Mannum Boatshed Square Dance


The Mannum Rowing Club Overlooks the River Murray, A Pleasant Setting

Click on all photos to make clearer/bigger – click again for even more!

What a night!  We had very short notice to plan this dance and were unsure how many dancers would fit into the Mannum Rowing Club boatshed (commandeered by Guy and Deirdre Wellman in very short time) so we decided not to advertise.  It all started when Jeff talked to Ray Fairhall, who said he would be with about 40 square dancers on a Murray river cruise ship, dancing their way along the river a week before Christmas, so the club agreed it would be a great idea for our learners and other club dancers to meet with them for a combined dance. We only had 43 seats available on our luxury coach which were quickly snapped up. 


Coachies meet the Boaties

But word got around that this would be bonza country style dance with plenty of fun, food and drink and so another 40 or so dancers headed for the venue using their own transport, some taking their caravans as well.  And so it was that more than 120 dancers met on the night of Thursday 16th December 2010.


The coach party, started out early from Brigalow Avenue with plenty of pre trip wine and nibbles, hence they were a coach party in a party mood by the time we headed off.  Chris the driver was a great bloke, his comments and jokes went down well.  Unfortunately Chris suffers from arthritis in his feet, which limits him to pushing the brake pedal to no more than 100 times on a trip, so eventually when he had to brake we heard him shout over the PA “oh no, oh no, were all going to die”.  The rowdy mob at the back of the bus were determined to get passengers to do a Mexican wave, they prevailed and eventually succeeded (thankfully they had no plastic beer cups to throw in the air).


Back of bus Rowdies (2 on left)

We arrived in good spirits to mix with those dancers who had already arrived, and what a mixture we had, dancers from SA, Queensland, ACT, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Germany plus 3 callers, Brian Hotchkies, Jeff Seidel and Ray Fairhall.  We in fact had a 4th caller who did not call, Milton McKenzie, who came along with some of his Paddle Steamer dancers from Goolwa.


Jeff, Brian and Ray

Yes Ray does have eyes (open most of the time he is awake)

Axcel for Toelzer Twirlers Germany

Axel has danced in quite a few places

There was ample room in the shed to accommodate all who attended, dancers had plenty of seating around the inside perimeter and tables and chairs were placed outside on the riverside grassed area.  The evening was pleasantly cool, ideal for a dance and the riverboat moored next to the venue made a nice backdrop to a magic location.  At one point we had 11 squares up on the (concrete) floor, with many other dancers sitting out watching chatting and imbibing.  Yes, the venue had a bar with low prices and a charming barman, Robert, who is Guy and Deirdre’s youngest son.




Sir!  Please!  NO BARMAN PHOTO’s !

We had a mega 8 prize raffle which Guy won 4 times (what a great bloke for only taking one prize and demanding a redraw each time his name was called again).  Entry was free for our interstate visitors and those on the coach; others made a gold coin donation.  At supper time, the club put on many extra plates of cold chicken and salad to compliment the basket suppers many dancers brought with them, resulting in 8 supper tables groaning with food, well done all (mind you I did notice that there was an absence of Jeff’s favourite food – crayfish).


We’ll just mind the boats

Taking advantage of the large space, Brian introduced his boaties and us landlubbers to tandem squares.  An additional 8 dancers form up in pairs standing directly behind the traditional heads and sides positions.  It was great fun having lines of 6 dancers doing a dosido and 16 dancers doing the grand square (he should have tried a grand slide – that would have required even more space).

 We’ll just have a quiet tipple outside by the river

It was great to see the MV Expedition’s (name of the boat) chef and captain have a go at square dancing, it’s a pity Chris’s arthritis prevented him from also joining in.


This blokes a professional photographer how come I had to take the pics?

We eventually boarded the coach after 11.00 PM and arrived back at Brigalow around 12.30 AM where we proceeded to hastily clean up the remnants of drinks and nibbles and headed for home.  Helen and I managed to hit the sack at around 2.00 AM for a short sleep, prior to the clubs break up Christmas dance that night.  We heard that the clubs Santa, who was also with us, had to drive across Adelaide early in the morning, hence would get little sleep, so we wondered what condition he would be in that evening.


I just love rich ladies!

We had some great calling from Brian, Ray and Jeff.  The Wild Frontier committee did an excellent job and an especial thankyou goes out to Guy and Deirdre who spent the afternoon moving boats, chairs and tables, so we could all fit in, then worked hard in the kitchen to ensure everyone had a good feed.


Brian taught Jenette to square dance when she lived in NSW

Ray and Brian are organising at least one other Murray River Cruise from the 10th – 15th July 2011 (and I believe one cruise on the high seas with some country singers and Mike Parks – a local SA disc jokey).  So if you are interested in participating, contact Ray for more details on (02) 4362 8014 or Brian on his website at

 The MV Expedition

A fantastic effort from all involved – lets do it again!

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