Ballroom dancing, tea and love hearts

Pictured above: The Green Oak Choir.

On Valentine’s Day last, a romantically-themed Tea Dance was held in Clanna Gael Fontoy GAA club.

It was a charming affair with many older couples and groups turning up to take in the ballroom atmosphere. Cary Posavitz and the Players played wonderful old-time music, songs such as, ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’ and ‘Route 66’.

The locals from Ringsend, Sandymount and Pearse Street, many of whom had clearly danced before, were initially shy and nervous, but with much encouragement from an increasingly enthusiastic choreographer, Muirne Bloom, were soon on the floor learning the cha-cha-cha. As the participants showed their moves, they were met with fast music where things got lively.

Spending some time with the organisers. I learned about the group Alight, a part of Dublin Culture Connects: National Neighbourhood, which is open to residents from Irishtown, Ringsend, Sandymount and Pearse Street.

They organised this night in conjunction with Coiscéim dance theatre. Their aim on the night was partially to encourage older members of the associated communities to come together, although the event was open to everyone. Coiscéim train non-professional dancers to a high standard. According to Philippa Donnellan, “it keeps them fit, and improves their well-being,” while also getting them creative and teaching them about the art form.

Above: Chris Reads and Jimmy Reddington.
Photos by Kevin O’Gorman.

Many took it upon themselves to dress somewhat extravagantly in red and in one particular case wore hearts on their front and backs, conveying “you ain’t seen nothing yet,” regarding their bold dance moves. The atmosphere was smooth and silky, bouncing to the rhythm of the dancers and bursting into frequent shouts and cheers.

Alight seek to bring different communities together aiming “to inspire and connect communities in a lasting and meaningful way,” through guidance and mentoring by professional artists. To that degree it was a success on the night as the general mood was one of cheer, goodwill and mirth as well as a genuine enthusiasm for the dance.

By Kevin Mac Sharry