Dance Hall Days – Older People North West Concern Group Project – Part 2

Part one of this post is here

Update by Charmaine McBride – facilitating artist (dance)

It has been a joy to be part of this project that has taken on a special life force all of its own. Despite the physical distance, I feel connected to this group in a very rich and creative way. I have been bearing witness to their gorgeous memories from their dance hall days, the music they loved and the dances they enjoyed moving and grooving to.

Quote from a participant below:

“Your music from the dance hall days takes us back in time and reminds us of all the special jiving from Elvis to Chuck Berry and the hucklebuck, bopping and waltzing we learned in our teens back in the 70s when we first met” Louise

By engaging with the videos, dancing to the movement motifs, and exploring the thoughts and ideas within the videos the folk at Malvern House have been reminiscing with their partners, friends, and family. Their level of engagement has been beyond my wildest dreams. They engaged with the videos and the resource so beautifully and with such grace and authenticity.

I feel that through dance, movement, and memory we have started something that touches people’s hearts in a deep and profound way more so now because of the times we are living in. People are feeling isolated and alone so this project and through the amazing enthusiasm and support from Christine at the centre people have been connecting through the medium of creativity and dance. By engaging with the series of videos people are reliving their dance hall days, days that were filled with joy, love, connection, and community. I feel very special to be part of this journey with the wonderful folk at Malvern House.

Quotes from participants below:

“You have amazing energy and your joy exceeds from you to our screens it’s just a brilliant lift to our day” Gregory and Louise.

Participant Memories

Eilish recalled her first ever gig was when she was 14 and was allowed to go to the Cameo off William Street to see Roy Orbison. Many a time a sister’s pair of high heels were sneaked out of the house so that she could swap shoes before and after the dance.

A look at the Embassy Ballroom by Lawrence

Looking at Charmaine’s videos evoked many memories of the Showband scene in Derry and neighbouring towns in the 1960’s. I remember going to the Embassy Ballroom the night the Embassy Club opened. In those days we could join the ‘club’ and be the proud owners of a card that ensured a discount at the door. I think it saved a couple of bob.

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