Review: An afternoon of Early Wellington Dances

A unique experience of our Scottish Country Dancing history

A lively crowd of close to 60 dancers from clubs across the Wellington Region along with Auckland tutor Katharine Hoskyn and a visitor from the UK, gathered at St John’s Anglican Church Hall in Johnsonville on Saturday 29 April for an afternoon of trying out dances from our past.

As part of the RSCDS Centenary Events, this special occasion celebrated the role of the extended RSCDS Wellington Region as the well-spring of Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand.

Over the afternoon, four long-time tutors from the Region—Iain Boyd, Romaine Butterfield, Edith Campbell and Elaine Laidlaw[1]—taught dances from the early days of Scottish Country Dancing in the lower North Island.

Our tutors: Elaine Laidlaw, Edith Campbell, Romaine Butterfield and Iain Boyd

The tutors selected dances from The Morison’s Bush Collection (published in 1978 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Wellington/Hawke’s Bay Association of Scottish Country Dance Clubs), The Harbour City Collection (published by the Wellington Region in 1986), Silver Threads (published for the RSCDS New Zealand Branch 25th Anniversary in 1993) and The Linden Collection (dances devised by Wellington Region tutor Ian Simmonds).

To set the scene, tartan bunting and historical photos decorated the walls of the hall along with posters containing brief summaries of the tutors’ contributions to Scottish Country Dancing and photos of them MC’ing noteworthy events in the Region.

Tartan bunting and historical posters and photos set the scene
The hall at Morison’s Bush, thought to have been the Church of England Institute at Featherston Military Camp in 1916-1921. Moved to Morison’s Bush circa 1922. It burnt down on 14 Oct 1989. Photo: TH Daniell. Masterton District Council Archives

To add to this unique experience, The Cranberry Tarts—Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral—provided music for the afternoon from the original tunes and arrangements used by Peter Elmes[2].

The Cranberry Tarts – Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral

A sizeable number of tutors from clubs in the Region from Carterton in the Wairarapa to Waikanae on the Kāpiti Coast attended the event.

Wellington Region Tutors at the event: Iain Boyd, Melva Waite, Rod Downey, Edith Campbell, Diane Bradshaw, Romaine Butterfield, Jeanette Watson, Elaine Lethbridge, Elaine Laidlaw, Barbara Gill, Elizabeth Ferguson, Michael Laidlaw

Welcoming everyone to the occasion, event organiser Rod Downey explained the event was a celebration of the extended region as the ‘cradle of Scottish Country Dancing’ in New Zealand.[3]

He emphasised the stars of the afternoon were the old dances, with the stellar group being the well-regarded tutors.

Programme organiser Iain Boyd introduced the teacher for each dance, mentioning many of the dances have special music with arrangements by Peter Elmes.

Download the programme

We took to the floor for Elaine Laidlaw’s first dance, Mirth’s Welcome (The Morison’s Bush Collection), devised by her husband Michael Laidlaw[4] for Mirth Smallwood[5], a long-time tutor of Kelburn Club. Mirth went away to Rarotonga for a time and Michael took over teaching Kelburn during that period. He devised the dance for her return in June 1969, and also composed the music.

Elaine Laidlaw teaching Mirth’s Welcome (with videographer John Patterson at the rear)
Dancers filled the hall for the first dance, Mirth’s Welcome

Watch this video of Mirth’s Welcome (first two times through, followed by the final time through)

After a brief break to regain our breath, Edith Campbell taught her dance To Ane An’ A’ (The Harbour City Collection). She explained we celebrate the arrival of a new year at Hogmanay by singing the traditional Scottish song A Guid New Year (which she sang to us). She thought a celebratory dance was also needed, so devised To Ane An’ A’ as a Round-the-Room dance to encourage dancers to wish a good new year to ‘one and all’. Tom Barnes[6], a Wellington accordionist in the 1980s, arranged the music.

