Hot Chilli and Lively Dancing warms up a cold January Evening

It’s different when it’s your own.

I’ve been playing for barn dances etc. for most of my life. I’ve played for contra dances in New England, charity events in Italy and community dances in France, plus innumerable weddings, PTAs, church and public events in the UK. They’re generally enjoyable and occasionally dire. One accepts the adulation or indifference at the end of the evening, packs up and goes home with the feeling of a job well done.

But .. it’s different when it’s your own.

Last night we held our fifth annual parish barn dance in St George’s church, Badshot Lea. We had around eighty people from Badshot Lea through to the other end of the parish in Upper Hale, plus friends from the far-flung towns of Alton and Hartley Wintney (!). There is something special about seeing familiar faces obviously enjoying themselves, mingling and generally behaving like a community I felt proud to belong to.

High spots of the evening (for me) were the extra band musicians, generally playing material well outside their previous experience or comfort zones, and actually enjoying themselves. We also had an impromptu display by our two local tap-dancing girls (proudly sporting pink cowboy hats), who felt that the excellent display of Morris dancing by Jack Straws needed interrupting with a bit of local colour.

However, what really brings home the idea of community is the behind-the scenes effort that goes into these events.
The number of helpers turning up on Friday afternoon to prepare the church and on Saturday morning to put everything back in place, were more than we’ve had in previous years and gave a real feeling of commitment, as well as making the job a lot easier.

The organisation, preparation and serving of the food took several days of selfless effort, and meant that those dishing the food out saw little of the dance itself. There were heroic efforts that went into raffle ticket sales and collection on the door, which all added to the amount we were able to donate to church funds.

So, as I sit here and write this, I’m totally exhausted but somewhere there’s a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. Thank you to everyone who played a part. We made over £450 for parish funds, but in a way this is irrelevant. We had an event full of life and happiness that shone a light through the gloom of a cold January night.

Bob Shatwell
31st January 2015

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