stop him before he got to Bryan at the piano, it took me a while to calm the member down.
Our weekend in North Wales based at the Kinmel Manor Hotel, Abergele, in September ’92 started with us being stopped from entering the Hotel by security guards until John Major (before he was a Sir) had completed his political rally, then, dancing at Bodelwyddan Castle on the Friday evening, to Philip Randles, a dance had just finished and we walked back to our tables and chairs when an older couple from Norfolk sat down at the table next to us and the lady slipped to the floor and passed away, we called the emergency services but they were unable to help her. We got Philip to carry on with the programme whilst Area Reps, Tom & Joyce Bell, took the husband to hospital and back, and looked after him. He asked if he could stay the rest of the weekend as he just didn’t know what to do with himself, so we agreed.
In May ’93 I organized the Ball of the Year at the Winter Gardens in Margate, all went very well until the end of the Ball. The times on the Ball ticket were ‘from 7.00 to 11.30pm’ – we got through the programme a little quicker than we should have and Bryan played ‘the Queen’ at 11.23. As I was thanking those who had attended, I received a lot of abuse for finishing early – this taught me never to put a finishing time on the programmes again.
In September ’93 I organized the Wirral Weekend with Tom & Joyce Bell using the Leasowe Castle Hotel as a base. We had made an inspection of the Hotel and venues to be used earlier in the year. What a shock we got when, watching the news on TV about 3 weeks prior to the weekend, to see a report of a fire at the Hotel. After a few frantic phone calls, we were assured that the damage was to the conference wing and had not affected the accommodation reserved for us. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the weekend due to my wife Jo’s deteriorating health problems.
So that was a snap-shot of what Old-time dancing was like almost 75 years ago. Notice – no Record Player, probably because there were so few, if any, suitable recordings of Old-time dance music were available either.
We must also remember that they were living in a time of extreme ‘post-war’ austerity with food rationing, power cuts, shortages of every kind, but they did find something very special in their Old-time dancing which they not only enjoyed but needed as it made them feel happy, contented, and satisfied even in these most difficult of time. Maybe the simple pleasure that they found in socializing with friends and neighbours at their Old-time dance clubs is one of the big things missing from society today!
President’s note – I can completely agree with the last paragraph as it is exactly as things were in Addlestone in the late 1940’s. Fred.
In May ’99 I booked Hove Town Hall for the Ball & Sunday dance but couldn’t have it on the Friday so was looking for a venue. Portslade Town Hall was recommended and available so I booked it. Unfortunately, it only danced about 60 and over 100 turned up. They were sitting in corridors and adjoining rooms and the dance floor was certainly overcrowded. I don’t think I danced a step that evening spending most of the time in the kitchen preparing and serving refreshments. I did get a lot of stick from the dancers so another lesson learned – never book a venue on recommendation, always visit and inspect before booking!!
I booked the Peter Civil Trio (highly recommended) for the Pre-AGM dance at Princes Hall, Aldershot, in March 2000. I made contact with Peter, the drummer, who organized the Trio he assured me he had played with the Bryan Smith Orchestra and knew all about the special Old-time dances and their music. When they got onto the stage there were this elderly gent drummer, a very matronly looking lady playing piano and a large lady dressed like a ‘Gypsy Dancer’ playing violin. They played for the first waltz which was just passable but the next dance, a Saunter, we had to stop them as the 4 bars into was iffy and they then played for some 10 minutes without a stop. The late Geoff Elderton & I took them into a back room and explained what music was needed but they were unable to understand so we paid them off as, luckily, the leader, Richard Purcell, had his spare cd player & cd’s in his car so the evening was saved.
I am sure that there are a lot more tales that I could tell so I will delve into my old scrap-books and photo albums and collate some more for another time – Fred.
Clive Hughes of Colchester writes – “Hello Fred - after reading your article about lockdown listening, I thought I would reply -
It might interest you to know that I have never danced a step in my life and my interest is solely in the music - I used to be in a military band and also played in dance bands - hence my interest and joining the Society - it saddens me that there are very few, if any, traditional Old Time Orchestras left and although I can appreciate the good work done by the organists it is just not the same. (I doubt whether anyone would be able to afford a full orchestra anyway these days).
