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Country down east dance in Wentworth

Al McVicar from Dartmouth brings his fiddling talents on stage for the dancers at the Wentworth Music Afternoon
Al McVicar from Dartmouth brings his fiddling talents on stage for the dancers at the Wentworth Music Afternoon - Hope Bridgewater

Wentworth News with Hope Bridgewater

WENTWORTH – Music afternoons in Wentworth happen on the last Sunday afternoon of each month, except December, and are located at the Wentworth Recreation Centre from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

The next Sunday Music Afternoon is April 29 and features country music for dancing. The style of dancing is free style for both singles and couples of all ages.

Singles looking for partners will find other singles to dance with or many of the couples will share a partner. Usually Down East country style is played of waltzes, polkas, hop-polkas, jigs, reels, and foxtrots and some dancers jive to these tunes as well.

The music is always linked to dancing, even when singing is featured. The Wentworth Recreation Hall is large, accommodates many dancers and has a hardwood floor well maintained which is excellent for dancing.

Down East country music is a blend of Scottish and Irish tunes brought over to Eastern Canada by Scottish and Irish settlers in the 1700s and is now mixed with the influences of Cape Breton, Don Messer, Acadians, Quebec, New England and Indigenous communities.

An example of these well-known tunes is Orange Blossom Festival. Also, country music composers of today also add to this type of music such as Sherry's Waltz by Dave Bagnell.

Dancing is the focus of this event. Those on stage play the music for this focus. The musicians on stage usually form a band with often the fiddle leading and backed by a piano, drums, guitar, bass, and banjo. At times, a leading performance is done by a saxophone, accordion or singer. The musicians who play do so on a volunteer basis, from different areas in Nova Scotia, or the New Brunswick border, without a schedule or rehearsal, sign in and await their turn on stage.

Their professional skill and volunteer service is greatly appreciated by those attending. Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise for healthy living physically, mentally, and emotionally; this has been verified by scientific studies.

Robert Taylor, fiddler, composer and author, who attends the event, says in his book, Beyond the Music, “Above all learn to play good dance music...Music is the lifeblood of all of us...Music is more than just a sound. Music can take you on journeys of the mind. It may be just a few notes of your favourite jig or reel, but the sound will often take you to a world all your own. It is a driving force. It has great healing power.” 

Charley Patriquin, another fiddler and singer says of enjoyable country dance music, “If that doesn't start your fire what will?”

In brief, country dance music can lift your spirits and be glad you are alive.

Watching the dancers and hearing the music is an enjoyable experience and there is seating on each side of the hall for those just hearing the music and those taking a break from dancing.

Those attending are asked at the door when coming in to make a voluntary donation which will help in the maintenance of the hall and to bring a lunch for the kitchen where the food is organized by Recreation staff for a potluck lunch by all at 4 p.m. during a recess. This is a time for meeting others in friendship and enjoyment.

Other dates in 2018 for the Wentworth Sunday Afternoon dance are May 27, June 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30, Oct. 28, and Nov. 25. We welcome people to come to enjoy dancing at the Wentworth Recreation Centre. The enjoyable session is completely done by voluntary staff workers at the Recreation Centre and by the visiting musicians.

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