Port Elliot & Goolwa Weekend Away

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This years weeken away started on Fri 22nd March 2013, most of our dancing took place in the Institute Library building, located in The Strand at Port Elliot.  The heritage hall is also used on Friday night’s by the Paddle Steamers Square Dance Club

The foundation stone of the original library and attached hall was laid on 28th September 1882, the hall was then extended to its current configuration in 1927.  From 1939 until the popularity of drive in theatres undermined patronage, the hall was used as a “picture theatre” (cinema), it is now used as a community centre.  The recently sanded wooden floor is of Huon Pine and is continuous the length of the hall, indicating it too was laid in 1927, it has a nice sprung feel and provided a very pleasant dance surface.

The Hall External

 The original 1882  hall has the first 3 side windows.

The weekend attracted a good mix of dancers from Adelaide, I saw badges from Adelaide Outlaws, Sunset Twirlers, Paddle Steamers, Leisurely Squares, Wild Frontier and Kanella Squares.  I also spied Bob & Margaret our regulars from the Riverland, A few TAWS badges and John Casey from Queensland who also did some calling.

Thru the front door

 Street view through the front door

John Casey

  John Casey a caller from Logan City Queensland

Friday night saw our first dance at Port Elliot; this dance was hosted by the local square dance club, the Paddle Steamers.  For much of the night we had 5 squares up and dancing with at least one square sitting out gas bagging, so we likely had around 40 people in the hall.  Paddle Steamers had organised a large raffle and a big supper was served at the end of the dance, after which contented dancers waddled home. 

Jeff & Dancers F


Stage View F


No Dogs

It appears Papillons only obey French signs

I did notice during breaks that a group of male dancers were assembled on the steps at the entrance to the hall.  None were smokers and they said they had come out for a breath of fresh air, but I suspect they were eying off the bar in the pub opposite the hall.

Hotel Elliot

The tempting venue opposite our dance hall

On Saturday Afternoon Jeff called a plus dance in the hall at the caravan park. The hall was about the size of a small aircraft hanger and was half full of vehicles equipment and stores used at the park, apparently it was originally built as a roller skating arena.. Two to three squares danced, but many dancers were more interested in relaxing watching those with the energy and inclination, some club members were playing mini golf outside.

Now of recent times, Jeff took to picking on Lloyd and me.  One night behind the mike, Jeff poked fun at Lloyd’s pot, which is rapidly disappearing because Lloyd is losing weight.  Jeff said “I can’t see past Lloyd’s belly”, to which Lloyd replied “game on”.  So we decided to even up the score a bit, but at a time of our choosing.  I had a lovely photo of Jeff which I enlarged to 12” x 8”, Lloyd displayed this to our dancers then, with a few appropriate words and amidst much laughing, presented it to him.  It will be interesting to see if there is a second round, Lloyd and I, like Jeff, seem to thrive on challenge.

Jeff's Photo

This pot was calling Lloyd’s kettle black

At 6.00 PM a large gathering assembled in the restaurant for the pre dance dinner at the Middleton Pub.  Many dancers had driven over from Adelaide and were not staying at the caravan park.  We had 66 people in the bay view room of restaurant.  The 3 course meal was very pleasant as much to eat as anyone could wish with a help yourself salad and hot veggie bar.  Coffee was also included in the price of the meal.  I reckon there would have been around 150 people eating in the restaurant, the venue is very well patronised by the locals – good food reasonably priced is good business. So staff were flat out keeping up with orders, hence we were still in the restaurant at 7.40 PM.  A phone call from one of our friends waiting outside the hall told us there were some unhappy dancers wanting to get out of the cold and into the hall.  And so we raced off to let them in.  Fortunately Middleton is only 5 or 6 minutes drive from Port Elliot.

Jeff & Dancers S

Whilst the evening dance at the Institute Library Hall was a bit late starting, dancers were soon having fun on the floor.  We managed seven squares on the floor with more than one set sitting out so likely had around 80 people at the hall. 

One More Lecture

Another clarification from Jeff???

Faces 3

Thanks we are all suitably confused

Someone's Got A Smile

At least Darryl is smiling and he drove all the way from  Apollo Bay Victoria

John, as requested, called El Paso City, but did no first walk the dancers through the call sequence.  This proved to be a tad too difficult for many of the inexperienced and learner dancers, who were not used to the unusual ladies back to back position, Do Paso and the importance of knowing who their new corner was.  Some chaos was also apparent when Jeff called the Grand Colonel Spin, even though he walked the dancers through the call.

Faces 1

So far so good.  We think we got this bit right?

Once again we had an enormous raffle and supper was provided, however I did not stay for supper, I was still too full from the evening meal.  From the feedback I received irrespective of any difficulties I observed, dancers had a great night.