So, my choice is based purely on the music and no specific occasion –
1. Tango - Lovely Doris
2. Tango - Fasinatin' Tango by Bernard Monshin, who composed several lovely Tangos
3. Two-step - Austria
4. Two-step - Woodbine Willie
5. Gavotte - The bells of St Malo
6. Veleta - Queen Mary
7. The Marching Lancers
8. Waltz Cotillon - Fairy Dreams
9. Waltz - The Choristers
10. Waltz - Florentine (Original)
I agree with you Clive regarding what the cost of an orchestra would be these days. The last one I booked was the Empress Orchestra in 2009 and that cost around £3,500.00. Fred.
It would be great to hear from any of you with your choice of 'Lock-down Listening' - Fred
Hit the dancefloor to keep body AND brain in shape!
by Fred Boast
This was the heading of an article in the Daily Mail on Saturday 13th March by Doctor Michael Mosley.
He wrote that after all the restrictions are lifted, he intends to go to Zumba classes with his wife. He also reported that a few years ago he teamed up with researchers from Coventry University to look at the impact of Salsa dancing on the brain. They put 27 amateur dancers through a range of cognitive tests before a Salsa session. They found that when tested afterwards that they saw improvements in many areas of brain function, including visual spatial working memory (which one uses for navigating familiar locations, etc.)
In a more recent long-term study, researchers from the Centre for Neuro-degenerative Diseases in Magdenburg, Germany, asked volunteers in their 60’s to take up dancing, once a week, for 18 months, or do a more traditional form of exercise. Brain scans showed that both groups experienced an increase in the size of the hippocampus in the brain, an area that plays a big role in memory and learning – but this change was more pronounced in the dancing group!
The researchers suggested this is not only because they were getting their hearts pumping, but they were also having to learn new dance routines, which is challenging for the brain in a good way.
Let us hope that there are many people in the community who have read this and think that they would like to give it a go, this would certainly help counteract the recent fall in numbers causing many groups to close. We need some sort of concerted advertising! Any ideas? Fred.
MY MUSICAL LIFE
by David Ingley
During one of my many conversations with Fred during ‘Lockdown’, he asked me to write an article about my career and how I got into playing for Old-time Dancing, as he said “it will find you something to do”, so here goes:
I started to play the organ when I was ten years old, the interest came when my Dad purchased our first organ for him to play, he had a few group lessons at a local music shop. Progress for him was a little on the slow side, not helped by the fact that ‘Ingley Junior’ was looking over his shoulder and making what he was trying to do look quite easy. Dad soon stopped his lessons and arranged for a private tutor to teach me at home. A few months later, whilst on a family holiday, I won a Holiday -camp talent competition, which encouraged me further and I started to do some local performances for senior citizens clubs and venues on a semi-professional basis whilst I was still at school.
One of the venues I had appeared at quite regularly was our local Royal British Legion Club at Kingswinford, and on one such occasion, an entertainment agent was in the room, and she showed quite a bit of interest in giving me some work. I was a bit young for it at only fourteen years old, but she said the experience I would gain from it would be most useful. Quite a few of the bookings were in social clubs, which involved working with other older musicians and accompanying singers and backing cabaret performances which did wonders for improving both my sight reading and playing by ear skills. On one agency booking, I arrived at the venue without too much detail about the function, only to discover that it was a ballroom and sequence dance, which I had never had to do before. Luckily, I always carry a large bag of music with me, and fortunately the entertainment secretary at the Club was very helpful and full of knowledge about dance tempos and what sort of tunes were required, so he gave me a list of dances, tunes, tempos and guidance to get me through the night. I must admit, although having to work quite hard, sight reading a lot of the tunes for the first time, I did get quite a buzz from seeing people up dancing and enjoying themselves and quickly came to the conclusion that this could be a good avenue for the business to develop. Little did I know on the night, that playing for dancing was going to form a large proportion of my work for years to come.
