The Enfield Society


English country dance

Cyril Jones

Rowlandson caricature of country dance

Caricature of a "longways" country dance by Rowlandson, 2nd half of the 1790's.

One can read many ideas on how to keep young and healthy into our old age. May I suggest one way that started for me as the result of a Church Harvest Festival Barn Dance at our local Miller Memorial Methodist Church in Tottenham way back in 1947. Having served 6 years in HM Forces in the UK including as a Desert Rat, then back home via the Italian campaign, and demobbed in January 1946. With the opportunity of the Government Emergency Training Scheme I attended a course at Trent Park College to qualify as a Primary school teacher. After retraining in 1960, again at Trent Park, I qualified to teach Handicrafts and Technical Drawing at Secondary level until I retired in 1977 aged 60.

During my 30 years service, besides normal timetabled subjects, I was able to start after-school English Country Folk Dance Clubs and also taught the subject at the local Evening Institutes. I still have contact with many of those who attended the various Schools and Evening Classes from the late 1940’s onwards. I also made hundreds of dancing friends while a Tutor for 25 years at Holiday Fellowship Centres and later at Theobalds Park College until it sadly closed.

English Country Dancing first appeared in print back in the 17th Century. There are many, many dances recorded then which we still dance today, the music being written by the classical composers of that era. New dances are still being written and fresh music composed at the present day. The early Dances were taught by dancing masters to the nobility and rich society, while local musicians in the country villages played for their own particular versions of these Country Dances, which are still popular today.

Our English country dances were, and still are written for two, three, four or ‘as many as will’ for couples in lines, circles or squares to reels, jigs, waltzes and 3/2 rhythms. There are numerous clubs all over England and an even larger number of enthusiastic country dancers are members of the Country Dance and Song Society of America which has many more members than our own English Folk Dance and Song Society which has its headquarters in Camden Town, named after its founder, Cecil Sharp House. Unfortunately we English have one great disadvantage, we have no traditional national costume!

For members of The Enfield Society who would like to try the enjoyment of this kind of dancing, there are three local clubs. Winchmore Folk Dance Club meet weekly on Tuesday mornings from 10am – 12 noon at Grange Park Methodist Church, Park Drive, Grange Park, N21 2LS. They also hold a monthly dance with The Forest Band every second Saturday 7.30pm – 10.30pm at Trinity Church Hall, Church St. by the corner of Gentleman’s Row. Another well established club named St Andrew’s Country Dancers meet monthly every fourth Saturday 7.30pm – 10.30pm at the same venue, Trinity Church hall. The recently formed Palmers Green Country Dance club meet on weekdays at Ruth Winston House and especially welcomes newcomers. There is also another beginners group, started by the Enfield Over 50’s Forum which meets on the first Wednesday afternoon 2pm – 4pm every month at the Southbury Leisure Centre.

As is the custom all these clubs have a ‘caller’ who explains and ‘walks through’ the dance beforehand and calls the dance figures as a reminder as the dancing continues.

For further information about any of these clubs, please contact the writer of this contribution, Cyril Jones, by telephone at (020) 8967 3561 or Email to <cyrdorjones@blueyonder.co.uk>


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