Frankfurt Spring Ball
The annual Spring Ball has been the social highlight of the dancing year in Frankfurt and a drain on our time in organising it almost from the birth of the group. In spite of that we always enjoy seeing old friends again and meeting new people every year.
The first Frankfurt Spring Ball was held in May 1968. We do not have any record of one in 1969 but there has been one every year since 1970 so that we celebrated our 40th ball in 2008. We want to give you a brief history of the Frankfurt Ball on this page.
The ball was held in the Kurhaus in Hanau-Wilhelmsbad from 1968 until the 30th Ball in 1998 – and we celebrated with a photo display showing the club's history and a giant ice cream cake (donated by the restaurant owner) which was rolled into the room at midnight as a surprise! The Kurhaus was somewhat limited in space (squeezing past shoulder to shoulder in reels or finding oneself in a neighbouring set were more the rule than the exception) but the elegant surroundings were a compensation. We have a lively memory of »kidnapping the bride«: there was usually a wedding reception in a another room in the Kurhaus so sometimes the bride would be »kidnapped« by a horde of wild Scots for a waltz next door – to the amusement of the bridal party.
We also remember the awful food in the period up till about 1992. You were presented with a plate with a pre-prepared portion (you had the choice of vegetarian or not when registering) and for those who were really hungry there was a dish of Waldorf salad on the table. We only managed to get a buffet when the restaurant was taken over by a new manager who is also unforgotten and still mourned by many of our ball guests. (By the way, on the very early ball invitations there is mention of a »cold buffet« so the pre-prepared portions was fortunately not a permanent institution.)
In autumn 1998 the story spread through the local press: the tenant of the Wilhelmsbad Kurhaus restaurant had done a moonlight flit and taken with him the complete kitchen equipment and everything else not nailed down. This had been preceded by problems with the »Administration of the State Castles and Gardens in Hessen« which is responsible for the Kurhaus and evidently incapable of reaching an agreement with the tenant in the matter of repairs, redecoration and the like. No cash was forthcoming, the rent was reduced and even the courts were involved. This abrupt end drove us to seek a new venue for our ball almost in panic as we only discovered what had happened by chance via the press.
After searching around, Jack and Hannelore found the Stadthalle Hattersheim – on the other side of Frankfurt, which gave rise to some grumbling from those guests living to the East and rejoicing from those in the West. The round shape of the room however took some getting used to and we had to mark out »set lines« with sticky tape so that the ladies and gentlemen at the far end of the dance floor would not have to rub noses like the eskimos.
The Hattersheim era marked a change in MC from Jack to Anselm; the latter had to take over at short notice in 2000 when Jack feel ill just before the ball. After Jack's very sad premature death in 2002 he took over the job permanently.
In summer 2006 it was time to look for another ball venue again as the tenant of the Stadthalle Hattersheim moved on to pastures new. Various communal and other function rooms in the Rhine-Main area were contacted, inspected and rejected – mostly due to the exorbitant fees charged to non-local clubs. Hence the search committee under the leadership of Eva Schiedrum decided to make a virtue of necessity and to confine the search to the place where we are - even if indirectly - a »local« club, i.e. Frankfurt. The city locations here are run by the Saalbau GmbH and so, after a brief visit to the »House Ronneburg« in North Frankfurt which we liked a lot but whose availability could not be guaranteed, we decided in favour of »Volkshaus Enkheim«” on the East side of Frankfurt, near to the »Hessen Center«” (a shopping centre), the tram line and end of the Autobahn A66. (Those living to the East were happy again. This time those in the West were moaning).
The first ball in Volkshaus Enkheim was in 2007, initially under somewhat difficult conditions. Contrary to the grandiose promises of the Saalbau the renovations to the restaurant were nowhere near finished so that the new tenant had to improvise with »mobile catering«” for the ball which he managed magnificently, minor problems being dealt with promptly. The kitchen has been installed for 2008 and we are hoping for the best…
Our music was mostly »canned«, like the majority of balls in this country. It is only in the last decade that we have managed to get some live music, thanks to the following musicians:
|1998||Anselm (keyboard) – for some of the dances|
|2000||Stefan Schatz (accordeon) and Anselm – for some of the dances|
|2002||Keith Smith (fiddle) and Anselm – everything|
|2003||Christine Moos (fiddle) and Anselm – everything, plus choir|
|2004||Keith, Christine and Anselm, plus Toni Auchter and Sjoerd van Leersum (pipes)|
|2005||Christine and Anselm with Joe Wheadon (double bass), Andrew Dewdney (accordeon) and Toni|
|2006||Christine, Anselm and Joe, and Toni as piper|
The 35th ball (2003) was marked by the world premiere of the FSCDC Symphonic Choir which accompanied the dance »Bratach Bana«. The singers, who were recruited from family and friends of the Frankfurt group, were however not very happy with the gaelic text or the murderous tempo so that we have not had a repeat performance to date. (We have the feeling that this is not regarded as a serious problem by all of the dancers. The organisers of the ball decided to engage two Irish step dancers for the 40th ball.)
A summary of the Frankfurt ball programmes can be found on a separate page.
The origin of the »Zwiefacher«
In the old days (1972 to 1990) it was the custom to dance something non-Scottish after the ball during the Easter or autumn course at Rechberg. My brother, Winfried Blum, had some folk dance music with him on one of these courses and called some simple dances – including a »Zwiefacher«. That evening Jack and I danced this two step and some others until we dropped. Jack was so taken with this type of dance that he asked me to bring along some suitable music to the Frankfurt Ball, but just to make sure he managed to get hold of some suitable music himself. Hence, Jack always reserved a two-step with me at the Frankfurt Ball. Later, Hannelore had the first one but I came next. It was always a dream to float with Jack through the room although I got terribly giddy from the endless turns every time. When the music stopped Jack stood firm as a rock and held me until the room stopped spinning! I will always remember that feeling and the fun we had in connection with Jack and my memories of this wonderful man.
So says Uschi Lange (former Henco). The photo shows her and Jack in full flight.