Edith Campbell singing us the traditional Scottish song A Guid New Year
Enjoying the dance To Ane An’ A’

Watch this video of To Ane An’ A’

Iain Boyd took us through Under A Shady Tree (Silver Threads) devised by his wife, Wellington tutor Noeline O’Connor. This dance is connected to summer dancing in the past on the Puriri Lawn in Wellington Botanic Garden where a seat around a large puriri tree provided respite for the dancers from the sun. The music is traditional.

Puriri tree with seat at the Wellington Botanic Garden
Dancing Under A Shady Tree

Watch this video of Under a Shady Tree (final time through)

Ian Simmond’s[7] dance Percy Reserve (The Linden Collection) commemorates the many years summer dancing was held at Percy Scenic Reserve in Lower Hutt. Romaine Butterfield described how hordes of dancers met on the lawn near the duck pond on balmy summer nights. She said it was essential to “watch out for low-flying ducks” when dancing! Peter Elmes composed the tune Dancing on the Lawn.

Romaine Butterfield teaching Percy Reserve
1955: Summer Dancing in Percy Reserve, Wellington Evening Post Scottish Country Dancers at Percy Scenic Reserve, Korokoro, Lower Hutt. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1955/2562-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22736027
Enjoying the dance Percy Reserve

Watch this video of Percy Reserve (two times through)

After four energetic dances, people chatted about the programme being rather exhausting, both physically and mentally. Before tackling Govandale Reel, (a 48-bar jig!), Rod shared a brief pertinent comment from our distant past:

”It is perhaps significant that these dances, from completely different sources, all show a tendency which could be characteristic of dancing in our vigorous young country.”

1958 New Zealand Scottish Country Dancer, p6

The room erupted with laughter!

Govandale Reel (The Morison’s Bush Collection) was devised by Jim Lean, who played the records for many years at Lower Hutt Club. Edith gave us a brief history of Govan, a district on the River Clyde in Glasgow. Charlie Jemmett, a well-known accordionist from Christchurch, composed the music.

Dancing Govandale Reel

Watch this video of Govandale Reel (first time through)

Following a well-earned break for afternoon tea, Romaine taught her dance Joy Be Wi’ You (The Morison’s Bush Collection), a 5-couple dance with marvellous traditional music. She hoped the “joy would be with us” throughout the dance. Indeed, plenty of smiles and laughter from the dancers lit up the floor.

Smiles and laughter while balancing in line in Joy Be Wi’ You

Watch this video of Joy Be Wi’ You (first two times through)

Elaine returned to the floor to teach Feshiebridge devised by long-time tutor Gary Morris[8] in Edinburgh in 1962. The beautiful Feshiebridge crosses the River Feshie in the Cairngorms, conveniently located near a distillery! Gary also composed the music which was recorded by Peter Elmes, John Smith and Lynne Scott on the Scottish Country Dancing CD Thistle Hall.

Feshiebridge in the Cairngorms. Photo: Lovecairngorms
Leading down the middle in Feshiebridge

Watch this video of Feshiebridge (two times through)

Iain taught the last dance of the afternoon, Kelburn’s Reel (The Morison’s Bush Collection) devised by long-time tutor Betty Redfearn[9] for the 10th Anniversary of Kelburn Club in 1969. This cheerful and social Round-the-Room dance was a perfect ending to a superb afternoon of dancing, listening to Peter Elmes’ arrangements of tunes and socialising.

Iain Boyd teaching Kelburn’s Reel
Dancing Kelburn’s Reel with Iain Boyd at the right

Watch this video of Kelburn’s Reel

Considerable work is needed to make sure an event like this is a success. Thanks so much to Region President Rod Downey for organising the afternoon, Iain Boyd for organising the programme, Kristin Downey and the Johnsonville team for the hall decorations, Elaine Lethbridge for hall-setup and preparing the delicious afternoon tea, Kevin Lethbridge for hall-setup and on the door, Loralee Hyde for promotion, communications and photography, and John Patterson for videography.

