Country Square Dance at The Freeling Institute Hall

September 5, 2013

Institute HallC

Last Saturday night, the 31st August to be precise, 85 square dancers hoe-downed in the Institute Hall, Clarke Street Freeling, the hall is over 107 years old.  The majority of dancers drove up from Adelaide, some visited the Gawler show en route and there was also a bus organised for those who did not wish to drive. The theme was a country dance in Mc Leod Daughters territory, so many dancers came wearing dry as a bone’s, jeans, boots and akubra’s. 

The dance was also very good for business at the Gungellan Pub (the local watering hole in the TV series) when around 70 dancers sat down for a meal prior to the dance.  Feed back regarding the $12.00 menu arranged specifically for the dancers was generally very good.  The dance was funded and promoted by the SA Square Dance Society, and dancers from SA Clubs: Wild Frontier, Adelaide Outlaws, Sunset Twirlers, Scoot Back Squares, Kanella Squares, Leisurely Squares and the Goolwa Paddle Steamers filled the floor.  Callers Les, Graham, Jeff, Ian and John did a great job choosing a wide range of music for dancers to appreciate.  A small sub committee arranged the dance venue, transport, pub meal and supper, the callers the dance program

The Dance FloorC

It would appear that there was a mix up regarding promotion of the event, some dancers arrived for the round and plus dancing before 8:00 PM as first advertised, only to find there was no plus, just rounds (apparently subsequent promotional material deleted the plus).  Many dancers amongst the 80 or more sitting out were annoyed to witness 4 round dancers on the floor whilst they sat there twiddling there thumbs.  Furthermore, after the initial round dancing session, there were only two square dance tips before yet another round dance session.  At no time did they manage more than 5 round dance couples on the floor, I know the popularity of square dancing is declining, evident by our dwindling numbers, it looks like round dancing has greater problems in the popularity stakes.

When Graham Elliot eventually asked dancers to line up for the 1st square dance there was a stampede,  8 squares hit the floor.  Throughout the night, the dance floor was fairly full, however, when the one plus tip arrived, only 3 squares participated, but, it was evident there were at least another one or two squares of plus dancers who did not participate.  Could it be that the average age of plus dancers exceeds that of mainstream, hence they were to tired to get up?


A magnificent supper was also provided at the end of the dance which to the amazement of the organizers exceeded the appetites of a crowd renowned for their eating abilities, about 75% was consumed, We understand toasted sandwiches and fresh fruit was the breakfast fare for those tidying up the following Sunday morning, with sausage rolls quiches and more toasted sandwiches for the rest of the day.  A special thankyou to the function organizers, cleaners, furniture movers, cooks, bottle washers, and kitchen slaves Anne, Alan, Helen, Roger, Barry, Jackie and Anne’s daughters Lisa and Amy, who volunteered, even though they are not square dancers.


In the best interest of square dancing and because of feedback from many of the dancers present, Square Dance Magazine is of the opinion that for future dances of this nature, the Society needs to reflect on the following issues:

  1.       It is essential that promotional material is absolutely correct prior to publication, if it advises a programme, subsequent changes should not be made unless there are unforseen extreme circumstances which necessitate this, e.g. if round dancing only had been specified before 8:00PM (rather than rounds and plus) and the situation as observed at this dance had occurred  i.e. large numbers sitting out watching four people on the floor, then it would have been appropriate to make an on the spot change and throw in a few square dance tips.
  2.       The Society needs to cater specifically for Society members who are “Square Dancers”; this being a square dance society.  This is not to say that the round dancing should be cancelled, however, all that round dancing with only, a single Plus tip does not in our opinion cater for the needs of our square dancers.
  3.       We recommend that the Society look for additional country venues, and ideally if accommodation is nearby, consider running an event over a weekend.  It would seem, judging by the turnout, that dancers are looking for “new” experiences, rather than the “same old same old”.
  4.       We believe the Society should run events such as this in the same manner as a national square dance convention, i.e. no breaks between tips. (in that way, round and plus dancers can be more easily accommodated whilst mainstream dancers take a break and vice versa).

An apology must be made for the limited number of photos in this article, it was planned to take more after the supper break, however, the traditional post supper dancing was cancelled.

Dancers 02C

On a lighter (and final) note, a local, Shane, who was passing by, dropped in with his family on their way back from the Gawler Show, interested to see what was going on.  Dancers were impressed by Shanes “friendly country style” his openness, honesty and well behaved family.  He and his family sportingly had a go at a basic square dance with Les Tulloch calling for them prior to the official dance programme (well done Les).  Coincidentally, it transpired that Shane was an extra in Mc Leod’s Daughters and also worked some of the time with the film crew.

Group PhotoC

In conclusion: well done, a great event, BUT Square Dance Magazine knows you can do even better!


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