An unlikely war - linedancers v ballroom dancers

NADV 1201261 St George's Social Club. (1201261AM2)
NADV 1201261 St George's Social Club. (1201261AM2)

A LINEDANCING group from Harrogate has been locked out of its club - by the ballroom dancers.

The extraordinary dispute at the St George’s Sports & Social Club, off Leeds Road, centres on whether the linedancers have any right to practise there after the resignation of their secretary.

In an anonymous letter to the Advertiser, one aggrieved member said that with no one currently at the helm of the linedancers, “the ballroom dancers will be a law unto themselves”.

The developments have left the linedancers feeling “bullied”, but the rival group insists it has done nothing wrong.

Around 75 dancers, many of them women in their 70s, have been forced to find a new venue after the lock-out at St George’s, the linedancers’ home for 15 years.

Glenn Robinson, 63, of St Leonard’s Oval, who stood down as secretary of the linedancers last month, said that on December 22, treasurer Shirley Eaves had gone into the building to collect money to bank, only to find that she was locked out.

“The ballroom dancers had been in, changed the locks and locked a third of the membership out of the club,” he said.

“One member said ‘We’ve changed the locks for security reasons’, but they didn’t offer any keys and they haven’t offered any since.”

Of the 210 members of St George’s - which includes both dance groups, as well as snooker and salsa clubs - around 75 are linedancers.

“There was a lot of animosity,” Mr Robinson said. “The people they have locked out are ladies in their 70s.

“They feel intimidated and bullied - they don’t want to go back and face them.”

The linedancers have now found a new venue, practising at St Andrew’s Church Hall in Starbeck, but Mr Robinson said it wasn’t the same.

“They’ve gone from what is a social club into a church hall. The floor’s not bad, but it’s not a spring dance floor like at St George’s,” he said.

“It’s like going from the Ritz to the Blitz.”

Mr Robinson, who has taught linedancing for 19 years, said he had become involved with the running of St George’s in 1997, when it was deep in debt, but had left it with £30,000 in the bank “and a beautiful club, all refurbished over the years”.

The 10-strong club committee is split evenly between ballroom and linedancers.

One of those responsible for the lock-out, who did not wish to be named but identified himself as the current licence holder, told the Advertiser: “They haven’t got a contract to dance, it’s as simple as that.

“The man who had the contract resigned on December 17, and it hasn’t been renewed.”

He said representatives of the linedancers had been invited to an extraordinary general meeting on January 3, but had neither turned up nor apologised for not doing so.

The linedancers claim the meeting was unconstitutional.

Local councillors have offered to mediate in the dispute, and the ballroom dancers say they are willing to engage with them.

Committee treasurer and linedancing teacher Shirley Eaves said the snooker and salsa clubs had also been locked out - as they happened to use the building at the same time as the linedancers - adding that the situation was “very awkward”.

“They have just made it so awkward for us,” she said.

“We’ve gone elsewhere - I don’t want any more to do with them.

“It’s a few people that are causing the trouble, I think the majority of the ballroom dancers are fine.

“It’s just so stupid, really. There’s been so much animosity to us, with no real reason. They have been telling their dancers that it’s us.”

Mrs Eaves added that Mr Robinson had rescued the club when it was in real trouble.

“These ballroom dancers weren’t there when linedancers were working hard to get the club going,” she said.