I continued with my own music lessons and in the eighties and early nineties I obtained grades in organ, piano, and music theory, and this culminated in passing my grade 8 electronic organ exam with honours.
I had also started to give organ lessons myself to a few students, one of them is still with me today, he must be a glutton for punishment - or maybe I am just a bad teacher!
In 1983 whilst attending the National Home Electronic Organ Festival in Hemsby I won the teenage section of the talent competition which resulted in me being offered junior spots at several festivals throughout the country.
On leaving school at sixteen in 1986, I took the plunge and became a full-time professional musician. The number of bookings for dance work was steadily increasing and I was starting to perform concerts at organ clubs and festivals. In those days, the big organ festival was at Pontins Morecambe, where I performed my first professional festival concert playing to an audience of nearly two thousand people, a fantastic ‘shop window’ for a young organist. I have been involved in the organ festival scene ever since, both as a performer and heavily involved in production and stage management.
Playing for dancing continued to grow and I was playing more and more for sequence dancing. My first Old-time Dance came because of playing for a gentleman by the name of Ray Lennox, a dance leader at a Gloucester Sequence Dance. Back in May 1990, Bryan Smith was due to play at the Ball of the Year weekend at Cheltenham Town Hall for ‘The Society for The Preservation and Appreciation of Old Time Music and Dancing, (now The Old Time Dance Society), but was unable to appear due to his revised Cruise commitments. Fred was now on the look-out for a replacement and he contacted Ray Lennox for a recommendation for a suitable musician. Ray passed on my details and Fred got in touch.
When I told Fred that I had not played for Traditional Old-time before, he arranged for me to play at New Haw Community Centre in Addlestone to gain some experience. He sent me sample programmes, music, and many recordings, to give me an idea of what it entailed. I was amazed at the difference in the style of the music, compared to playing for sequence dancing, so I set about finding the appropriate music that was required. A lot of it was not available in print, but recordings were, so I started the job of writing out hundreds of tunes and arrangements to suit the various dances, as you can imagine it has taken years, but it has been such an important part of my Traditional Old-time musical path. I played at my first Ball in Cheltenham, I remember being quite nervous at the thought of standing in for Bryan, who was the master of Old-time dance music, his playing with the orchestra was of course first class, it really gave me inspiration. Having been fortunate to meet him on a couple of occasions before he sadly died, he was always most encouraging and helpful to me. The Ball at Cheltenham went well, and it must not have been too bad, as I have been playing at Old-time Balls and Dances regularly on numerous occasions since.
Many things appeal to me with Traditional Old-time Dancing, firstly the music. It is so varied, I love playing the Old-time original tunes, Wild Roses for the Chrysanthemum Waltz, the Imperial Waltz and Moonlight on the Nile for the Moonlight Saunter are among my favourites. Lively brass band styled two-steps like Sousa’s Washington Post and Jimmy Shand’s Dancing Dustman, make a lovely contrast to delicate classical items such as Trumpet Voluntary as a gavotte. Without a doubt, the most fascinating part of Old-time music for me is the set dances. I have always been fond of playing them all, the Lancers, Quadrilles, Caledonians, the D’Alberts, etc, they are all great.
I’m also thrilled to have had the chance to play at some magnificent venues with Old-time over the years, the Winter Gardens, Weston-Super-Mare, the Kings Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, the Marine Hall, Fleetwood and the Pavilion at Llandrindod Wells for the Victorian Festival are among my favourites.
We have also visited many places that we would not have had the chance to see if it wasn’t for the Old-time Dance Holidays, we thoroughly enjoy our stays at some great hotels, the Kensington Hotel, Llandudno, is of course one of our favourites.
Something that also became very noticeable in playing for Old-time, is the enjoyment that dancing brings to people, when you get a group of people together that all enjoy the same interest, the atmosphere and sense of belonging is magic, we have made many friends over the years at these wonderful social events, and the most important aspect for any musical performer is giving pleasure to others with your music.
