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
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!__