Social Dance

Social dancing is dancing for pleasure – your pleasure:

The different styles of folk dance mostly have their roots in traditional country dances from different cultures, not just from the British Isles but also from other places around the world. Country dancing is intended for general participation and the dances usually have a fairly simple, easy to follow, movements. Although some familiarity with the steps might prove useful, it is possible to gain experience whilst still having a great time.

Generally the music for the dance will be either pre-recorded or sometimes there will be a band of musicians playing tunes in the requisite tempo for the dance. For example, Prêt a Danser (the French country dance club) have a wonderful band of musicians who play for the dancers.

There might also be a ‘caller’ whose role is to instruct the dancers how to perform the dance before it starts and to call out useful guidance to remind the dancers what they should be doing at key points throughout the dance.

Dressed up for the Playford Ball

Playford dance is a form of traditional dance with its roots in England. A music publisher called John Playford published ‘The English Dancing Master’ in 1651. (Later editions were simply called ‘The Dancing Master’.) This was a book of brief instructions for a hundred or so semi-formal dances, based on country dances. However, they were generally danced by educated people as a light relief from the very formal and demanding society dances of the time. Nowadays the term is used to describe any dance in that style, whether it was included in Playford’s books or if it is a newly-composed dance choreographed by a contemporary Dancing Master. While some dances may have originated in rural villages the vast majority were, and still are, written by Dancing Masters and choreographers.

Every year the EFA organises a ‘Playford Ball’ with appropriate music and callers to explain how the dances should be performed. Details of the Playford Ball can be found on our Events pages.

Contra dance (or Appalachian dance) developed in the USA from British roots and is now an up-tempo, fast-moving, intricate dance form made up of long lines of couples dancing ‘figures’. Couples progress up and down the lines as the dance patterns are repeated. It has mixed origins from English, Scottish and French dance styles from the 17th century.

Clubs specialising in Social Dancing:

Sunday Clubs

The Friends Of English Dance
used to meet in Cecil Sharp House but because of space limitations they now meet in a dance studio nearby (the Regents Park area of London). The venue may change from time to time, so please contact Judith for the latest information.
Judith De Witt 07949 147165

Quadrille Club
10.30am 3rd Sun of month
Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Rd, London NW1 7AY
Ellis & Chris Rogers 01689 600768

Monday Clubs

Bulmer Folk Dance Club
2.30pm-4.30pm 2nd Mon. of month (not Jul & Aug).
Bulmer Village Hall.
Peter Rowe 01787 375935

Clacton & District Caledonian Society
Conservative Club, Old Road, Clacton on Sea CO15 3AU
Sue Curd 01473 811742

Ingatestone Circle Dance (experienced)
7.30 – 9.30pm 4th Monday of month
Ingatestone Parish Room, Stock Lane, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 9EJ
Jan Shedel 01277 352213

Leigh-on-Sea Caledonian Dancers
7.45pm (7.15pm for tuition).
Meetings every week except July, August & Bank Holidays.
St James Church Hall, Elmsleigh Drive, Leigh on Sea SS9 4DP
Ray Helliar 01702 343019

Sandon Scottish Country Dance Club (Near Chelmsford)
The Sandon School, Molrams Lane, Sandon, CM2 7AQ
Eric Johnston 01245 352373

Southend Irish Association (Set Dancing Classes)
8.15 -10.00pm on Mondays(except Bank Holidays)
Canvey Methodist Church Hall (side door), Waarden Road, Canvey Island, SS8 9AB
(1st visit free)
Ann-Marie 07734 350187

Triangle Folk Dance Club
7.30pm (Except 2nd Mon. of month)
Soken House Community Centre, The Triangle, Frinton-on-Sea CO13 0AU
Liz Bruce 01255 676960

Scottish Country Dancing for Fun
7.30 – 9.30 pm, Specified Mondays.
Rivenhall Village Hall, Church Road, Witham, CM8 3PH
Sue Last 01206 303338

Tuesday Clubs

Chelmsford Folk Dancers
8.00pm Except first Tue of month (all year)
Frances Clarke 07796 191389

“Chelmsford Folk Dancers enjoy English and other forms of folk dancing. Beginners or experienced dancers with or without partners are welcome at all our club evenings. Club nights £2 including light refreshment – first visit you are our guest”

Chingford Folk Dance Club
Mornington Hall, Green Walk, Chingford, London E4
Suzanne Harper 0208 508 4770

Marks Tey Folk Dance Club
7.30 – 9.30pm First,3rd & 5th Tue of month.
St Andrews Church Hall, Church Lane, Marks Tey CO6 1LW
Sylvia Gaspar 01787 204033

Running Waters Square Dance Club
St Stephen’s Church Hall, St Stephen’s Crescent, Brentwood CM13 2AT
Heather West 01277 261816

Thaxted Country Dance Club
8.00pm First & 3rd Tue of month
Church Hall, Margaret Street, Thaxted CM6 2QN
Simon Ritchie 01371 830804
Mike Collins   01371 830457

Winchmore Folk Dance Club 
meets at Winchmore Hill URC, N21 3NU on Tuesday mornings from 10am to 12 noon.
WFDC warmly welcomes all dancers, including beginners.  New dancers can have a free taster session. We enjoy dances from a range of styles, with music from the Pride and Prejudice era to modern times.

