Tuesday 1 May 2018

Bunders celebrates 10 years young!

by Colin Fong
2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Bundanoon DanceFest held over the June long weekend. Since its inception in 2009 dancers and dance callers and musicians have travelled from NSW, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania for the experience and it is now recognised overseas as a dance destination.
The story of Bunders goes back to 2008 when a group of dancers and musicians attended a weeklong dance tour on Norfolk Island primarily organised by Barbara and Lance Court with Dave Johnson programming the dance and the music. After this experience the question "What will we do next?" was answered with the first Bundanoon DanceFest, then known as the Bundanoon Weekend of Bush Dancing and now referred to affectionately as "Bunders". 

Merka Viigisalu and Adrian Giacobetti (centre couple)    (Photo Dave Johnson Collection)

The Bundanoon DanceFest is run by Bush Traditions Inc with Dave Johnson, a Life Member of the Bush Music Club, organizing the programme and cajoling the musicians and dance callers, while Ray Mulligan manages the venues and finances. Well over one hundred dancers converge on Bundanoon and the event contributes greatly to the local economy by way of accommodation and hospitality. Over the years there have been many styles of dances taught with Australian colonial, bush and contemporary being the focus. The programme has regularly included Ballroom, Scottish, Irish, English, Morris, Contra and European (Estonian, German, Swedish, Norwegian) plus excursions into Tango, Blues, Rapper Sword and such. The different styles of dancing has meant many dancers have had to leave the comfort zone of their favourite dance style because in the evening the different styles are demonstrated and danced.

(Photo Dave Johnson Collection)
 Live music at all the workshops plus the evening dances is a big attraction for both dancers and musicians. A lead musician liaises with the workshop caller and organises the required music. This is made available via the Bush Traditions website for musicians to download and practice before the weekend. Musicians incidentally volunteer their skills for the double joy of playing with capable leaders and for experienced dancers.

Mainly fiddles        (Photo Sandra Nixon)

The dance programme has three streams of 90 minute workshops, with four time slots on Saturday and Sunday and two on Monday morning. There is a welcome dance on the Friday night, a Saturday night dance then a bush ball on Sunday night. For the past few years, due to crowding on Sunday evening, another dance has been held in the school hall. The weekend finishes with a dance on Monday afternoon 

Over the years, the main venues have been the Soldiers Memorial Hall, the Bundanoon School hall and the Bundanoon Club, with other venues such as the Uniting Church hall and the local motel occasionally needed. Accommodation in the town and nearby villages is booked solidly, and some frost hardy souls even camp at the local Pony Club. Bundanoon in June means that the nights are significantly cooler than the days. 

To avoid unnecessary waste reuseable ceramic cups are provided and bottomless cups of tea and coffee are available. Since the dance festival commenced, the town of Bundanoon has become the first in Australia to cease selling bottled water and people have the opportunity to have free filtered water at taps located on the footpaths. 

(Photo Dave Johnson Collection)  
After the evening dances many people gather in the hotel lounge where musicians jam along together with the occasional singalong. 

Bundanoon DanceFest welcomes dance callers, musicians and dancers.

he Bush Traditions website has all information & contacts

Bundanoon on the June long weekend, are you going to join the dance locomotion?

Dancing the hornpipe with Colin Towns - featuring Roland Clarke on fiddle! 
(Photo Sandra Nixon)

Acknowledgements: To Dave Johnson and Sandra Nixon for corrections and additions to the text and photos.

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