I was also fortunate to meet up with Wendy & David Griffiths, from Savoy Music, through Old-time, I had recorded quite a few CD’s on my own DGI Music Label and a couple with Maestro Records. In 2008, I was delighted to join Savoy, and have released quite a few recordings with them. My first for them was my Old-time CD ‘Take Your Partners’, which I was really pleased to record, as it features many of my favourite tunes for Old-time. I even composed one myself on this recording, the encore to the original for the Royal Minuet, which I called Regents Parade, I was delighted when it was well received by the dancers.
When Fred, Joyce, David, Wendy, Mike, Kathleen, Mike & Pat set up the English National Old Time Dance Society I was honoured when they asked me to perform at their events. I am pleased to still be able to play for them as often as I can, I have been working for Fred now over thirty years. There have been many times when the words “I’ll just give Fred a ring” is heard in our house when I need some Old-time help, it is a good job he doesn’t charge for it!
Nowadays, I play for Ballroom, Latin American, Modern Sequence, Traditional Old-time, and a little bit of Line Dancing, most of the dance work are social dances which feature popular sequence, as well as some Old-time favourites. I still do a lot of concert performances at the various organ societies and festivals. I always try and include some Old-time music in my concert programmes. It always goes down well with the listeners, it is different for them to hear, and it gets the music out to a wider audience. We produce some of our own Musical Breaks which are concert events at Bewdley, (some with the Association of Organ Enthusiasts, of which I am Vice-Chairman) and under our own company DGI Music Ltd, also at Bewdley and at Llandudno too. This involves a lot of work both as a player, master of ceremonies, and setting up the impressive stage sets, lighting, cameras, and screens for our visual presentation. It is hard work, but we enjoy it. We also run our local Organ Society in Kingswinford where I have been President for over twenty-five years and more recently Chairman as well.
My teaching has changed from years ago when it was all on electronic organ. It has expanded quite a bit now, almost all for Piano lessons, with some electronic keyboard and music theory. Some of my pupils take music exams with Trinity College London, and we do occasional concerts for Charity.
I do not have a lot of time for hobbies, I’m lucky to have a job where I’m at my happiest when I’m working. We do like going to Big Band and Orchestral concerts, we really enjoy the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, when the John Wilson Orchestra or the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra are appearing. I also enjoy getting to the coast regularly, our favourite holiday destination is the Isle of Wight, (let us hope all goes well for next April at the Trouville Hotel, at Sandown).
It has certainly been a strange year, my last performance was at the Mayfair Hotel in Bournemouth, for ENOTDS in March, this year should have been a busy one, but it cannot be helped. Since the ‘Lockdown’, I’ve found a keen interest in gardening, I’m now in charge of weeding, watering and picking up falling petals, I shall have to try and keep it up when things get back to normal.
Myself, Diane & George, (the roadies), look forward to meeting up with you all as soon as we can all get socialising again and doing the things we love so much, I hope by the time you read this I might be back on the road again.Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all members of the English National Old Time Dance Society. David Ingley.
Efforts in Alberta, Canada
The only thing that I can tell you about what is going on over here in Airdrie (25 minutes driving north of Calgary) is that the Airdrie Over 50 Club continues to be closed as we cannot do any activities there even though we have no more than 100 casualties to Covid-19 since March in 70,000 people. However as we are both on the Executive we know that the Club is considering purchasing a "steriliser" which will disinfect 6,000 sq.ft. area including all vertical and horizontal surfaces and everything in between during a time of 1 1/2 hours. This will necessitate to have that amount of time between the various activities. The machine is supposed to send out a mist that spreads through the room and its quality is supposed to be much more superior in effect than that required buy both the provincial and federal government's regulatory requirements especially for Covid-19.
However the Calgary group called the Gliders [which do the "Two Step" dancing - not the same two step style in OTD (Its like doing chassies all the time (QQS)] has opened up again. All attendees have their temperatures taken, wear masks, sanitize one's hands and sign a waiver, to get into the ballroom. Then we have to take our own cups for a drink of water, sit on a pair of chairs 6ft form the next set, dance only with our own partner which means no mixer dances, stay minimum of 6 ft behind the couple in front of you around a rectangle of chairs, around which we have to circulate the dancing. So far this is going well. The number of couples has varied between 8 & 11 couples per week. it costs us $10 per couple per month. There does not seem to be any concern in about dancing into the previous couples "breathing" space. So far no casualties. Everyone seems happy about it. Unfortunately the pandemic is really spiking again and Alberta is currently the highest case numbers in the country behind Ontario and Quebec so if it gets any worse, which is possible, I suspect we may have recreation buildings closed again.
