A Punter’s Perspective 02 — Everybody (bush) dance now

Image from Monaro Folk Society -- Yarralumla Woolshed
Image from Monaro Folk Society — Yarralumla Woolshed

A Punter’s Perspective
Random inexpert observations on the world of folk from the side of the stage

#2 Everybody (bush) dance now
First published in Trad and Now magazine, February 2007

By Bill Quinn

Scratch the surface of the folk scene and you soon find there’s plenty to keep the average punter occupied for several nights of most weeks, especially if you’re into dancing. Turn to the Dance Calendar in this very publication and you’ll see what varied options lie in wait in your neck of the woods.

The Canberra dance scene was ripe for a tentative foray into the relative unknown, approached with some caution, since I own the equivalent of two left feet. More correctly, they’re something akin to two swinging voters: apt to go either way, and often at the same time.

Canberra is blessed with many diverse dance options within a small geographical area: Irish set dancing, the colourful and energetic Bordonian Heritage Dancers, and the Contra Club just for starters. More on those in later editions.

But for a trip back in time to those school and parish ‘bring a plate for supper’ dances of yesteryear, first stop was the Monaro Folk Society (MFS) New Year’s Eve bush dance at the Yarralumla Woolshed.

If you’re going to have a bush dance, you can’t beat a hundred year old former shearing shed for atmosphere. You get the feeling the sheep were only cleared out hours earlier to make way for the stage, sound desk and supper tables.

The shed’s supports occasionally proved to be challenging obstacles, as the ever-increasing circle of dancers chose their promenading paths with care. “Dodge the poles!”, came the cry from the stage. We kept an eye out for the Hungarians as well.

(That joke celebrates its 15th birthday later this year. I’m buying it an iPod.) Continue reading