Videographer John Patterson and photographer Loralee Hyde. Photo: Désirée Patterson

A special thank you to the four tutors, Iain Boyd, Romaine Butterfield, Edith Campbell and Elaine Laidlaw, for the time they took to select, research and teach their chosen dances. We very much appreciated their knowledge, expertise and insights into the Scottish Country Dancing history of our region.

Thank you also to the Cranberry Tarts, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral, for their marvellous playing, bringing back so many memories of Peter Elmes’ fine arrangements of tunes.

This special afternoon is one to remember.

Click here to see all of Loralee’s photos and download if you wish

Loralee Hyde
5 May 2023

Photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted
Videos by John Patterson and Pat Reesby

[1] See more about the tutors for this special occasion of Early Wellington Dances

[2] Tributes to Peter Elmes following his retirement from playing his accordion for 60 years in Wellington Region and throughout New Zealand, Harbour City Happenings, Volume 21 No. 3, December 2018

[3] The Foreword of The Morison’s Bush Collection says “For Country Dancers in the Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay area it [Morison’s Bush] was for many years the centre of social life and dances there were not to be missed.”

[4] Michael Laidlaw RSCDS New Zealand Branch Award his contributions to the Branch and Wellington Region in Harbour City Happenings, Volume 26, No. 1, March 2023

[5] A tribute to Mirth Smallwood Harbour City Happenings, Volume 7, No.5, November 2004

[6] Wellington Scottish Country Dance musicians John Foden and Tom Barnes Harbour City Happenings Volume 24 No. 4, December 2021

[7] Ian Simmonds retires after 52 years of teaching Linden Club, Harbour City Happenings, Volume 14, No. 2, July 2011

[8] Gary Morris Extract from Sociable Carefree Delightful A History of Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand 1995 p150-151

[9] Tributes to Betty Redfearn Harbour City Happenings, Volume 20 No. 1, June 2017

Lower North Island RSCDS Centenary Ball


To celebrate the centenary of the RSCDS, The RSCDS Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Rangitikei Regions have combined to host a Tri-Region Ball in Palmerston North.

5.30pm, Saturday 4 November 2023

College Street School Hall, Palmerston North Click here for a map to the venue
Music by Balmoral Band – Anne-Marie Forsyth (Auckland), Sharlene Penman (Christchurch), Iain McKenzie (Queensland)

Click here to register online

Early bird registration by Tuesday 1 August
Final registration deadline Sunday 15 October
RSCDS $35 (early bird $30)
Adult $40 (early bird $35)
Juniors/Spectators $20 (No early bird rate)

As well as celebrating the centenary of the RSCDS, the Ball is celebrating the role of the ‘fertile crescent’ from Hawke’s Bay to Whanganui through to Wellington.

In many ways, these three regions were the birthplace of Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand. For instance, the first three New Zealand Summer Schools were held in these three regions.

The Lower North Island RSCDS Centenary Ball will:

  • Feature an international band (The Balmoral Band)
  • Begin at 5.30pm so people have time to commute to the Ball and return to Wellington/Hawke’s Bay/Whanganui if they wish
  • Have a piped Grand March
  • Have a celebratory catered supper
  • Have a programme which features dances from Kiwi devisers, and well-known Society dances

Download the Lower North Island Centenary Ball Programme

Notes on the selected dances

Download some preliminary notes on the selected dances compiled by Rod Downey and Iain Boyd. They will be expanded upon as the year progresses, after consultation with people who are even more aware of the history of Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand.

Instructions for dances that are not well-known

Download the instructions for these dances on the programme:

A Gift From Heaven (Norman Whitson)

Gary Morris (Alec Hay)

Mildred Clancey’s Strathspey (Jennie Miller)

Morison’s Bush (Ken Shaw)

Foreword to The Morison’s Bush Collection

Download a copy of the Foreword to The Morison’s Bush Collection. This gives a ‘potted history’ of the Wellington/Hawke’s Bay Association and of organised Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand from 1953-1978.

