Letters in STS magazine Jan and
March 2013 (issues 79 & 80) responding to my article on dance
It is rare indeed that organisers choose to reply to comments made by Mr Wozniak, as he
represents the sort of person that is never satisfied by our efforts, but I feel obliged
to reply to the comment about the Olympiad floor at Chippenham made by him in his article
in STS 78.
Mr Wozniak was quick to complain about the state of the Olympiad floor, and he is correct
in reporting that I said something like 'we have to work with what we have'. This was a
reflection on the fact that the Olympiad Sports Hail has a floor designed primarily for
sporting activities that require a non-slip surface, which is in direct contradiction to
that desired by dancers. However, on this occasion the floor was clearly worse than
normal, bearing in mind that it had already been used on the previous night for a ceilidh.
Having received numerous comments and experienced the state of the floor for myself, I
visited the Olympiad duty manager, and was advised that the floor had not been recently
treated, but had been thoroughly washed overnight. This was the problem. I advised the
staff to sweep, but not wash, the floor during the festival, and all then returned to
I will of course remind the Olympiad staff not to wash the Olympiad Sports Hall floor
during the forthcoming festival weekend. There would, however, be no point in making a
special visit to the Olympiad in advance of the Festival weekend, as the floor will of
course continue to be maintained specifically for sporting activities right up to the
Please note that the majority of festival organisers and managers, Chippenham included,
are unpaid volunteers, who annually do battle with an ever-changing mix of challenging
problems, including venue availability, floors, health & safety issues, town
redevelopment (e.g. plans for a skate park where the Big Top is normally located), etc.
Each year we have to make compromises with what is available to us. Strong castigation of
our unpaid efforts does not encourage us to continue with this work.
Best regards Mike Courthold, Dance Director, Chippenham Folk Festival.
I need to respond to Mike Courthold's rebuke in STS 79.
As a scientist Mike should value free exchange of information and views, and the
benefits that can result. My comments on dance floors were not all negative. I merely
bestowed praise where it was due and questioned inadequacies where necessary. As a result
we now all know that a wooden floor should never if possible be washed immediately prior
to a dance. That had never occurred to me as a possible reason for the problem at
Chippenham last year. Thus knowledge is gained and, via STS, it has been widely
disseminated and at minimal cost. Even a respected science journal could do little better!
As for the perennial inadequacies at Sidmouth, it is legitimate to ask why every year the
same things go wrong. This is partly because there are not enough stewards, when several
people (me included) routinely have our applications turned down because we have offended
the management in some way (in my case by telling the truth maybe?) And before anyone else
complains about me, I did praise the new Stowford Rise venue at Sidmouth!
As an aside, if the Chippenham organisers think they have problems with a proposed
skateboard park, they should come to Sidmouth. We have a proposal for acres of industrial
buildings just outside Sidford, on a flood plain! Also it is proposed to knock down the
historic Knowle council headquarters (site of the Arena in the old days) and replace the
car parking areas and some of the parkland with housing. This has created a furore (see www.saveoursidmouth.com) but as Sidmouth is a
one party state, it will probably all be nodded through after fake consultation.
Recently about ten of us from Gittisham Folk Dance Club went
to a ceilidh at Bridport in Dorset. We danced to the Cottage Industry Ceilidh Band. They
mainly do weddings and were not expecting a room full of experts. Once they had got used
to the idea that we wanted to dance all the time and not have endless short breaks, it was
worth the 60 mile round trip. A notice stuck to the wall of the church hall caught my eye
'Do NOT wash this wooden floor. It will be damaged'.
Best wishes Stephen
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