Monday, 31 October 2011

Strictly it's not!

There are some things in France which hark back to a simpler, more uncomplicated life and the Tea Dance must rank highly on the list.

There is a small, dedicated group of people in our little hamlet of Le Breuil aux Gittons whose aim in life is to preserve a community spirit, especially as we are 33 houses spread over quite a distance with no cafe where locals could meet to discuss the burning issues of the day!

Throughout the year, we have various entertainments organised by Les Amis du Breuil - for example a free concert by the Clion amateur wind band in June, and our annual Mechoui which is held during the summer months. A sheep is obtained, butchered and then cooked on an open fire for hours. All the hamlet is invited to participate in a communal meal which lasts rather a long time! We will write more about this next summer.
In order to finance this, a The dansant is held in the winter. We knew there was one planned for the beginning of December when we will be back in the UK, but this was an 'Exceptionnel' (I think to ensure there were sufficient funds for next year!)
A bit flash for Le Breuil!

What we didn't realise is that it is really a marathon and not to be undertaken lightly! It started at 2pm, there was a break at 5pm and then it kicked off again at 6.30pm until 8.30pm.

We arrived for the late shift to be met with a hall full of locals out to enjoy themselves on an autumn Sunday.  There were all types of dancers - the serious 'look at us' types, to the shufflers (and I put us in the latter category), but all were having a great time. During the break, 'pain aux raisins' were handed out, together with the aperitif of rose wine and pamplemouse (grapefruit juice) - but no tea!
The band were local celebrities too - our neighbour, Alain is head honcho of 'Les Compagnons du Musette', a local 4 piece band which does the round of local dances. They also have a string of CD's and DVD's to their credit. They have a dedicated band of 'groupies' who seem to follow them around the area, so any Tea dance which has them playing is sure to have a full house.
That's Alain on the right with the accordion

The place eventually emptied by 9.30, and we started to clear glasses and tables, but the night was far from over. In the kitchen I could see 2 very well cooked chickens together with some other food items. Apparently, after everything quietens down and things are tidied away, helpers are invited to sit down for a meal! We had soup, followed by chicken and green beans (which had been re-heated with some garlic and shallotts -yummy). We didn't have cheese as someone had forgotten to buy it (!), so we had a bit more chicken with the salad. All rounded off by some of Gabby's preserved fruits. We eventually got home around 12.30am!
We were back there this morning at 10.00 to finish clearing up.

Our first Tea Dance, but probably not our last - a lovely way to get involved with the locals - many of whom are happy to teach you the intricacies of French 'ballroom' dancing, which can be very different from the UK.

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