Original Committee Members of the Wellington/Hawke’s Bay Association. Photo: The Morison’s Bush Collection

Bruce Fordyce (Back row, fourth from the left) devised the dance Seton’s Ceilidh Band which is on the Ball programme to commemorate Jack Seton (Front row, centre), who was the original President of the Wellington/Hawke’s Bay Association.

Early Wellington Dances

A Special Occasion


1.00pm-4.00pm, Saturday 29 April 2023
St John’s Anglican Church Hall,
18 Bassett Rd, Johnsonville Click here for a map to the venue
Afternoon tea provided. Bring own water bottle.
Doors open 12.30pm. Cost: $10 cash at the door.

As part of the RSCDS Centenary events, the Wellington Region has organised a very special occasion for intermediate dancers and above celebrating the role of the extended region as the well-spring of Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand.

Iain Boyd, Romaine Butterfield, Edith Campbell and Elaine Laidlaw have chosen dances from the early days of Scottish Country Dancing in the lower North Island, based around Morison’s Bush Collection and The Harbour City Collection.

These well-regarded tutors from our region will teach the dances as part of the Society’s Centenary Celebrations.

To add to this unique experience, The Cranberry Tarts—Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral—will provide music from the original tunes and arrangements used by Peter Elmes for both books.

See more about our tutors
See more about our musicians

Download the Early Wellington Dances Poster

Early Wellington Dances: Our Tutors for this Special Occasion

Iain Boyd

Iain has taught at classes and weekend schools in the Region and throughout New Zealand, including at New Zealand Branch Summer Schools, and across the world. Iain has many books of dances as well as dances in various collections which are widely danced internationally.

Iain has two dances published by the RSCDS: The Loch Ness Monster (2nd Graded Book) and The Trysting Place (Book 35/6). His dance Wild Mountain Thyme is in The Morison’s Bush Collection and On the Quarter-Deck is in The Harbour City Collection.

See Iain’s article on his early days and dance devising in The Reel Issue No. 313 p9 2020

Iain was presented with an RSCDS New Zealand Branch Award on 25 July 2015. See this extract from RSCDS Scottish Country Dancer October 2015 No. 21 p23

Iain Boyd as MC at the 2007-2008 Summer School Hogmanay in Wellington. With Sharlene Penman, Lynne Scott, Iain Matcham, John Smith, Peter Elmes and Carlton Downey in the band. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Romaine Butterfield

Romaine has four dances published by the RSCDS (the most of any New Zealand deviser); Catch the Wind (Book 45/5), The Bonnie Tree (Book 46/6), The Kissing Bridge (Book 47/9) and Come What May (Book 51).

Romaine has taught at classes and weekend schools in the Region and throughout New Zealand including at New Zealand Branch Summer Schools. She was a tutor for many years at the Island Bay Club (now Capital City) and is the current tutor of Waikanae Club.

Her dance Joy Be Wi’ You is in The Morison’s Bush Collection, and Cabbages And Kings and Let’s Meet Again are in The Harbour City Collection.

Romaine was presented with an RSCDS New Zealand Branch Award on 21 November 2014. See more in this extract from the New Zealand Scottish Country Dancer 2015 No. 62 p5

Romaine Butterfield as MC at the 2020 Wellington Region New Dancers’ Celebration organised by Waikanae Club. With Jason Morris, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral in the band. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Edith Campbell

Edith has taught at classes and weekend schools in the Region and throughout New Zealand including at New Zealand Branch Summer Schools. After moving from the UK to New Zealand with her Wellingtonian husband Bruce, Edith taught at Wellington Club (disestablished in 2006) for 10 years from 1963. In 1978, she and Bruce started Seatoun Club. She has now tutored the club for 45 years.

Edith has been on the Wellington Region Committee for many years and has helped to organise many Region events including the Wellington Region Diamond Jubilee Ball in 2012 at Government House and the Wellington Region 60th Anniversary Ball in 2021.

