Monaro Folk Society Annual Colonial Ball @ Albert Hall

2 September 2017

The Albert Hall is a place of memories. Great occasions from yesteryear, and in its new and refurbished glory it still plays an important part of our city’s life including elegant celebrations, funerals, exhibitions and diplomatic receptions, even weddings.

It has the best dance floor in Canberra and is a favourite for the Monaro Folk Society for their regular balls where ladies dress in elegant period costumes and the gents in penguin suits of all variations. Well most do. On occasion the mix of choices for these formal occasions is definitely an eclectic mix.

To celebrate the 100th year of the finishing of the Trans Australia Railway on 17 October 1917 with the final ‘spike’ hammered in to connect the line in the remote South Australian town of Ooldea, the Monaro Folk Society decided for their 36th annual Colonial Ball to commemorate the occasion and invited guests from interstate to join the festivities.

Queen Victoria made an appearance sweeping all before her with a grand entrance, while locals gathered for the traditional Grand March, circulating the room before following the official dance card favourites that included dances I’ve never heard of such as the Maxima, Triplet and Railway Polka.

Accompanying them was the Heritage Ensemble while the all important ‘calling’ was well handled by Heather Clarke of Brisbane dancing about in her ballet shoes to direct the dancers and skipping back to the microphone to keep it all in order. Not for this lot a bit of ‘free range’ dancing. It was all orderly and precise, elegant and smooth as the rustling silks and satins of the ladies and jolly hard to remember what came next.

Of course I remember a few school formals, concerts where sneaking out the back for a quiet drink was de rigueur and everyone was picked up by a sensible adult at the end. But this bit of old world charm showed the grand old Albert Hall still has a sense of occasion about it, and a group of dedicated organisers who make the most of it. Not a wall flower to be seen.