I was speaking on the phone to the Club's Executive Director some weeks ago on another matter a few weeks and casually asked her if she had any evenings free. She asked me what for. I replied that I wanted to know if there was an opportunity to do some OTD. This was at 11.00 a.m. and she countered with can you come and see me about it at 1.00 p.m. which really surprized me. My reaction was "I'll be there". After I arrived we spoke for an hour and ten minutes and she seemed very interested to let us have three Fridays a month starting when the City gets a positive conclusion of the Covid-19. The Centre will promote and advertise the dancing as their own event, all fees paid to the Centre and Norma and I will look after the evening's proceedings. This is the best opportunity for doing some OTD we have ever received. When we have a date to start I will also be sending details to all the Senior's Clubs and the Scottich Country Clubs ( which have had OTD lessons off Ruth Jappy) in Calgary to see what interest we can attract. We have got our fingers crossed that this time things will go OK.
When will we dance again?
by President Fred
I have to admit that I am coming to the conclusion that we will not be doing and Social Dancing until the New Year at the earliest (although I still have my fingers crossed that we might be allowed to have the Turkey & Tinsel holiday in Llandudno at the end November under very strict guidelines!).
The latest from a couple of Dance Society’s is that disinfecting before dancing and again after dancing is a major undertaking and that even if couples who are living together and only dance together the whole time that they will still be dancing through another couples ‘airspace’ as they proceed around the dance floor even with 2 metre spacing between couples. Plus, there are ‘risk assessments’ and ‘waiver letters’ to contend with.
All in all the outlook is very bleak at the moment – President Fred.
Britain’s most Popular Old Time Sequence Dance?
by David Griffiths
If you were asked to Nominate Britain’s most Popular Old-Time Sequence Dance – which one would you choose?
Well, such a survey was held back in 1965 and a very thorough investigation was carried out by the Dance Teachers Association, covering all areas of England & Wales, to determine exactly which dance appeared most frequently on Dance Club Programmes and Social Dance Programmes up and Down the Country.
The winner was “The Lilac Waltz”, a First Prize Winner for Alfred Halford of Preston in the Official Boards New Sequence Dance Competition of 1951.
Alf Halford was a Qualified Ballroom Dance Examiner, who took a great interest in the burgeoning Old-time Dance revival.
The Lilac Waltz became an immediate success and was a much-used Competition Dance, particularly for Junior Dancers and was subsequently accorded Championship Status by the Official Board of Ballroom Dancing, and became one of the most popular dances of All Time.
One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is a very simple sequence to learn (although it remains one of the most challenging to dance well).
The dance responds admirably to the gentle lilt of the waltz music and encourages the dancer to express the lilt whilst dancing.
The Waltz music with its stressed first beat – Counted “ONE -two-three” for each bar - practically tells the dancer how to dance the various figures “DOWN-up-up” and remains the ideal dance for teaching the Rise and Fall of the Waltz.
Alf Halford had a number of other successes to his credit such as Tango Scintilla (1955), Lotus Waltz (1957), Pauletta Two Step (1952) and Grosvenor Waltz (1960).
He was a Carl Allen Award Winner in 1955.
So – If a similar survey were possible today - Would the Lilac Waltz hold its top spot or maybe something else such as Tango Serida, Saunter Together, Balmoral Blues, Mayfair Quickstep? or perhaps None of These!
Passing the time – 2020 version
by President Fred
I very much hope that you have all been able to keep safe and well during these unprecedented times of ‘lockdown’! With no dancing I have been doing a 2 mile walk most days, I am lucky in that within three quarters of a mile of the flat there is the Wey Canal together with a large mill pond, now owned by the National Trust, plus a Public Footpath through the farm so this makes for an interesting walk plus a rest by the pond to watch the swans, geese and ducks, etc. I also have a garden bed to look after. I have also dug out my old Bryan Smith cd’s and play these whilst going through the dances; they also help one get through the housework and ironing!!
