June 27, 2011
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The following article discusses the 52nd National Square Dance convention from a South Australian perspective : Ed
The Opening Night
The 2011 National Square Dance Convention was held in Darwin, Northern Territory (NT) for the very first time. This 52nd National Square Dance Convention spanned 5 days from the 9th to 13th June. Even though Darwin is a rather remote Australian location and no square dance club exists in the NT, 440 dancers travelled the distance for the occasion. As one person put it, we may not have had the quantity at this convention but we sure did have the quality. In my opinion, an overwhelming majority of the dancers were exceptionally competent and the combined quality of our callers was well above that of any previous conventions I have attended.
The theme for this convention was “Dance A While With A Crocodile”. The prop on the stage which was also the sound control booth was supposedly a black crocodile, however some mused it looked like it had cross bred with a hippopotamus.
At the official opening ceremony, we all sang the two verses of Advance Australia Fair (luckily the words were printed out in the program because hardly anyone knows the second verse). An Aboriginal lady then spoke and sang Waltzing Matilda in her native tongue and officially declared the convention open and then a group of aboriginal dancers (prisoners from Darwin Goal) performed 5 indigenous dances with some didgeridoo accompaniment.
Aborigine Dancers At The Opening Ceremony
The weather at the top end was perfect. This time of year is the coldest that it gets in Darwin, nice and warm during the day (about 28 C) with cool evenings (about 15 C), further, the air-conditioning coped well with the needs of our dancers. This was quite a contrast from last year in Wodonga, many dancers severely criticized that event because they experienced freezing conditions and no heating in the dance venue. Except for this occasion, why do the powers of B insist on holding national conventions at the coldest time of the year? Australia has some brilliant weather if only our national convention dates took advantage of this, perhaps then we would witness an increased attendance.
TAWS (Travel Australia With Square Dancers) SA Dress Set
Combined Adelaide Outlaws, Kanella Squares Wild Frontier SA Dress Set
I believe, the person at the convention most dedicated to the promotion of square dancing was Milton McKenzie. Milton calls for the newly formed fledgling club the Paddle Steamers in Goolwa South Australia, and travels approximately 200 km every Friday to call at their venue. The club usually manages one square and some extras with two squares on a good night or if visitors attend to swell the ranks.
Milton arranged for 10 club members to travel to Darwin so they could experience a National convention for the very first time. Not only did he organize 50% of his club to attend, they also participated in the dress set parade. To achieve this alone is remarkable. In the category of amazing is the fact that Milton sewed all the clothes for the dress set, 4 shirts, 4 petticoat, 4 dresses. That is absolutely fantastic! Give that man a medal! I wonder how many other callers are as dedicated to promoting our activity as is Milton.
Miltons Paddlesteamers Dress Set
The Last Night
A great convention well done, the organizing committee deserve a big pat on the back. Good luck Tasmania for next year, lets hope the Tasmanian Devil in the picture below has as much success as the Darwin crocodile.
The Darwin Committee Escorted Out Of The Hall By A Tasmanian Devil
June 9, 2011
On Friday 27th May, those TAWS members who happened to be heading up to the Stuart Highway to the Darwin National Square Dance Convention and also happened to be in or around Alice Springs on this day, met at the Old Telegraph Station just north of the CBD for a “meet and greet” picnic.
Our Picnic Group (click on this and the next photo to enlarge / print)
We arrived at the TAWS picnic at about 1.00 PM to find a large group of square dancers sitting in the warm sunshine near one of the BBQ areas. The group comprised TAWS members from every state in Australia except WA. I counted 29 members but did not do a recount when some more members arrived later in the afternoon. We ended up with well in excess of 30 at the gathering which equates to 16 or more caravans heading up the Stuart Highway. Members said there were other TAWS caravans travelling via the Stuart highway that could not make it, others from Queensland travelling via the Landsborough Highway and others heading up the North West Coastal Highway in WA.
Because South Australians were virtually committed to travel via the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta to Darwin, we were well represented numbering 10 members from Wild Frontier /Kannella Squares (about 1/3rd of the contingent).
Our Group - Could Be a Giant Wanted Poster
We sat, ate, drank and chatted until about 3.00PM. Mal then thanked everyone for coming, he saide he was very pleased at the number of members who had made it and we all gathered for a group photo or two (minus yours truly). A very pleasant afternoon concluded as we dispersed to our various locations (we did meet a few TAWS members later in Alice Springs Coles, stocking up before heading North).