WEDNESDAY NIGHT BUSH DANCE
Since 1989 The Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club has held a social bush dance every Wednesday night at the Wongawilli Community Hall, West Dapto Road, Wongawilli from 8pm to 10.30pm.
The bush dances began in the old Heinenger Hall Dapto in 1985.
The evening generally includes 10 bush dances which are all called and walked through. Novice dancers and musicians are invited to participate.
Sheet music is provided for musicians. Members of the Wongawilli Bush Band form part of the Wongawilli Hall Ceildih Band. David De Santi from the Wongawilli Bush Band leads the band except on the first Wednesdays of each month when Yvonne and Monty from No Such Thing lead the group.
A light supper with tea and coffee is provided also. The cost is generally only $3 per adult and children free.
Special theme nights are also held in which other country's folk dances are taught. They include Welsh for St David's Day, English dance on St George's Day, Scottish dancing on St Andrew's Day, Contra Dance on American Independence Day and even a selection of Italian Folk dances for Italian National Day.
Over the years some great dance musicians have visited and performed at the night includingThe Mammals (USA), April Verch Band (Canada), Sandy Brechin & Burach (Scotland), Alan Kelly Band (Ireland), Karen Tweed (UK) and Faerd (Den/Swe/Fin), Felpeyu (Asturias, Spain), Seamus Begley and Jim Murray (Ireland), Jeppokrydonna (all girl band from Finland), Emily Smith Band (Scot), Swingin' Fiddles (Shetland Islands) and Fanch and Jean-Pierre from Brittany.
Coming Dance Theme Nights on Wednesdays
The Club hold special dance theme nights on Wednesdays throughout the year. All the dances are called and walked through. It's all part of the social fun aspect to folk dance and music!
- Wednesday 29 February 2012 - Alistair Brown, guest caller from UK
- Wednesday 21 March - Beoga (Ireland) Ceili with Margaret and Bill Winnett
- Wednesday 28 March 2012 - Klezmer Keili with London Klezmer Quartet
- Wednesday 18 April - St George's Day English Folk Dance
- Wednesday 25 April - Post Anzac Day Heritage Bush Dance
- Wednesday 30 May - Italian National Day Folka Danza
- Wednesday 27 June - St Jean Baptiste Quebecois Folk Dance Folk Dance
- Wednesday 4 July - American Indepedence Day Contra Dance
- Wednesday 11 July - Bastile Day French
- Wednesday 1 August - Wongawilli 25th Birthday Dance
- Wednesday 28 November - St Andrews Day Scottisch Ceilidh
Opportunity for Wednesday Night Charity Bush Dance
If you know of a worthy charity then let us know. We will organise one of our Wednesday night dances to be given to the Charity. The charity's role is to get people there and we will donate all the entry money for that night to the cause, including providing the supper. Raffles are also welcome
Some of the past recipients of funds have included Victorian Bush Fire Appeal, Daffodil Day, Ceoliac Association.
History of Wednesday Night Bush Dances
Bush dance is a form of traditional folk dancing that has been brought to Australia by its European settlers. The dances are a majority mix of circle, couple, longways and quadrilles formations.
The music that accompanies the dances again has European origins although there are quite a number of Australianised tunes now in the tradition from bush fiddlers and other musicians.
During the 1950s there had been a revival of folk music in Australia following a similar revival in America. Collectors travelled the countryside looking for old tunes, songs and dance before they died out with their bearers.
Bush dances were revived based on these collected dances, introduced dances from Europe and newly composed dances.
In 1984 a group of musicians interested in traditional music began to gather at Seamus Mackey's home on Monday nights in Avondale Road, Dapto in an informal session surrounding. Musicians would bring their tunes to share and learn.
It was suggested that the music should really be used for its original intention - dancing. And so it was that the search for a hall began to begin a regular bush dance. The hall initially selected was the Heinenger Hall in Dapto in 1985.
The format was simple - the musicians would play music to suit dances, and people would learn the steps. A number of WEA courses attracted a regular audience. Any musician with an acoustic instrument was welcome from accordions to fiddles to piano to even a tuba! Of course there were the quintessential Australian instruments - the lagerphone and bush bass (tea chest bass).
From the musicians came initially the Warrabush Band and later the Wongawilli Bush Band.
In 1987 it was decided to formalise the dance into a non-profit incorporated association. The name of the association agreed upon was the Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club that tied in with the newly formed Wongawilli Bush Band and Wongawilli Colonial Dancers. At around the same time Wollongong City Council was allocating Community Halls around the Illawarra region. The Wongawilli Community Hall became available for the Club and the bush dances.
So in 1989 the Wednesday night bush dance moved to the Wongawilli Hall.Over the years dances have continued with charity nights; many visitors from overseas and nationally; theme dance nights such as Italian, French, American, English, Scottish and Welsh; and guest musicians from Spain, Brittany, Finland, Scotland, Denmark and Sweden.The name Wongawilli has become recognised as an icon in Australian traditional music and dance with the bush dance a major backbone.
In the end, the dance is still fun, lively and a great way to see Australians at play.