I am also lucky in that I have had our ‘News’ to edit and get items for as well as keep all our future dance holidays sourced, advertised and sold.
I miss my dancing and just hope that we will be released from our ‘lockdown’ so that we can get back to our beloved Old-time dancing very soon.
It will be interesting to hear from you, our members, as to what you have been up to in your efforts to keep fit, sane and busy. Please let me know - Fred
Members Ideas, Suggestions & Notes
The idea of all this section seems to have met the approval of many of our members so it has been decided to keep this feature going – please send items for inclusion to Fred or Wendy -
I asked in our last issue on behalf of Peter & Dorothy of Plymouth, if anyone could help with any information or script of the Sheila’s (maybe Shelagh’s) Waltz please?’ But I am sorry to say that all my enquiries have drawn a blank and I have not received an answer from anyone else. One of those mystery dances! Fred
My plea for any information on the ‘Foxtrotters’ Lodge has, I’m afraid, also drawn a blank but I will keep searching as I am sure that there is a very interesting story there! Fred.
I was asked over Easter for a date for the Friendly Waltz and that gave me something different to get involved in during this forced ‘lock-down!’ – the version that is regularly danced (and I have danced many times in Old-time, Popular Sequence and Folk Dancing) I can only find in Robbie Shepherd’s book ‘Let’s have a Ceilidh’ of 1992 but unfortunately there is no arranger or date included.
I have a script for The Friendly Waltz (progressive) by B & T Edney of 1954, but I have never danced this version.
The water is then ‘muddied’ somewhat when I started investigating this further by the mention of ‘The Circle Friendly Waltz’ but I can find no official mention of this version at all. I can recall having a conversation with an old dance teacher from Essex in the early 1990’s, Charles Nolan, on this dance but I can’t remember the outcome.
Nancy Clarke, in her book of Party Dances 1970, has a 16-bar progressive dance called Circle Waltz and I have a script by Alex Moore for a similar dance but 32-bar version but I have no further information on either of these.
Looking further through my extensive collection of scripts I came across, just by chance, an A4 copy of a foolscap page so unfortunately the heading is missing but the first paragraph reads “At the Midland Hotel on Sunday 9th November 1958 the following party dances were demonstrated and taught” – and much to my surprize the first one was The Friendly Waltz taught by Mr. & Mrs. J. Mills (Oldham) another version different to the others that I have already mentioned and then The Circle Waltz taught by Mr. C.R. Shields (Oldham) – yet another version. I can only imagine that they were in the minutes of a meeting of the Manchester MC’s.
If any of you can throw further light onto any of these dances, I will be delighted to hear from you. Fred.
Being A Senior
by David Griffiths
‘Many of us in Old Time will readily admit to being Senior Citizens (we have no choice) but there are others who are either resisting or simply unsure if they qualify. I recently came across this simple test to see if You Qualify ‘–
It’s Called Being a Senior Citizen-
Senior Citizens are constantly being criticized and blamed for every conceivable deficiency or problem in the modern world, real or imaginary. We do take full responsibility for all we have done and we do not blame others.
However- Upon reflection, we would like to point out that it was Not us Senior Citizens who took: -
The Melody out of Music
The Pride out of Appearance
The Courtesy out of Driving
The Romance out of Love
The Commitment out of Marriage
The Responsibility out of Parenthood
The Togetherness out of Family
The Learning out of Education
The Service out of Patriotism
The Civility out of Behaviour
The Refinement out of Language
The Dedication out of Employment
The Prudence out of Spending
The Ambition out of Achievement
The Patriotism out of Government & Schools
And we are Certainly NOT the ones who Eliminated Patience and Tolerance from Personal Relationships – But We do Understand the meaning of Patriotism and we do Remember those who fought and died for their Country. WITH GREAT PRIDE!
Yes, I Am a Senior Citizen!__