How it all began.
1n 1965 Mrs Swainger, a teacher at the C of E school at Yate, was fascinated by the Nibs Matthews programmes on the radio and was inspired to try and start a dance club. She gained the support of the headmaster, Vic Heathfield, who gave permission for the use of the church hall, used by the school as a dining hall and who provided records from the school. Chris and John Forward were amongst the founding members of the club, with Chris calling for the first meetings of the "Yate Folk Dance Club". Once firmly established Ray Swatton from Corsham came and called, with music by Ted Hughes and with Shirley Hughes helping to demonstrate.
The club became very popular, with people coming form as far away as Malmesbury. Coach trips and outings were arranged, and the club even entered a team in a competition. Fortunes varied with numbers from a high of well over 40 to a low of a small core of keen dancers not perhaps too sympathetic to those less experienced.
The church hall at Yate was due to be pulled down when the new school was built, and the club had to find new premises. Following a suggestion of Ken Spreadborough the club moved to the Frenchay Village Hall in 1969, and at their first general meeting of the "Yate" club at Frenchay decided to change the name to the "Cleeve Country and Square Dance Club".
During the first five years at Frenchay the club usually had two special events each year - often dances at some larger hall - Downend or Hanham. One year one dance was "Country" and a second "Square"; another year one event was a weekend of dance at Halsway Manor. By 1975 the club had settled on a single annual event, the Annual Dance.
In the early days of the club the last club night before Christmas was always a party night with American supper, and this we still do. Also our "tea and biscuit" goes back to the earliest days, even through the period at Frenchay when entry was at the other end of the hall and there was no kitchen, (hall extension made during the 1979-1980 season).
Club problems and policy have remained much the same over the years - trying to find the best compromise between two extremes; to concentrate on straightforward dances tends to discourage the experienced dancers, whilst to always have the more intricate and interesting dances discourages newcomers. The club has sometimes depended mainly on experienced callers, sometimes on regular callers from within the club, in particular on Peter Howarth who first called regularly at the club in 1973. By 1985 it was thought that the name of the club no longer reflected the clubs activities; "Cleeve Folk Dance Club" was suggested, but the "Frenchay Folk Dance Club" was thought more appropriate, - hence our present name.
The Club Committee has continued to respond to the changing needs and aspirations of the membership. Since 1998, very successful weekends of dancing at a seaside hotel have been arranged by the Club, attracting dancers from other parts of the country. Live music for our dancing on Club Nights was introduced in 2002. We have drawn on the talents of a variety of local musicians and it has become an important feature of the club. As well as an Annual Dance early in the year, an Autumn Dance was added to our programme in 2005. Well-known callers and musicians from around the country are booked for the two dances and the weekend away.