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Hundreds Enjoy Strawberries & Cream Tea Dance 9 August 2006

It may have been raining, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of visitors to Rushen Abbey last Sunday. The first “Strawberries & Cream Tea Dance’ organised by the Friends of Manx National Heritage was a great success. Nearly 500 dancers, young and old, braved the weather to take a turn on the specially erected dance floor and to indulge in a strawberry and cream tea. Rushen Abbey Dancers

Experienced dance tutors, Ron and Elizabeth Sibthorpe compéred the event. Under their expert guidance visitors were taught simple Ballroom, Latin and Sequence dances. There was also plenty of opportunity for more experienced dancers to demonstrate their skills to an appreciative audience.

The dance marquee was packed all day and brought back memories to many people who remembered the Rushen Abbey Tea Dances from the 1950s and 1960s. Dance music spanned the decades – from Frank Sinatra to Ricky Martin, and even included an original 1959 sound recording of The Jim Caine Trio, regular musicians at the Rushen Abbey Tea Dances.

A special compilation of photographs and film clips from past Rushen Abbey Tea Dances could be viewed by visitors resting their feet between dances.

Katie King, assistant curator for Manx National Heritage, said:

“We have had some excellent comments from visitors to the event. For many it brought back happy memories of dancing the night away at Rushen Abbey, a number of people met their partners at the original tea dances and came especially on Sunday to relive their courting days. The atmosphere was fantastic, experienced dancers were helping novices and everyone seemed keen to have a go on the dance floor”. Strawberries & Cream Tea Dance 1

After taking a turn round the dance floor, visitors were rewarded with an indulgent strawberry and cream tea, together with a variety of delicious homemade cakes and sandwiches. The tea tent was run efficiently by volunteers from the Friends of Manx National Heritage, whose support is invaluable to make these events such a success. Thanks go to all life members of the Friends of Manx National Heritage who have made donations in support of this event. Thanks also go out to Manx First Aid, Ron and Elizabeth Sibthorpe and Jim Caine.

Rushen Abbey is part of the award-winning Story of Mann, and is open from 10am to 5pm daily, until 31st October 2006.

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