For the 1973 Golden Anniversary Ball in Lower Hutt, held to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the RSCDS, Edith together with two other well-known Wellington Region tutors—Gary Morris and Betty Redfearn—devised Won’t You Join the Dance (published 1973 NZ Scottish Country Dancer) to tell the Society’s story. See this article from Edith about Wellington dancing celebrations in the early 1970s. Edith’s dance To Ane An’ A’ is in The Harbour City Collection.

Edith Campbell as MC at the 2020 Wellington Region Hogmanay in Lower Hutt. With Glenice Saunders, Mary McDonald, Moira Croad, Jason Morris, Duncan McDonald and Lynne Scott in the band. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Elaine Laidlaw

Elaine has been on the Wellington Region Committee for many years including as President from 2011- 2013. She and her husband Michael have been involved in organising a number of Wellington Region events including the Wellington Region Diamond Jubilee Ball in 2012 at Government House as well as Hogmanays and New Dancers’ Celebrations.

In 2000, Elaine and Michael started Carterton Club in the Wairarapa. She continues to teach at the club. Elaine was awarded Life Membership of the New Zealand Branch in 2022 for her extensive service to the Branch in a range of roles including President. See more in this extract from the New Zealand Scottish Country Dancer 2022 No. 69 p4

Her published dances include The Tui’s Call in the collection From North Cape To the Bluff which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Branch, and The ‘Halfway House’, Petone (a tribute to the Community House in Britannia Street, Petone where the Region Committee meets) in The Wellington 60th Anniversary Collection.

Elaine as MC at the 2021 Wellington Region 60th Anniversary Ball in Lower Hutt. With Ann Goodbehere, Mary McDonald, Sharlene Penman and Lynne Scott in the band. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Early Wellington Dances: Our Musicians

The Cranberry Tarts: Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral

Aileen’s musical life started in Scotland when she was five years old. As well as learning to play the piano, guitar and accordion, she learned Scottish Country Dancing. Aileen played in various bands before moving to Wellington in 2009. Within days of arriving, long-time Wellingtonian musician Peter Elmes contacted her and encouraged her to join in his gigs. From being Peter’s ‘apprentice’, Aileen now plays in a range of band line-ups, including the duo The Cranberry Tarts with Hilary Ferral.

See more from Aileen about her musical life from Scotland to Wellington

As a child, Hilary initially learned piano, and then added violin lessons. The violin took over and she acquired a degree in violin performance. Hilary started Scottish Country Dancing at Tawa Club. Eventually, she was asked if she was interested in playing music for dancing. Subsequently, Hilary joined Peter Elmes’ band. After Peter’s retirement in 2018, she carried on playing with Aileen on a regular basis; in 2019, they named their duo The Cranberry Tarts.

See more from Hilary about her journey from classical violin to Scottish fiddling

At our special occasion of Early Wellington Dances, The Cranberry Tarts will provide music from the original tunes and arrangements used by Peter Elmes for dances from The Morison’s Bush Collection and The Harbour City Collection.

The Cranberry Tarts: Hilary Ferral and Aileen Logie playing at Maureen Robson’s Tribute dance in 2019 Photo: Loralee Hyde

Edith Campbell: Creativity at Celebrations

“Dance with your soul!” Miss Jean Milligan exhorted her students. It is the expression of soul—that quality of ‘soul’, which transforms a series of physical exercises into dance.

The desire to capture and keep alive this expression of Scotland’s soul and spirit prompted Miss Jean Milligan and her co-founder Mrs. Ysobel Stewart—supported by music publisher Michael Diack—to form the Scottish Country Dance Society in 1923.

To celebrate the ‘golden anniversary’ in 1973, dancers in the Wellington Region attended a ball in the rather cavernous Lower Hutt Horticultural Hall.

We were taken aback when the seemingly very large metre-square decorations with paper-sculptures depicting the titles of four popular dances were dwarfed by the space, however Peter Elmes and his Band soon filled it with music and the floor quickly filled with enthusiastic dancers from the Region and beyond.

