> June Tabor > Songs > The Dancing

The Dancing / Saturday Night at the Adam Smith Hall

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 137275 ; Andy Shanks, Jim Russell]

June Tabor sang Andy Shanks and Jim Russell’s song The Dancing in 2007 on her Topic CD Apples. She noted:

Written as part of Fife’s New Makers Trust songwriting initiative in the late 1990s, which sent local songwriters into care homes to listen to and to record the memoirs of residents, Jim and Andy based this song on the reminiscences of 101-years-old Mary. “The dancing was the dancing,” she said. The importance—both social and romantic—of the Saturday night dance was immense. How many of our own grandparents met this way?

My parents did, too.

Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar learned The Dancing from the singing of June Tabor and sang it on their 2012 Fellside CD The Queen’s Lover and on their 2015 live DVD Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar in Concerts.

Jenny Reid sang The Dancing at Sheffield’s Kelham Island singing sessions. This recording was included in 2013 on the Seville House Records anthology Kelham Island Voices. The album’s notes commented:

Jenny is driven by the fascination with the common and unique experiences of ‘ordinary’ people. The story of The Dancing was collected from a woman called Mary, recalling her youth from a nursing home in Kirkcaldy. Jenny learned it from the singing of June Tabor.

Magpie Lane sang The Dancing in 2017 on their CD Three Quarter Time. They noted:

Originally titled “Saturday Night at the Adam Smith Hall”, The Dancing was written by Andy Shanks and Jim Russell, inspired by stories they were told by residents of an old people’s home at Kirkcaldy in Fife. We learned it from June Tabor’s album Apples.


June Tabor sings The Dancing

Saturday night at the Adam Smith Hall
The couples all move to the dance master’s call.
Tonight they’ve no problems, no worries at all;
It’s the dancing, the dancing’s tonight.

Chorus (after each verse):
And oh, Monday morning, she comes round too soon;
The sound of the flaxmill, the beat of the loom,
But tonight the band’s playing a romantic tune;
Aye, the dancing, the dancing’s tonight.

Her partner is perfect, so light on his feet.
The footwork is faultless. Perhaps they might meet
Up by the old kirk or down Hunter Street,
Walking home under the stars.

Walking back late by Kirkcaldy’s sea wall,
The sea looks so big, the sky is so tall.
The fate of two people can’t matter at all;
Just a waltz in three-quarter time.