Experienced callers, recorded music and very sociable. Members £2.50, Associate members £3.00, including refreshments, per week.
Gillian 0208 360 6226

Wednesday Clubs

Colchester Folk Dance Club
8.00pm Alternate Weds.
St John’s Green School, St John’s Green, Colchester CO2 7HE
Tom Grady 01206 549176

Grand Ceilidh Club
8.15pm every Wednesday
RNA Club, 73-79 East Street, Prittlewell, Southend SS2 6LQ
Gillian Stock

Romford & Brentwood Folk Dance Group
Chadwick Hall, St Michael’s Church, Main Road, Gidea Park RM2 5EL
Mary Bryan 01708 752057

Southend Flamenco
Roydon Academy, Maple Avenue, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 1PR
Michael Smith 01702 465244

Witham & District Caledonian Society
URC Hall, The Centre, Newland Street, Witham CM8 1AH
Audrey Kennedy

Prêt a Danser (French & Breton dance and music session) 2nd Wednesday of month.
7.00 – 10.00 pm (Tune Workshop 7pm, Dance Instruction 8-10pm)
Linda Jones 01206 868654/07952 120227

Thursday Clubs

Barley Leaf Folk Dance Club
Catterall Scout & Guide Hall, Cecil Road, Chadwell Heath RM6 6RX
Sheila Skippins  0208 597 2874

Maldon U3A Folk Dance Group
Mornings 10-12am.
Sue Last 07860 397907

Ongar Circle Dance Group
7.30 pm 1st Thursday of month. No experience necessary, as each dance is carefuly taught.
Zinc Arts Centre, High Street, Ongar, Essex (Old Stoney School, near Four Wantz roundabout)
Jill Hope 01277 363085

Touchstone Folk Dance Club (Wivenhoe)
Congregational Church Hall, High Street, Wivenhoe CO7 9LD
Elaine Wood 01206 822877

Friday Clubs

Brightlingsea Folk Dance Club
7.30 – 9.30 pm weekly
Brightlingsea United Church, Chapel Road, Brightlingsea, Essex, CO7 0HB
Sue Last 01206 303338

Colchester Ceilidh Club (Langenhoe)
8.00 – 11pm 2nd or 3rd Friday except January and August
Abberton @ Langenhoe Village Hall
Paul Kiff 01621 868219

File Gumbo
7.30pm Second Friday of each month.
Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Rd. London NW1 7AY
0208 8367 2439

Great Parndon Folk Dance Club
Alternate Fridays
St Cuthbert’s Church Hall, Dobbs Weir Road, Nazeing
Jenny Wyatt 01799 550393

South East Essex Scottish Society (Westcliffe)
St Peter’s Church Hall, Eastbourne Grove, Westcliff on Sea
Graham Easton 01702 587808

Southend Irish Association (Westcliffe)
The Lion & Lamb PH,270 Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 7SD
Last Friday of month (*’phone first)
Anne-Marie (Secretary) 07734 350187

Tollesbury Folk Dance Club
8.00 – 10.00pm 3rd Friday of month
“The Centre” (Tollesbury Congregational Church),East Street, Tollesbury CM9 8QD
Jon Naughton 01621 869509 (evenings)

Woodland Wheelers Square Dance Club (Basildon)
George Hurd Centre, Audley Way, Basildon SS16 2SL
Dennis Oakley 01268 455117

Saturday Clubs

London Barndance Company
8.00pm 2nd Sat of month
Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Rd. London NW1 7AY
Andrew & Jane 01628 782565

Winchmore Folk Dance Club (Enfield)
For more experienced dancers, WFDC meets on the second Saturday of each month in Trinity Church Hall, Enfield EN2 6AN from 7.30 to 10.00 pm. Live music from Chris Carpenter with invited callers. We welcome all dancers from everywhere,  the more the merrier!
Entry for members £5.00 and Associate members £7.00 including refreshments.
Free parking.
Contact: Gillian 0208 360 6226