Kitchen Staff

Susan having an intense discussion in the cafeteria which opens off the hall

The traditional Sunday morning workshop was supposed to start at 10.00 AM in the caravan park hall, but in reality, it did not start until about 10.25 AM, due to the many weary stragglers who arrived late and Jeff flapping his gums (he likes to chin wag his way around the hall before he engages his clutch and moves into square dance gear).  During the workshop we managed 3 squares with a lot of people sitting out chatter bagging, on one occasion (after the caffeine had kicked in) we managed to get more off their bums and achieved 4 squares.

Workshop Venue

Bugger we f0rgot our roller skates!

Jeff’s workshop concentrated on the calls  “Turn Thru”, Spin The Top, and “Wheel and Deal” from facing lines, which feels a bit strange, considering that call usually takes place after a “Pass Thru”, it took us a while to get used to doing that simple move from that different position.

We Do What

We do what??

Toilet Break

Please Sir can I go to the toilet

Putty In My Hands

No Alan you can’t, you ‘ll just have to wait till recess!

Jeff also spent a lot of time on “Spin Chain Thru”, including the occasion where he sets up one left hand wave and the other right hand.  This challenges the caller lab definition because in this instance a trade is required when crossing from one wave to the other, because both dancers crossing between waves end up facing in the same direction.  They therefore need to trade so they both face the correct direction to join up and do the finishing three quarter turn.

The caller lab definition is:  “Each end and the adjacent center dancer turn one half (180°).The new centers of each ocean wave turn three quarters (270°) to make a new ocean wave across the set. The two centers of this wave turn one half (180°) to reform the wave across the set. The two outside pairs of dancers of the center wave now turn three quarters (270°) to join the waiting ends and form parallel ocean waves. The Facing Couples Rule applies to this call”.  I have always remembered the definition as half, three quarters, half, three quarters.  Jeff’s variation employs half, three quarters, trade, three quarters.

If you want to know more about square dance definitions click on this link: http://www.tamtwirlers.org/tamination/info/index.html  This is the website of the square dance computer program “Taminations” which gives the definition of each call from mainstream through to Challenge and provides an animated graphic showing where the dancers in the square move to for each listed call.  I have also placed a link to this web site on the front page under “square dance rescources”.

Hans Get Over There

 Get it right, I want to go to recess!

Some People Are Happy

At least Sandy and Inge are happy

Unhappy John

Not sure about John (do I see the fires of a deep hatred burming)

Irrespective of the nitty gritty of the spin chain thru definition, it was a very stimulating workshop which opened the eyes of many dancers as to the many different positions from which calls can be made.  At the end of the session we were treated to additional voices when April and John did some calling.

Pat Wendy & Spotty

Spotty’s groupies Pat & Wendy (no they are not spotty)

Pauline & Spot

Pauline, another Spotty admirer

Our workshop dancers were very impressed when Chris, a local from Goolwa, arrived in style in her pony and trap.  She took many of the ladies for a quick spin round the block. Twenty seven year old Spotty, an ex trotter pulling the trap ,did a great job dragging all those bodies around, I felt sorry for the poor old bugger having to do so much work on a Sunday morning (supposedly a day of rest).  I especially took photos of Pat riding in the trap because her friend in England said she could not see Pat’s face on our website, and I needed a fix for that problem.

Chris, Pat & Spotty

Spotty Pat & Chris

In the evening a group of stalwarts gathered in the caravan park hall for a group BBQ.  Needless to say as increasing quantities of sore throat lubrication was consumed, the volume knob of the group conversation turned further to the right.  We started the BBQ at 5.00 PM and I retired just prior to 10.00 PM after merely consuming one bottle of red.  Others had progressed from the wine, onto and finished the Port, and, when I left were eyeing the Scotch whisky.   During the evening, as the consumption of sore throat lubrication increased, so too did the criticism of the caravan park facilities.  It appeared to me that many thought the place was overpriced for what was on offer, further, John was extremely critical of the inferior cutlery provided in the cabins, the forks were not even capable of picking up a pickled onion.

The Stalwarts

 The Stalwarts

I know that when I arrived I was most impressed how they had “tarted up” the arrivals desk / office.  The bloke behind the desk informed me that they were now transforming the caravan park into a “lifestyle village”, hence the air-conditioned leather chaired lounge for prospective customers and the new show home opposite the office.  It seems to me that the caravan park now takes second place, hence all the permanent people have been sent packing and park management are obviously spending as little as possible maintaining the facilities in the park.  No doubt next years venue will receive less criticism.

Apart from the adverse observations and criticisms, all in all it was a weekend where everyone enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie we associate with the square dancing fraternity.  Well done Paddle Steamers, Wild Frontier and Kanella Squares committees.  Next year will be even better.


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