Fifty Years of Dancing
1949 – 1999
The Northampton Folk Dance Club originated from an evening class at St. George’s Intermediate School. When this class ceased, the Club was formed and met at the Friendly’s Club in Earls Street until 1972 then, after a few years, at Holy Trinity Church Rooms, moved on to Kingsthorpe Upper School in 1976 where they stayed for a year. In 1977 the Club moved to the Church Hall at Christchurch, where they have been made most welcome, for the past 22 years.
The Club’s original name was “The Northampton Square Dance Club” but this was changed to “Northampton Folk Dance Club” in 1988. This name alteration was necessary because many other forms of dance are called at the club nights in addition to Square Dances, such as Playford, Country and American dances. The Club members cover a range of ages with the oldest member in his 90th year; he regularly calls for club dances and never sits out a dance on club nights.
Two of the original founder members still come to Thursday Club dances.
The Northampton Folk Dance Club will be celebrating their fiftieth Anniversary this month with a Supper Dance for past and present members.
A dance was held in memory of Don Flower of Wellingborough at Christchurch Hall in Northampton, the home of Northampton Folk Dance Club, on Saturday. Music was provided by the Long Odds band, which Don led until his death last year. The evening’s dancing was led by caller Jean Byron-Williams, and included dances and tunes chosen by band members, family and friends to remember Don’s long association with folk dancing and music in the county. The event raised £335 and this will be donated by his wife Hazel, who plays bass in Long Odds, to Northamptonshire Folk Activities Association (NfAA). It will add to more than £600 which was raised by donations at Don’s funeral for NfAA. Don helped produce NfAA’s folk event bulletin for many years and its winter edition included tributes to him. One tribute said: “The folk world has suffered a great loss with the recent death of Don Flower. “He was loved and respected by all who knew him and his contribution to the folk scene was immeasurable. “He was a true gentleman, kind and courteous, patient and wise and always so encouraging. “He had a vast knowledge of folk music and dance which he was always keen to share with others. “Many a musician or caller, when starting out, received much help and encouragement from Don. “He had a wonderful knack of quietly getting people to do things that they thought they were not capable of. “He never took ‘no’ for an answer.”
Don was a founder member of Northampton Folk Dance Club and served on the committee and as chairman.
In the mid 1980s, he started Earls Barton Folk Dance Club.
He was also a scout and scout leader and was a member of the Camping and Caravanning Club for 47 years, serving on the committee of the Home Counties area of the Folk Dance and Song Section.
A Memorial Dance for The Late John Harris
24th November 2016
A tribute by Alan White :
John Harris died on 6th April 2016 after a long illness, aged 82 years. John’s many years in the folk dancing world started when he asked Mary out and she told him “only if he went dancing”. His reply was “I’m not dancing, that’s cissy stuff.” But he did and he and Mary were married in 1958. His passion was American Square, with names like Little Red Wagon, 42nd Street, Poor Boy and one that I think was his favourite “Oh Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble”. He loved to call with a band such as Don Flower’s Long Odds, Ivor Maycock’s The Square Crows and Duncan & Maggie Scott’s The Occasional Few. He would travel many miles over the Midlands and Southwest to call at a dance, not getting home until Sunday morning. John was Chairman of Northampton Folk Dance Group for over 17 years, and called at Northampton Town Hall dances, Abington Park afternoon dances and Folk Group Easter Meets. He raised hundreds of pounds for Cynthia Spencer Hospice by running barn dances for them. John helped many people to start calling by giving advice and encouragement and will be sadly missed by all whose lives he touched over the years.
A memorial Dance was held at Christchurch Hall for the Late John Harris. The dances were called by Lynne Whapples and the band were Long Odds. The event attracted around 50 people, some from Northampton Folk Dance Club and others who had known John. The photos show the current Chairman, Alan White, doing a ‘singing’ call for one of the Square Dances whilst the caller Lynne has a break.