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The Southam Gathering

What is it?
The Southam Gathering is an annual August Bank Holiday folk dance weekend for about 120 dancers. Invitations are emailed in January when ticket sales open. We only sell full-weekend tickets, and these must be purchased in advance.

Every year we welcome newcomers to the gathering and we also greet many old friends, some of whom have been attending since its inauguration in 1995! The Gathering was started by Wendy Crouch who invited her dancing friends and it has continued as an invitation only event.

The dancing
It is an event aimed at experienced and competent dancers who are particularly keen on English dance but probably enjoy some American too. You should have wide experience outside your own clubs and go to Folk Dance Festivals such as Lichfield and Eastbourne (now May Heydays), Playford Balls and folkdance houseparties as well as Saturday evening dances.

Although all dances will be called and/or walked through, dancers are expected to understand and follow all standard calls and figures as these won't be explained.

You should be able to confidently do figures such as a dolphin hey, Grand Square, Shetland reel, morris hey, three quarters of a figure eight, and for American - box circulate, flutterwheel.

Workshops are usually on fairly specific topics - "Variations on Heys" or "Dances published by Henry Playford" - while the more relaxed evening dances are less specific and generally labelled as "Playford", "American" or "Mixed". The main emphasis will be on English dancing but there will also be some American. Overall we seem to have a ratio of about a quarter to a fifth "American" and the rest "Playford" style dances. ("Playford" includes modern dances in that style, and "American" means both Contra and traditional Squares.)

Where
It is usually held in Southam, a small town in Warwickshire, some distance South-East of Birmingham; but since our usual headquarters, the Grange Hall is undergoing major refurbishment in August 2024 we will instead be using two halls in the nearby village of Harbury: Harbury Village Hall, (CV33 9JE) and Harbury Church of England Primary School (CV33 9HR). Dancing starts on Friday evening and ends at about 4.30pm on Monday. We have two concurrent dances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and have workshops in each hall during the day, with two sessions each morning and afternoon, except that instead of the Monday afternoon workshops we hold farewell dances, followed by tea and cake.

A weekend ticket gives you admission to any session which has space.

Accommodation
You will need to organise your own accommodation. Southam is not a tourist area, but there are a few bed and breakfasts, caravan and camp sites, Airbnb, and boutique hotels close by. Most of the big chains ((Premier Inn, Travelodge, Days Inn etc)) have hotels within a ten mile radius, so it is not usually a problem finding accommodation even at the last minute.

You will probably need a car (the nearest station is Leamington Spa, a half-hour bus ride away). Parking in Southam (or Harbury) is not a problem although it’s ideal if people car share for travel to and from their hotels. Walking between the two halls is easy, taking 5-10 minutes along quiet village streets.

Your responsibilities
We expect all dancers to help by doing at least one task during the weekend, this can either be stewarding a session (i.e. checking tickets, closing the doors if the session becomes full, and being available to lead people out in the event of fire), making tea/coffee in a break, or helping washing up cups at the end of a break. We like two or three dancers to sign up to each duty so you will always have a helper.

More information
If you would like an invitation to the Southam Gathering please email us with some details of your dancing experience, your dance clubs as well as the names of other dancers who are aware of your abilities. Newcomers added to the list will be invited for a probationary year. The committee reserves the right to include or remove dancers from the invitation list at its discretion.

We are always delighted to welcome newcomers who are competent dancers able to enjoy the weekend.

You can contact us at (apologies for the anti-spam no-copy tricks -- retype it without the spaces)    contact

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southamgathering.orgDOTuk