Whitehawk Seniors 1939

Memories of the Country Dance Team

By Yvonne Bligh

Photo:End of first year Seniors, 1939. I'm in the back row, 2nd from left

End of first year Seniors, 1939. I'm in the back row, 2nd from left

Private Collection

In my first year at Whitehawk Seniors' School, I became a member of the Country Dance team that was being formed to compete in the forthcoming Brighton Festival for Schools, at the Dome, during the month of May. It was to be a mixed team of girls and boys, which was quite a surprise to us girls, because the Seniors' School was divided into two halves; boys on one side and girls on the other side and never the two should meet, at least not during school hours!
On several days throughout the week we would assemble in the Hall of the Girls' School as soon as school lessons were finished for the day, when we would learn our dance steps and practise our routines. We did not get to choose our partners, that was decided by our teacher, but I was very happy with my partner because he was such a good dancer as well as having a friendly and happy disposition and it was the start of a friendship that has lasted to this day.
We did Morris dancing which involved wearing bells around our ankles and large handkerchiefs attached to our wrists to display with the arm movements. We also did stick dancing where we tapped our stick against our partner's stick in rhythms that coincided with our steps.
We girls all had dresses made for us for the actual event; we were all measured and fitted so that we were all well turned out on the day. The cost of the dresses was borne by the school and once the competition was over our mothers were given the opportunity of buying the dresses for us. I was lucky because my mother always bought mine for me, although not everyone's mother was able to do so, in which case the dresses were available to be bought by other pupils. The boys wore grey trousers and white shirts, with their school ties.
The first year we entered we came 4th and in successive years we came 3rd, then 2nd and 2nd again in our final year.  All the members of the Dance Team left school that year, so I never knew if a new team was formed and, if so, how they fared. I do know that I, together with my team-mates and most of my class-mates, were not only sad to be leaving our dancing days behind us, but were really sad to be leaving school at the end of term, never to return.

This page was added on 21/04/2006.
Comments about this page

Lovely story. I too remember country dancing at St Marks junior school. this would have been in about 1965 and I would have been about 10. We were all a bit embarassed but did enjoy it.

By Tricia Leonard
On 20/07/2006