Being a special occasion, Betty Redfearn, Gary Morris and I had put our heads together to devise the appropriately entitled Won’t You Join the Dance to tell the Society’s story. Rather than just ‘demonstrating it’, I concocted a floor show so that the dancers came on to the floor from the corners of the floor using their dance steps and figures to create an interesting spectacle.

I think they all enjoyed presenting the movements in ways rather different from the usual confines of their sets—exciting! Miss Milligan visited New Zealand the next year and she was delighted when we danced WYJTD for her.

Following the event’s success, it was decided to make it a biennial event. The next one celebrated fifty years since the Society first published a book of dances—one being The Triumph—so the hall was decorated with triumphal arches.

The wall at the back of the hall’s stage was enormous so I made a triangular linen ‘curtain’ to suspend from a hook at the top; for the year to mark the beginning of Summer Schools we attached red crepe paper strips to it to look like a ‘big top’ to tie in with the Lammas Fair in the town of St. Andrews which always coincides with the Schools. There was also a market ‘stall’ on the stage with a striped awning.

Another year, crepe paper again was used to create the Beehive; on the walls were honeycomb hexagons each emblazoned with the Branch’s Regions and a representative emblem—the beehive of course represented Wellington.

One of our dancers was an excellent artist so another year he painted a number of the castles in dance names; the round tables had a covering of green card depicting Robert Adams’ white plaster roundels (cf. Wedgewood vases) as found in the many stately homes he designed.

Speaking of these round tables; one year it was decided to have them at their lower level; during the evening there was frequently the sound of crashing glasses—the tables were at the right height for kilts to sweep them to the floor!

Since my school days Scottish Country dancing has brought me great pleasure, not only through the rewards from many friendships and sharing its joys with others as a teacher and a fellow-dancer and a Scottish entertainer, but also from the many and varied opportunities if has brought my way to explore other avenues for creativity … dreaming up scenarios and making decorations!

Edith Lauder Campbell
September 2021

Dance with Your Soul – biography of Dr. Jean Milligan by Florence Adams and Alastair McFadyen

Won’t You Join the Dance – manual of dance instructions by Miss Jean Milligan

Download the dance instructions for Won’t You Join the Dance, 1973 NZSC Dancer

Read a review of the 1973 Golden Anniversary Ball in an extract from the 1974 NZSC Dancer

Photo: Loralee Hyde

Robert Vale: 2021 Summer Dancing

From the Dominion to Dundee

When dancing shuts down over the summer, Wellington dancers still enjoy their sport thanks to the annual Dancing on the Grass organised by the Wellington Region of the RSCDS. This takes place on four summer Tuesday evenings on the grass in front of the Old Government Buildings in Lambton Quay.

Before getting on to the dancing, what about the venue?

The building was designed by William Clayton to accommodate all of New Zealand’s public servants. Originally intended to be made of concrete so as to be fireproof, that proved too expensive and so it was constructed all in Kauri instead, made to look as if it was stone, presumably to make the government look solid and dependable. It was, as building projects often are, over budget when completed in 1876.

Surprisingly, for nearly fifty years the building was heated with open fireplaces, but because of its wooden construction, smoking inside was banned right from when it opened, unlike in Wellington’s wooden-bodied trams which even provided smokers with metal plates fixed to the woodwork on which to strike their matches!

Having served the Colony of New Zealand from 1876, the Dominion of New Zealand from 1907 and housing government Ministers until 1921, the Old Government Buildings are now the home of the Faculty of Law of Victoria University.

But what about the dancing?

Dancing is outside (on the grass) in front of the main entrance, so we provide a bit of a spectacle. In previous years tourists on Lambton Quay liked to stand and watch but there weren’t many tourists this year. One night this year one of the bus drivers gave us a toot on the horn and a wave as he drove down towards the city.

Dancing on grass is quite a novel sensation. It’s certainly different than dancing on a flat floor, it’s a bit bumpy and in summer if there’s not been much rain it can be quite firm and scratchy. There’s also a large floodlight sticking out of the grass which you need to look out for when casting behind your line.

