We are a dance group, or side, of women and girls who dance mainly traditional dances which have historically been performed by women.We also have some more modern dances, which have been written specifically for female dancers.
Who can join?
Any girl or woman from age 11 upward.We do not accept male dancers but we do recruit male musicians – in fact we couldn’t survive without them.
What do we do?
In the off season or winter months we practice every Wednesday evening from 8pm to 10pm at the Methodist Church Hall in The Hundred, Romsey.In these sessions we learn new dances and try to improve our performance of dances already known.We also use this time to maintain equipment and costumes.
In the summer months we ‘dance out’ at pubs on some Wednesday evenings and continue our practice sessions on the other Wednesdays– except in August and at Christmas when we don’t have any Wednesday evening activities.At pub performances we hope to make a collection, usually for a nominated charity, in which case all monies collected go to that cause.
During the summer we also attend folk festivals, fetes, garden parties, weddings, shows and any other event which we are invited to attend.Some of these events we attend just for the pleasure of dancing with other groups, and for some we get paid for our performance.
The payment for performances is made to the side and goes into our funds.This means that we can keep our membership fees as low as possible whilst still being able to cover the costs of hall rental and kit maintenance.
How much does membership cost?
Annual membership fees are £20 per adult dancer and £10 for under 15’s.Our financial year runs from September.
New dancers will be asked to pay weekly at £1 a session until they decide whether to join us as members, at which time any weekly subscriptions already paid will be deducted from the annual membership fee.
Apart from membership fees there will be a dress hire fee to be paid when you are provided with kit for dancing out, which will be in the order of £10.Dresses etc, but not footwear, remain the property of Hampshire Garland.
Shoes and clogs will need to be purchased, but not immediately.Advice will be given on where and when to buy them.Dance shoes can be bought locally and cost from about £25.Clogs are more difficult to obtain and will cost from about £45.
What do we wear?
We have two costumes, or kits, both based on a red, white and blue theme.Our best kit is generally known as White Kit and consists of a white dress, navy blue fichu and hankies, red belt and white bonnet, all decorated with braid and lace.This kit is worn when we want to present our best appearance.Most people can be supplied from existing stock but occasionally we need to get a dress made and we employ a professional dressmaker for this.
The other kit, known as Blue Kit, currently consists of a navy blue full skirt with attached layered underskirt in red and white, white blouse and red waistcoat, white hankies and a navy bonnet trimmed with braid.Dancers are provided with the skirt, blouse and underskirt material ready cut out for them to make up and the waistcoats and bonnets will be made to measure.
Other equipment such as sticks, garlands etc is looked after by dancers on a rota basis.
When do new dancers take part in performances?
New dancers are usually asked to perform at pub sessions and possibly some fairly low key events during their first summer season, but not at festivals or paid performances.It takes the first season to get used to performing in public and being sure that you know the dances – it can be pretty nerve racking the first few times you dance out.This means that in the first year, Blue Kit only will be required.This is not a hard and fast rule though, as dancers who are new to Hampshire Garland may have sufficient experience from other dance sides to be included for more events in their first season.
Who runs Hampshire Garland?
We are a democratically organised group with an elected committee.The committee posts are:Mistress
The constitution and job descriptions (readily available for inspection) give full details of their duties, but briefly:-
The Mistress is the person responsible for overseeing the whole group, being our spokeswoman on public occasions and ensuring that performances run according to plan.She will liaise greatly with the Forewoman and Secretary.
The Forewoman is responsible for the teaching and performance of dances.She will liaise with the Mistress over the programme of dances and dancers for performances.
The Secretary handles all correspondence and bookings for performances, maintaining the group’s diary and keeping in touch with external organisations and publicity media, in liaison with the Mistress.
The Treasurer handles the finances.
The Ragwoman looks after the kit – dresses, hankies, bells etc and ensures that everyone is properly turned out whenever we dance in public.
The Musical Co-ordinator provides liaison between the band and the dancers.
Are we part of any larger organisation?
Hampshire Garland is affiliated to the Morris Federation and to the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS), and affiliation to these organisations gives us the opportunity to purchase public liability and personal injury insurance at preferential rates.