News Archive



==April 2016== Vale Greg Strutt

We are very sad to inform you of the passing of musician Greg Strutt, one of the members of the family band “Coalbrook Ceilidh” who play Anglo-Celtic-European music for Colonial Balls, Bush Dances, Social Dance Workshops and Displays; and as “Salmiakki Pelimannit” play Scandinavian music for many different groups. It was a pleasure to see Greg enjoying playing at the recent National Folk Festival in Canberra (Easter 2016). Best wishes go to his wife Helen, daughters Catherine and Jennifer and their families.


== May 2015 == Vale Peter Ellis

It is with much sadness that we have to report that Peter Ellis passed away on 18 May, a short time after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He will be missed by many in the dancing and music community. His funeral will be held at the Mulqueen Family Chapel, 15-25 Bridge St, Bendigo, Victoria on Monday 25 May at 11:00am. Regards from Jan and Vic Orloff

Peter Ellis was the first Chairperson of AFSD which later became ASDN. He wrote many articles re the history of dance and music – some of which are shown on the page ‘Articles”.

A Tribute to Peter Ellis – The Downfall of Paris (a dance)[

  • Peter Ellis was a tremendous mentor, valuing and encouraging my research into early colonial dance and the Australian step dance tradition when very few people seemed to be noticing. He hugely encouraged the continuing research and we were in constant communication about many aspects of dance heritage.
  • He was particularly keen to revive the dance The Downfall of Paris and planned to include it on a CD of Australian Regency dances which we were working on when he died. I was a little reluctant to approach the dance as it looked long (64 bars) and involved, and perhaps not suited to modern tastes. However, Peter told me it was one of his most favourite tunes, so I decided to tackle it. It is a lovely dance, flowing and eloquent, not complicated, and a great pleasure to such an exquisite tune.
  • We will present The Downfall of Paris in the Dancing into Battle workshop at the Bundanoon DanceFest this weekend. This workshop features dances associated with Waterloo, the famous Duchess of Richmond’s ball on the eve of the battle, and the Australia connections.
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  • March 2014

    The Scottish Country Dance Ball is being held at the National Folk Festival on Friday, April 18, from 7:30pm. Find attached a flyer for the ball and the crib notes for the dances.

    July 2013 Edition

    ASDN has been active over the last 12 months in promoting social dance and communication between social dancers in Australia. Keith Wood has taken on the role of organising the web site, which grows apace. Remember that if you are a member and you want to add an item to this web site you can contact your state rep or me (Alex Bishop:

    Roger Gifford and Ray Mulligan have actively promoted the beginners’ dance stream at the National Folk Festival with the support of ASDN. It is the second year that the beginners’ stream has run at the festival and this year NFF management enthusiastically supported the initiative.

    John Carroll, Ray Mulligan and Marta Kasarik organised an online survey of dancers at the NFF with over 100 responses. An analysis of dance at the NFF over the last 20 years showed the changes in participatory dance over that time. AFSD members can see all this by logging on to the group site If you are an Australian social dancer but not a member and you want to join, use the “Join” tab to the left or go to our Group Site above and complete the online application. Membership is free!

    The ASDN group has been frequently used for communication over the last year with 197 messages posted.

    October 2012 Edition

    Two big changes for AFSD have been made. Firstly, as you can see, our web-site has been updated to make it easier to add new content. Even I can do it! Thanks go to Keith Wood, our current webmaster, who has put much effort into our new site and to Geoff Lau, our recent webmaster. It is up to you now to put your interesting stories, pictures, anecdotes and links on the site to show the world what a vibrant social dance scene we have in Australia. All you need to do is send your copy/photographs/links etc. to your local state representative with a copy to Alex Bishop (see Contacts page for details).

    The other big announcement is that our first elections have been completed and the new committee has been formed. This happened several months ago and we intended to announce the committee with the new web-site so here it is. The old committee remains the same and is joined by three new members: Ray Mulligan (ACT); Heather Clarke (QLD) and John Carroll (VIC). Ray is a well-known dance musician who, together with Roger Gifford, has been instrumental in initiating the beginners’ dance stream at the National Folk Festival. Heather has had a longstanding interest in early Australian dance and her web-site and workshops showcase her knowledge of the area. John Carroll is a peripatetic dancer based in both Melbourne and Canberra who is a dance “polymath”, bringing a wide knowledge across a variety of areas.

    October 2011 Edition

    Nesa Simon David from Canberra has put together a fantastic new approach to publicising your dance or to finding out what dances are happening in your area. Check the following link to his DanceCal which lists dance groups, dance styles and the dates, times, locations and contact details for social dances

    If your dance group’s information is not there you can easily fix that by entering it on the calendar. Easy-to-follow instructions are on the site.

    June 2011 Edition

    Download this PDF edition of the June 2011 AFSD News.

    March 2011 Edition

    Fitzroy Pavilion: new major dance venue. There have been many exciting recent developments in Australian social dance. The National Folk Festival in Canberra is approaching and we are all looking forward to four full days of dancing at Easter. Thanks in part to our submissions to festival management we will have a big new venue, the Fitzroy Pavilion, to call our own. It will be the focus for the main dances such as the Colonial Ball that had to be held off-site last year. None of it would have happened without the support of dancers, dance musicians and folk festival supporters of all kinds who raised over $20,000 for a new dance floor. It wouldn’t have happened either without the commitment of festival management and the new General Manager, Sebastian Flynn.

