Interview with Ivy Romney, 21 April 1999
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Ivy Romney [IR] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Bradwell-on-Sea on 21 April 1999. IR talks about her involvement with the Woodcraft Folk, being executive of the Essex Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) Essex District Committee, the politics of the EFDSS and splitting to form the Essex Folk Association, and her involvement in folk dancing, particularly international dances, teaching and calling.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] IR talks about dancing in her youth, starting around the age of 6; dancing at school being a common practice; her involvement with the Woodcraft Folk (WF) in Dagenham in 1935 and during the Second World War. SC comments that her father was involved in the WF at the same time. IR talks about the style of dance in the WF, English folk dancing; the lack of physical education at school, folk dance as an alternative; Cecil Sharp's promotion of folk dancing in 1923-24, teachers adopting the activity; the range of dances in WF; WF international camps around 1935; boys and girls mixing in WF.
[00:08:35] Accepting or rejecting folk dancing in her youth; her English reserve; teaching dance aged 14, standing in for her mother; taking a break from WF during the war; running ballroom dancing in the NAAFI [Navy, Army and Airforce Institutes]; lack of qualifications in folk dancing; EFDSS introducing a certification; the lack of competition in EFDSS holding it back; the lack of folk in the NAAFI.
[00:14:18] Coming back to WF after the war; attending WF London Area Council; drama and singing; WF festivals during the war and annual festivals post-war, first at the Co-operative Society on Leman Street; WF structure and meetings; catering and tea; the war.
[00:18:54] Music for WF festivals, typically gramophone and records; pre-tax records and purchase tax; leaving the WF in 1953 due to her mother's illness; changes in folk dance; rebuilding of Cecil Sharp House; Saturday dances with mixed couples to discourage older unwed women from dancing together; bringing in younger people; the popularity of American square dancing; folk dancing venues; 'whites' dancing [tennis dancing]. Discuss SC's parents' dancing.
[00:25:15] IR talks about the negative impact of having to have mixed couples on folk dancing, with less opportunity for teachers to dance; the rise of physical education making dancing obsolete in schools; folk dancing as a sport, art, and drama; Playford dancing in recent films at the time of interview.
[00:29:44] Her involvement in a Youth Hostel Association (YHA) camp in Holland; the formation of and her involvement in the Society for International Folk Dancing.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] Her preference for international dancing; European dancing; the social advantages of folk dances; the range of contemporary dances; Touchstone Group in Wivenhoe, short of women.
[00:04:27] Getting involved with the EFDSS Essex Area Committee; travelling between Cecil Sharp and Steeple; international group in Steeple and Purleigh, declining numbers; being the treasurer for Essex Area Committee for 17 years, with international dance taking back seat; the large remit of the treasurer; organising Playford Balls at Cecil Sharp House.
[00:09:32] Organising dancing at East Mersea Youth Camp with Les Marple [LM]. Discuss SC's family's experience of East Mersea Youth Camp. IR talks about knowing LM after forming the International Dance Group at Elm Park in 1957; her involvement in the 1951 Festival of Folk Dancing; teaching English and international dancing; the dissolution of the youth clubs and condition of the camps.
[00:15:38] Dancing in the late 1960s at Bradwell, Steeple, Purleigh, and various clubs and festivals; still dancing at time of interview, to records; the complexities of involving musicians in club nights, convenience of records; the Grand Ceilidh Club band and not needing a specific tune to dance.
[00:20:24] IR shows SC some of her folk badges.
[00:22:02] IR talks about the reorganisation of the EFDSS; an Essex County Council meeting with David Dougan [DD], feeling of a takeover bid; being asked by Cressing Temple to organise a folk dance festival, confusion over organisation; offering DD a Playford Ball at Cressing as a demonstration.

Tape 2 Side A

[00:00:00] The success of the Playford Ball; the changing structure of EDFSS and the creation of the Essex Folk Association (EFA); the structure and finances of the EFA; clubs changing to affiliation only; the reformation of EFA from old district clubs to allow international dance-focused clubs to join; splitting from EDFSS; receiving copies of English Dance and Song (EDS) magazine; the movement gaining strength through separation.
[00:05:19] Losing membership in Essex, at time of interview, due to political issues at EFDSS; attempts to sell Cecil Sharp House and her involvement with the Friends of Cecil Sharp House; the longevity of executives at EFDSS.
[00:09:09] Fewer young people getting involved in the movement; other types of dancing; ageing practitioners; decline in the quality of social dancing; productivity of other dances, lack of commitment.
[00:14:18] The relationship between national pride and folk dancing in her youth; dancing on May Day, Empire Day, St George's Day; changing attitudes towards Englishness after the Second World War; Americanisation during the war; Playford dancing at the 1951 Festival of Britain, emphasising Englishness but not Britishness; the formation of Scottish and Irish groups; regional pride and possible formation of groups; being unable to do Irish dancing, lack of blend between English and Scottish.
[00:19:33] Not dancing at the time of interview for health reasons, starting to teach and call; quality of teaching, exactness; dances with different conventions; frustration at barn dancing; not enjoying the Grand Ceilidh Club calling; lack of interest in writing about dancing; wanting to relax.
[00:26:15] Discusses the ethics of calling; teaching dances she did as a child; writing about new dances making old dances less popular, fear of losing the old dances; individual dances.
Dates of Creation:
21 April 1999
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Ivy Romney (b.1921, Poplar) discovered English folk dancing through the Woodcraft Folk. After moving to Essex, she was involved in running dance groups in the Dengie area, particularly in practicing international dances. She later became involved in the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) Essex District Committee, and the splitting of the Essex Folk Association from the EFDSS. At the time of the interview, she was still involved in teaching and calling dancing.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
3 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassettes]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/8/3
Dates of Description:
10 May 2022
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk