Saturday 30 December 2017

The "Saturday night dance"

seems to have gone the way of many other things.
I was talking to one of the supermarket staff  yesterday. It was her day off and she had come into the shopping centre to go to the chemist and do her own shopping. She is someone who needs a bit of extra support so, when she indicated  she wanted to chat for a moment, I stopped to listen. I'm glad I did. It was interesting.
She told me how her father's band would not be playing for the traditional Saturday night dances in his country town any more. 
I  thought it might be because the band was no longer considered to be the "in" thing by the young people in the town. Yes, that's part of it I suppose - guitar, drums, and keyboard at the venue isn't quite the same as "music" played full volume from elsewhere.
But it turned out that the other major reason is that people have simply stopped going. Those few who do are the "older people".  I was more surprised than I should have been.
The Saturday night dance, especially the Saturday night "footy" dance was sacred when I was a kitten. In every rural place we lived in it was a Saturday night ritual. In every place my parents taught, separately and together, the Saturday night entertainment was the "dance".
It would be held in the local "hall" - often not much more than a galvanised iron shed. Someone would play an invariably out of tune piano, someone else a violin, and there would be someone playing a "set of drums". Someone would be "MC" for the evening. The wooden floor would have been sprinkled with sawdust and, at Christmas/New Year, there might be some crepe paper chains and a balloon or two to "decorate" the hall. 
There were chairs placed around the edges for the "ladies" to sit on and the men would congregate at the back of the hall - near the entrance. It meant that they could "nip out for a ciggie".  There would be beer (for the men) and lemonade (for the women and children) and then, later, "supper" with scones and "cheesies", sultana cake and "jelly" cakes.  Unless it was a special occasion the night was over by 11pm. Farmers didn't keep late hours then. I doubt they do now. Some of them had to travel a long distance home too.
The dance was where the local girls met the local boys - and indulged in an illicit kiss and cuddle "out the back" or in the car belonging to a parent. Wedding receptions were much like the footy dance only with a bride and groom and everyone in Sunday clothing rather than Saturday night clothing.
We did not often attend such things. The Senior Cat has "two left feet" and dreaded the annual school "ball". My mother, a much better dancer, would have enjoyed such occasions much more if he had not been treading on her feet.  She taught my brother to waltz and do the "military two step" and the "gay Gordons" when he was barely old enough to understand left from right.  My sisters can waltz and Middle Cat sent her boys to lessons because she says it is a social skill that all kittens should acquire.
Perhaps it is. The Senior Cat, although quite unable to do it himself, remembers his father dancing with my grandmother at ceilidhs. I remember seeing my grandfather, in a kilt, somehow never touching those swords with his feet even though he never seemed to look at them. I can remember seeing him lead my grandmother through an arch of arms. It was all done to the lively sound of well played music.
The Saturday night dance might almost be a thing of the past. It is certainly not as a regular as it used to be.   But, there are still ceilidhs. It seems we cats of Scots descent still know how to dance.


helen devries said...

I remember being taken to the 'soirees' when on holiday on the West coast of Scotland as a child...
A Jimmy Shand type band...all kilted...and everyone up to dance except for those men who were anchored at th bar for the night.

Momkatz said...

What lovely memories to share, Cat. I am envious of your ability to recall long ago events. I wish my memory was as good as yours and Senior Cat's.
Big Sister Cat