    Parade and display at Easter. To celebrate the formation of our Federation at last year’s festival, and the subsequent achievement of suitable dance venues at the National Festival, our Queensland representative, Jan Orloff, has organised a parade and display. Dancers will assemble at the Fitzroy Pavilion for a parade to the Piazza, to be followed by a demonstration there of the diversity of social dance in Australia.

    AFSD Banner

    Decorating Fitzroy. We also want to show our pride in having Fitzroy as the main dance venue by putting our stamp on it. We are assembling as many dance group and dance band banners as we can to decorate the hall and show newcomers what a wide range of groups are involved. In addition the festival site managers will be providing a notice board and table for displaying promotional material for your dance group. We want to make it as easy as possible for the large number of people who are not dancers but are interested in social dance to connect with a group in their home town.

    Promoting social dance more widely. The AFSD currently has two forms of membership (both free and online). For those who wish to make their opinions heard and comment on developments, you can join the AFSD online group which allows for two-way email communication. For those who just want to be kept informed of general developments but don’t want more than one message a month you can join our email list (see this website under Join AFSD). Fill out the form with your details and email address and mail it (or scan and email to the secretary, Robyn Graylin. We aim to make our AFSD website the primary source for information about social dance in Australia. If you wish to post information on the site contact Robyn, who will liaise with the steering group regarding its suitability for posting. If you are attending the NFF at Easter and want to have your say, come to the AFSD meeting at 4.00pm on Thursday 21 April at the far end of the session bar (or the tent immediately adjacent).

    Alex Bishop

    October 2010 Edition

    Moving On First the bad news: It is with some sadness, but also understanding, that we report that Peter Ellis has announced his resignation from the position of Chairman of the AFSD.

    “Due to work loads and my important commitments researching history of social dance in Australia I find myself in the position of needing to step down as Chair of the organisation. Recently I’ve been so busy in all directions I’ve barely had time to think much less respond to AFSD matters”. Peter Ellis.

    Peter was responsible for convening the meeting at the NFF, which led to the formation of the AFSD. Initially he required some persuasion to accept the role of inaugural Chairman, but fortunately for us, eventually acquiesced, and went on to became the perfect Chairman. His steadying hand will be missed. We can however, look forward to increased production of his invaluable dance history material, which we hope to make available to members in the near future.

    Alex Bishop

    The good news is that Alex Bishop, who was author and envoy to the NFF together with Peter, of the Venue Submission, has agreed to take over from Peter.

    Dancer and musician, as well as husband to Contra Caller Julie, Alex is well known in the Folk Scene. How lucky are we to have him at the helm!

    Dancer Floors

    Disappointingly, the offer made to the NFF by Robert Baird, to supply a free set of engineering drawings, and the offer of labour involvement for the floor construction were both rejected, because of insurance and OHS issues. The NFF did take on board some of the valuable suggestions made by our members, though.

    We still have a request before the Director to see if AFSD members will be permitted to become involved with the decoration of the Fitzroy. Watch this space.

    Rolling the Ball

    Everyone must know by now that the target of $20K, toward the purchase of a new dance floor for the Fitzroy, was not only reached, but exceeded! Total stands at $22,668. Well done to all the dancers and friends (much of the money was raised outside the dance community) for making the new floor possible. I’m sure we will all enjoy dancing upon it next NFF.

    Applications & Programming

    We were unable to raise sufficient interest amongst our members to warrant the preparation of a submission of recommendations to the NFF concerning their Application process. It would appear, though that the process is much improved this year. Let’s hope the issues of recent years that plagued so many of the performers have been put to rest.

    As far as we are aware, Programming for the 2011 NFF hasn’t commenced yet, and at this stage we have no input to offer.


    Our website has just had a re-vamp with more to come. Thank you to Geoff Lau and Mark Snell for their time and effort. We are fortunate that Geoff has also agreed to take over from Aylwen as Webmaster.

    Aylwen was instrumental in setting up both the Google Page and the Website and we are very grateful indeed for the many, many hours she spent on the job. Neither of the AFSD Pages would have been possible without her technical input.


    Now that our Webpage is functioning effectively and our Joining Procedure has been detailed more accurately, we need to encourage more people to join the Association.

    We see the future of the Association as being a contact group for dancers of all persuasions, right throughout Australia, so please encourage your dancing friends who attend the NFF, or even those who only have an interest in preserving or enjoying dance, to join.

    Dancing at the NFF Google Page

    Our Google page is still presenting headaches and Google has announced some changes to become effective on November 1. The Page has always been problematic, so we are taking the opportunity to re-think the whole issue. Watch this space.

    Diversity in Australian Dance Parade & Display

    ‘Diversity in Australian Social Dancing’ will be presented at the National Folk Festival in 2011 on the Piazza to launch the Australian Federation of Social Dancers. This will involve all interested dancers and musicians either in group presentations or individuals as part of the massed display, portraying the many kinds of social dancing enjoyed by many all over Australia. It will be preceded by a parade through the festival site (AFSD and Musicians on Parade). Many groups and individuals have already indicated their interest in participating, but it’s not too late to join in.

    Contact Jan for more details or your state representative to register your interest.

    Alex Bishop