 Some people wear their dancing shoes and some like bare feet. There are little acorn-like things hiding in the grass which can give you a nasty surprise in bare feet, like stepping on a piece of the kids’ Lego in the dark.

Dancing on the grass on 2 February. Robert is dancing just to the left of centre (with the statue of Peter Fraser, New Zealand’s Prime Minister from 1940-1949, behind him). Photo from video by Pat Reesby

Each of the four summer dancing sessions is led by a different tutor from one of the Wellington clubs. The dances are usually the fairly familiar ones that appear on many club dance programmes throughout the year although there were a couple of exceptions this year that confused quite a few of us. The tutors generally choose dances that are not too complicated and they’re walked, so it’s all a lot easier than trying to dance from just a briefing.

And what about the Lino?

Well, being Wellington in the summer, it can be wet and it can be cold. This year, for both those reasons, we danced inside for two of the four sessions.

The inside space is the student café of the VUW Law Faculty (it offers a very cheap vegan lunch). The door to the café is round the other side of the building from the grass and the main entrance.

The café is a good sized space with one extra feature, which is the series of columns that hold up the floors above. These are cunningly placed so that you have to dance round them when casting, or dancing a figure-of-eight, which adds to the excitement.

And the flooring in the café is lino, or to give it its proper name, Linoleum, which is made from jute and linseed oil. There’s a fine Scottish connection, as the city of Dundee was famous for “jute, jam and journalism”. Known in the 19th century as Juteopolis it was the centre of the global jute trade. Dundee was also famous for producing Keiller’s marmalade and for still being the home of D C Thomson, the publishers of well-loved comics like The Beano and Scottish cartoon strips The Broons and Oor Wullie.

Dancing on the grass is a great way to enjoy some dancing when clubs are closed for the summer. You get to meet people from other clubs, you might then see them later in the year at a dance. One of the four nights this year was a beautiful warm, still night and it was magical dancing outside as the dusk fell.

Being able to dance in front of Parliament (or at least the Beehive) seems so unlike what might be permitted in the UK, the USA or even in Canberra, where the people seem less able to get close to the seat of power.

There’s also something special about being able to dance right outside the heart of government, just across from the Beehive. This year it felt extra special to be able to dance at all, given the situation in many less fortunate countries.

Robert Vale
March 2021

Loralee Hyde: 2014 Wellington Region 1920s Ball

Going back in time to the Roaring Twenties, groups of elegant dancers entered a beautifully decorated ballroom ready for an evening of dance and friendship: flappers in dresses decorated with beadwork, sequins or embroidery, feathers in their hair and long swirling strings of pearls; men in striped jackets, white trousers and boater hats or resplendent in black Prince Charlie jackets and kilts.

Wellington Region President at the time, Philippa Pointon, said the committee decided to have a 1920s ball to celebrate the decade in which the RSCDS was formed

Thanks so much to the committee of Melva Waite, Kath Ledingham, Eileen South and Philippa, who was also MC for the evening, for organising this grand affair on 5 July 2014.

The ‘1920s’ committee: Melva Waite, Kath Ledingham, Eileen South and Philippa Pointon

As dancers arrived, they were offered punch by three smartly dressed bartenders; Kevin Lethbridge, Pat Waite and Peter Warren.

Ready to serve the punch: Kevin Lethbridge, Pat Waite and Peter Warren

Everyone had the opportunity to pose in their finery in a gold photo booth, made especially for the purpose by John Gregory. Thanks to John for pulling together all the fantastic decorations for the evening, with the photo booth continuing to feature at formal occasions including the grand Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016

Elegant Tawa dancers take their turn in the gold photo booth

Lively music from Aileen Logie, John Smith, Peter Elmes and Terry Bradshaw (with some sets containing 1920s tunes cleverly arranged by Peter), got toes tapping and dancers on to the floor throughout the evening.

