BIRMINGHAM FRIDAY FOLK DANCE CLUB
Started 27.1.1978 by Anne and Ray Oakes in Birmingham Inter-Varsity Club’s own premises (top floor 65 Barwick Street in the city centre) to compliment the monthly Saturday barn dances IVC been holding since 1974 (these were organised by Terry Goodison with Arnold Steeds as frequent caller, I’ve found a reference in the IVC bulletin to the charge for one of these as 80p including food). Friday Folk initially met fortnightly with the intention of doing more interesting and varied dances than on Saturdays.
1980 – 1984: Anne & Ray continued to be organisers (except for a short maternity break when others, particularly Sue Hunston, took over). John Warren did a few Modern American Square Dance specials. At this time there were usually over 30 IVC members attending, often several more men than women. Arnold Steeds was a frequent caller and there were also guest callers. (During this time the IVC Saturday dances were run by John Fisher, John Rennison, Peter Mason, Arnold Steeds).
1984 – 1988 Arnold Steeds was the organiser. Regular club callers were: Arnold Steeds, Anne Oakes, Frances Richardson, occasional guest and other club callers. We started meeting weekly.
1985 IVC held the first of fifteen very successful annual Moxhull Hall Hotel open air dances – with up to 200+ people this was the biggest event BIVC ever had.
1988 The lease on Barwick ended, IVC moved to 291 Corporation St, but this wasn’t very suitable for dancing so Friday Folk moved to Victoria Tennis Club, Handsworth Wood. (Peter Dixon took over Saturday Dances from John Rennison but the monthly Saturday barn dances in our own premises came to an end – there having been many with big-name callers and over 100 people).
1994 Alan and Janet Cash took over from Arnold as organisers. Callers still Arnold Steeds, Anne Oakes, Frances Richardson, plus Liz Green, John Shakespeare and occasional guest and club callers. As before music was normally records but occasionally live.
1997 By now numbers were down to an average of 20 or so (some being non-IVC members) so we went back to fortnightly. Howard Lowry and Diana Price took over the organisation. Changes to Victoria Club room made it unsuitable for dancing so we met at nearby Elmwood Church then at Rowheath Pavillion, Bournville. New callers introduced: André Hobro, Keith Budd, John Pitcock, Paul Lindley.
1998 We moved to The Ancient Order of Foresters, near Pebble Mill.
1999 We started alternating between Ancient Order of Foresters and Victoria Club (room suitable again).
2001/2002 Within a few weeks both Ancient Order of Foresters and Victoria Club closed. We transferred to St Anne’s Church Hall, Moseley and moved the starting time forward to 8.00 (over the years it had slipped to 9.00). Average number down to 15; by now the majority were non-IVC members, often more women than men. Regular callers: André Hobro, Liz Green, Paul Lindley, Neil Franklin, John Shakespeare, John Pitcock.
2003 The IVC committee decided that Friday Folk couldn’t continue as an IVC event. The regulars decided to set up as an independent dance club from September, calledBirmingham Friday Folk Dance Club. After an uncertain start, with numbers down to 10 – 15, it is now flourishing, with 30 – 40 most weeks.
There are still links with IVC – it is publicised within IVC; several IVC members are regulars; people have become IVC members, after hearing of it at Friday Folk.