On Bouge is London’s long-running club for French Balfolk, Bal Trad, Bal Occitan and Fest Noz

Please email chris@gigcb.com to join our email list.

Remember our good friend Bernard Loffet, who died much too young in April

We always have Live Music. The On Bouge Band features a driving mix of hurdy gurdies, fiddles and accordeons, though we also know how to slow it down for more intimate couple dances. Duo Mistral (Chris & Caroline Shaw) are usually on hand to share their years of experience of playing and dancing in various French regions. Many of the dances we do are danced all over Europe, but we do like to shine a spotlight on dances from specific areas. Fest Noz, Balfolk, Bal Trad, Bal Occitan are titles used to describe what we do. The accent is on dancing with fun, but we usually try and tell you about the context of the dances, fitting them into the cultural traditions of the various regions.

Beginners and visitors are always very welcome. We are dead chuffed to have such an eclectic mix of nationalities dancing at On Bouge: English, French, Portugese, Italian, Belgian, Polish, Turkish … sadly not necessarily all on the same night, but it’s always fun to see you all 🙂 We’ll show you the easy steps so you can join in right away. No partner necessary, but better to bring them than leave them at home 🙂 You can also come just to listen to the great live music (but if so please tell Chris, cos otherwise he’ll keep nagging you to dance!).


We meet monthly usually on the 2nd Friday of each month (not July or August), but sometimes it is the 3rd Friday (often to snap up guest musicians who are in town or close by). So please join the email list so we can keep you up to date (send Chris an email at chris@gigcb.com).

Doors open 7.15pm, dancing starts at 7:30pm. There is no bar so please BYO booze.


September 2018

WE’RE BACK from our summer dancing in various French festivals. Hope you all had a good time 🙂

  •  Friday 14th September: The On Bouge Band will be providing their normal dynamic playing. Duo Mistral will be presenting some new dances learnt during the summer, and some older dances reinvigorated, such as the continually rotating BourrĂ©e planière from Gascony (click on the link to find out about it and get the idea in your head 🙂 )
  • NB: Saturday 15th September: our friends London BalFolk have a Grand Bal with Naragonia at Cecil Sharp House. Click on the link for full information. Make a weekend of it with OB and LBF 🙂
  • Friday 19th October (*3rd Friday): We have the lovely Emily but sadly only one of the Simons; or is it the lovely Simon and the one and only Emily? Emily & The Simons are an Anglo-Belgian Balfolk trio, a dynamic collaboration between three outstanding folk musicians: Emily Bowden (fiddle), Simon Dumpleton (accordion) and Simon Laffineur (guitar). Check em’ out: Emily & the Simons on YouTube They perform beautiful original music centred around Emily’s compositions, drawing inspiration from life’s encounters and the energy of the dance-floor. Their style is highly expressive and improvisatory, full of passion, tenderness and playfulness. With a wide repertoire ranging from exquisite, sensual mazurkas to joyful, driving bourrĂ©es, their music transports the imagination, stirs the feet and uplifts the spirit. Support by the OBB and Duo Mistral as usual. Come early; it’ll be a cracking night. And we’ll try and organise the full Anglo-Belgian for the future 🙂
  • Friday 9th November: Deux Sans Frontières are back! Mark Prescott and Mike Gulston will be playing their exquisitely scintillating music much of which is aimed at close couple dancing but also with more up-tempo dances such as bourrĂ©es and Breton dances. Check em’ out: Deux Sans Frontières
  • Friday 14th December: The On Bouge Christmas Party. No planning yet, but it will involve mince pies, Christmas cake and mulled wine.


Friday 15th February (*3rd Friday): We are delighted to have Tondo. This trio brings together Gilles Chabenat (hurdy-gurdy), Fred Pouget (clarinet) and Martin Decombel (guitar, mandola). Their repertoire attempts to parallel paintings by contemporary artists, who often reflect the Old Masters, to prove once again that traditional music is still very much valid in the today’s world. Check ’em out: Tondo: the Official Video


We dance several types of dances from different regions of France:

  • BourrĂ©es come from central France and are danced in a variety of ways. Most people are familiar with the bourrĂ©e droite, where you are in two lines facing your partner and the music is two-time (4/4) or three-time (3/8). Other bourrĂ©es are danced in couples or in groups of four or six people. Montagnards are Auvergne bourrĂ©es danced in cortège while you slowly make your way to the top and then, helter-skelter-like, you bourrĂ©e through the cortège and join it again at the bottom. There are specific styles of bourrĂ©e from Berry, Bourbonnais, Nivernais, Morvan, Auvergne, Corrèze and Gascony, with one or two local styles of bourrĂ©e elsewhere.
  • Schottische, Mazurka, Polka and Valse are popular couple dances danced all over France.
  • Breton dances such as Gavotte des Montagnes, An Dro, Hanter Dro, Dans Plinn and  Suite de LoudĂ©ac are danced in long snaking lines which intermingle and diverge. And we have been working on dances from LĂ©on (north-west Brittany) recently.
  • Gascon dances such as rondeaux and congos. And the Ronde de Quercy from just to the north of Gascony.
  • Dances from BĂ©arn and Pays Basque (in the PyrenĂ©es Atlantique) such as the sauts, e.g. Sept sauts, La Craba, Dus, Marianne. Danced singly in a circle,with springy steps, but still very much a communal dance.

Musicians – develop your repertoire and technique for dance-related music in an informal setting: contact chris@gigcb.com for more info. Many of us meet at The George Inn, Southwark, for a boeuf (= French for music session) on the first Monday each month (the second Monday if the first one is a public holiday).

Primrose Hill Community Centre
29 Hopkinson’s Place (off Fitzroy Rd)
London NW1 8TN

Nearest tube Chalk Farm or Camden Town
Map: http://g.co/maps/ta6nf

Entry: ÂŁ9 (ÂŁ7 concs)

Please BYO booze

For more information, and to join the email list, please email us on chris@gigcb.com and like us (or whatever the current term is!) at www.facebook.com/onbougelondon