MC Philippa Pointon with Aileen Logie, John Smith, Peter Elmes and Terry Bradshaw

Old favourites on the programme included The Sailor, Cadgers in Canongate and Sugar Candie. Dances published by the RSCDS in the 1920s were represented by Flowers of Edinburgh (Book 1, 1924) and Blue Bonnets (Book 3, 1926).

Enjoying the dance!

“A great night was had by all”, says Philippa. “I don’t think the Charleston had ever been played on an accordion before!”

Check out Loralee Hyde’s photos for more memories of a fabulous evening of fun and friendship with elegant costumes abounding and memorable dancing and music

Watch Pat Reesby’s video of Village Reel below

Loralee Hyde
January 2021

Cheering in the New Year: 2020 Hogmanay

On a balmy Wellington evening, more than 12 sets of dancers saw off the end of a challenging 2020 by cheering in the New Year at the Wellington Region Hogmanay on 31 December in Lower Hutt.

Thanks to Ann and Andrew Oliver and their team for organising this superb evening which was full of smiles and laughter after a disrupted year of dancing. A constant refrain was one of thankfulness for being able to celebrate Hogmanay together when so many around the world could not due to severe Covid-19 restrictions.

Dancing Double Culla Bay

Along with dancers from throughout the Wellington Region, we welcomed RSCDS New Zealand Branch President Linda Glavin, Vice President Debbie Roxburgh with Paul, and Communication, Publicity and Membership Coordinator Sue Lindsay. Others from outside the Region included Sue and Ian Pearson from Whanganui, Doug Mills and Lynda Aitchison from Marlborough and former Wellingtonian Xiaowen Yu, now living in Dunedin.

Thank you to the MCs who gave briefings and oversaw walkthroughs of dances during the evening—Ann, Jeanette Watson, Margaret Cantwell, Diane Bradshaw and Edith Campbell (who shared intriguing tidbits about the dance origins!).

We danced the night away to fine music from the Saltire Scottish Dance Band led by Mary McDonald on the fiddle, with Jason Morris (keyboard, clarinet), Duncan McDonald (drums), Glenice Saunders (fiddle) and Alastair McDonald (sound technician). Joining them were guest musicians Lynne Scott (accordion, octave-below fiddle, keyboard) and Moira Croad (flute, piccolo).       

MC Edith Campbell with the six-piece Saltire Scottish Dance Band

Popular dances included the old favourites De’il Amang the Tailors, Pelorus Jack and the toe-tapping reel Mairi’s Wedding. The more experienced dancers took up the challenge of dancing Culla Bay, Best Set in the Hall (repeated for those keen to dance it a second time) and A Capital Jig.

Before midnight, Damon Collin led a singalong of Scottish songs—this time with the words projected on to a screen rather than the printed copies we’ve used since the last century!

The ceremony for welcoming in the New Year began by sweeping out the old year, with Lee and Michele Miller taking on the roles of the Old Year and the Sweeper while we sang Auld Lang Syne.

Singing Auld Lang Syne as the Sweeper sweeps out the Old Year

As President of the Wellington Region, Ann announced the arrival of the First Foot—the first person to come across the threshold in the new year, carrying gifts of coal for warmth, salt or money for wealth, shortbread for sustenance and whisky for good cheer.

Led by piper Doug Sinclair, First Foot James Scott walked a circuit around the hall before presenting the gifts to Ann. The First Foot then raised a toast to the RSCDS Wellington Region and we welcomed in the new year of 2021.

Wellington Region President Ann Oliver raises a toast to the Region

After wishing each other Happy New Year, it was time for the dancers to tackle the final three dances—the Eightsome/Thirtytwosome Reel, City of Belfast and The Reel of the 51st Division.

Watch the compilation video below by Alastair McDonald

See more of Loralee Hyde’s photos

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos

New Year Jig
Dashing White Sergeant
The Glasgow Highlanders

Watch Aline Homes’ videos

The Wild Geese
Best Set in the Hall