Friday, 22 January 2010

Twmpath dawns

Now I'm not a natural dancer me. In fact I find the whole thing rather embarrassing. I can't watch Strictly Come Dancing (and not just because of Brucie) and Dirty Dancing doesn't do a thing for me at all.

Discos and nightclubs were always something I enjoyed more for the company, the music and the dressing up than the actual throwing of shapes on the dance floor. My dancing has always been more embarrassed hopping from foot to foot than anything likely to set the dance floor on fire.

But show me a barn dance, celidh or twmpath and I'm your woman.

Barn dances were the Thing when I was young. Dad was in the local Rotary Club and the Rotarians were fond of a barn dance. Not that they were held in actual barns all that often, usually a village hall, but I do remember a few good ones in barns with sawdust on the floor, hay to sit on and some poor beast rotating on a spit outside.

This sort of dancing doesn't require any particular prowess or grace. You can gallop about shrieking with laughter, trip over your toes or once (memorably after a pint or two at a university ceilidh) step on the hem of your skirt and pull it right off. Now that was funny! It was a good job I had my best knickers on that day...

Rotary barn dances were replete with whisky and cigars and businessman bonhomie. There were so many that I soon learned the dances. Stars, promenades, skipping in a circle, making an arch, all good fun. One I remember involved two couples linking arms to form what was called a basket. You then spun around and the men involved made it their business to get the women airborne. I have clear memories of flying around in such a basket formation courtesy of two enthusiastic (and very probably drunk) Rotarians.

Tonight was a giggle too. A twmpath dawns in the village hall, organised by the parents association to raise funds for the school. A scampi and chips meal followed by dancing. The children volunteered, adults were press ganged, protesting but secretly wanting to. You can't do that sort of dance and worry about making a fool of yourself, just as you can't not smile when doing that sort of dancing. And it was terrific fun. The children enjoyed themselves and we even won a raffle prize (a big fluffy sleepy teddy bear). The proceeds of the raffle (over £300) are going to Haiti now, not school funds, by request of the children.

It all rather took my mind off other worries - chronic abdominal pain, thought to be gall bladder - which meant I couldn't eat tonight's scampi and chips, on doctors orders, no matter how much I wanted too. I was back at the surgery again on Tuesday. Doctor mentioned the word 'surgeon', I said: "I don't like the sound of that" so Doctor ordered another ultrasound scan and a low fat diet. No scampi and chips for me then. I realised, discussing this with aforementioned doctor that this has been going on for three years now. I've tried to ignore it in the hope that it will go away but all the while it has steadily worsened while I spend my days counting the hours until the next dose of Paracodol and nights lying awake imagining all kinds of horrible reasons for the pain and worrying how I would tell my daughters...

Meanwhile I'm back clocking up the miles in my trainers again. I'm 'sort of' training for the Llanelli half marathon which means I'm doing the training, but I haven't actually entered. Yet. After so much rain, then so much snow, and a few weeks of not being able to run because of boring medical issues previously mentioned, it was great to be out and moving again. Human bodies, I have realised, need to move and to sweat. Muscles need to be contracted and relaxed, limbs stretched, preferably in the fresh air in nice countryside. Running does that extremely well, as does dancing I suppose and I always run with music, so perhaps it is dancing of a sort just in a straight(ish) line.

I'm sure everyone went home happy from tonight's Twmpath. It was a bit of a laugh, a great deal of silliness and lots of smiling. I danced with somebody's son, somebody's husband. I did a couple of dances as the bachgen (boy) rather than the merch (girl) which was confusing as I couldn't get the hang of promenading as a man. And twirling around holding hands with my partner was something I did a lot in the playground, but that was a long time ago and I've forgotten how!

Were my daughters embarrassed? Probably, which means it must have been a successful night! Those two are now unconscious in their beds having danced themselves dizzy. One is clutching a big white fluffy bear.

Happy days.


  1. Ah yes, that takes me back to my kids' childhoods too. One we tried circle dancing "somewhere", but I have to say that although great fun, the armpits on offer would melt paint! For a while we also went to country dancing classes - I kept forgetting my left from my right, and stamping when I should be twirling and tripping up . . . great fun though. I suppose you will son be gearing up for the Eistedfodd season - now that's something I DON'T miss - a line of 60 children all murdering the same song . . .

  2. I thought you hid the chips left on your plate with the napkin rather well!

    Great night, shy as I am I really enjoyed dancing with all and sundry - even though I got confused with all of the chwith a dde and sometimes being a merch and then a bachgen!

  3. Sorry to hear that you've been so under the weather, but well done for getting out running (don't know how you've done it, gosh, you must be determined!) but, OMG, how I hate twmpaths or any kind of country dancing! Totally NOT my idea of fun!

  4. Sounds like marvellous fun. I used to love "strip the willow", which requires some concentration and best not performed under the influence of Scrumpy cider. Hope you manage to tame your recalcitrant gall bladder.

  5. I wish barndances would come back into fashion - I fancy a good old promenade and a twirl about. Does this welsh version involve similar traditional folk music?

    Sorry to hear about your stomach pains. Gall bladder sounds worrying - I do hope it resolves soon xxx

  6. Sounds great fun. I used to be way too wary of making a fool of myself to do this kind of dancing but the older I get the less I care and now I love it! don't like the sound of your stomach pain. Take care of yourself.

  7. My dad was a caller and an accordian player in a barn dance band, so we went to plenty of them as a child. Most enjoyable.

    hope everything is ok physically.

  8. What a lot of fun you must have had! I love the idea of measuring the good time by daughters' embarrassement.......and I laughed at the vision of you stepping on your skirt at a long-ago dance.
    I hope that you'll soon feel better and be back to eating what you like!

  9. Maybe when I get better at my banjo I can play at Twmpath? I doubt it somehow

  10. Love proper dancing not this jigging about we do at discos - but there againsecretly in my Kitchen! And as for running yup I think I'll take a leaf out of your book bodies definatley need to move adn music is a gre4at accompnaiement!


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