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

NEWS FLASH: Saturday 2nd November: On Bouge Extra – the Notre Dame Appeal. See below for full details

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

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.


January 2019

Blimey! Zut alors! Cordon bleu! It’s 2019 ALREADY

But we’ve got some good dancing for you, and no doubt our friends London Balfolk will be adding to the possibilities 🙂

  •  Friday 11th January: Bonne Année. Bloevezhed Mat. Erós an nau.  Duo Mistral and the On Bouge Band and friends will be strutting their stuff. We’re aiming to do some of the Auvergne bourrées (Lo Crousado, La Marianne, La Montagnarde), the Bourrée des Monedieres and some Breton dances (Suite Plinn, Suite de Loudia) and qui sait quoi d’autre 🙂 BRING BOOZE – NO BAR
  • Friday 8th February: On Bouge dance workshop, for anyone/everyone who wants to spend more time getting down to the nitty gritty of these dances. With only two hours normally, there simply ain’t the time. But our main event this month is: TONDO (see next entry)
  • Friday 15th February (*3rd Friday) ON BOUGE EXTRA: TONDO                           NB: VENUE: Heath Street Baptist Hall,84 Heath St, London NW3 1DN                TONDO features top hurdy gurdy player Gilles Chabenat together with superb musicians 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  and Tondo (sleek and sexy!)
  • Friday 8th March: Les Autres, featuring old friends Dave Bawden (hurdy gurdy), Kirsten Baron (accordion, bagpipes) and Graham Shelver (fiddles) playing for dances from Centre France and Bretagne. Please Bring Your Own Booze 🙂 Also featuring the On Bouge Band and Duo Mistral. Venez Nombreux
  • Friday 12th April: Marcus Scott, wonderfully talented young melodeon player. You will have seen him playing in Venn, but this time we managed to get him by himself. His fast ones are slick and dynamic; his slow ones scintillating and sexy. See the Facebook On BOuge event page for a pointer to some of his videos. Venn-ez nombreux 🙂
  • Friday 10th May: Pre-Fete Breton, with Olivier Boennec and Trio ZinZon. Olivier is the former President and dance teacher at Le Breizho, the London Breton organisation. Trio ZinZon website Region Bretagne have been organising a Fete Breton during the middle of May for the last two or three years so we have decided to dedicate this evening to Breton dance a week in advance. Yer Mat 🙂 (Breton for Wors Hael, or Cheers)
  • Friday 14th June: Pimms No. 1 Bal Folk, with strawberries, a foretaste of the summer holidays. This is the  last meeting of On Bouge before the summer holidays, so make sure you turn up to practice all those dance moves before heading over the Channel to French festivals 🙂 Chris, Caroline and Graham will be showing off their Champeval violins following our recent visit to Jean-Pierre Champeval in Liege (we’re just back!). The three Champevarius violins will be playing traditional music from Limousin et d’ailleurs. Also featuring the other members of the On Bouge Band, Sam, Dave and Peter on hurdy gurdies, and John on fiddle.
  • July and August: SUMMER HOLIDAYS
  • Friday 13th September: the DanseHerts Band. We are very pleased to welcome back our friends from DanseHerts to open the first of the 2019/20 series of On Bouge.
  •  Friday 11th October: the On Bouge Band and Duo Mistral. We’re very lucky to have cornered the market in hurdy gurdies in London and these guys are very happy to play for us: Ray, Sam, Peter and David, together with old friend Johnny Offord on fiddle and Chris Shaw (me!) on fiddle and melodion. Duo Mistral is Chris & Caroline Shaw, who scour the length and breadth of France for dances and tunes, but mostly specialising in Béarn and Gascogne, Limousin and Auvergne, and Bretagne.
  •  Saturday 2nd November: On Bouge Extra – the Notre Dame Appeal. Caroline and I were devastated when we saw Notre Dame ablaze. We fell in love with this historic building, one of the earliest Gothic cathedrals, during our honeymoon in 2005. We felt we had to do something and this is it. ALL PROFITS GO TO THE NOTRE DAME APPEAL.
  • Laurent Balabau, originally from Béarn and an early member of On Bouge, and his wife, Christiane, are teaching some dances such as Branle de la Vallée d’Ossau, Branle du Haut Agenais and Rondeau de Samatan, Bourrée Planiere, Courante, Congo de Sos, Charmantina (saut), amongst others. Trio Zinzon are playing for both workshop and bal. The evening balfolk aims for nonstop dancing, with the On Bouge Band taking over from Trio ZinZon and leading straight on to our good friends Mike and Mark, Deux Sans Frontieres. Please see Facebook On Bouge London for full details. It’s all at the Primrose Hill Community Centre (details below). Timings:
  •  3pm to 5.30pm Dance workshop
  •  5.30pm to 7pm Shared supper – please bring food to share and booze; tea and coffee will be available.
  •  7pm to 10pm Bal Folk, with Trio ZinZon and Laurent Balabau, the On Bouge Band and Deux Sans Frontieres.
  • Prices are £15 for Workshop and Bal, £5 for workshop only and £12 for bal only.
  • ps We raised £250 for the Notre Dame Appeal, AND we had a smashing day 🙂 Thanks to everyone who supported us, and we’ll be doing more On Bouge Extras like this in the future.
  •  Friday 11th November The regular On Bouge night with the On Bouge Band and friends. We’ll be going over some of the dances Laurent & Christiane taught us last Saturday.
  •  Friday 13th December It’s the Christmas On Bouge dance meeting, featuring Quatre Quarts, from Patcham, the On Bouge Band and TrioVus, and indeed the On Bouge “moist*” Christmas Cake. Quatre Quarts features old friends Mel and Barbara Stevens, Teresa Newnham & Eamonn Canning, all regulars at DansezFrançais. They have an exciting set list across the whole range of French traditional dance, with some tunes originally researched by Mel in the 1980s! Great rhythms, lovely harmonies, fab dances! TrioVus? Work it out! Check it out on Facebook!
    • *moist = Armagnac and Calvados! Yummy, yummy 🙂


January 2020

  • Friday 10 January
  • Friday 14 February
  • Friday 13 March
  • Saturday 14 March We have Clica Drona from Toulouse. Workshop day and Special Evening Event. Please contact chris@gigcb.com for full information:
    • Dance workshop with Dani Padpé
    • Boha workshop, with Adrien Villeneuve
    • Music workshop, with Aina Tulier


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

  • Bourrées come from central France and are danced in a variety of ways. Most people are familiar with the bourrée droite, where you are in two lines facing your partner and the music is two-time (4/4) or three-time (3/8). Other bourrées are danced in couples or in groups of four or six people. Montagnards are Auvergne bourrées danced in cortège while you slowly make your way to the top and then, helter-skelter-like, you bourrée through the cortège and join it again at the bottom. There are specific styles of bourrée from Berry, Bourbonnais, Nivernais, Morvan, Auvergne, Corrèze and Gascony, with one or two local styles of bourrée 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 Loudéac are danced in long snaking lines which intermingle and diverge. And we have been working on dances from Léon (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 Béarn and Pays Basque (in the Pyrenées 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.
  • We have now added the Branles from the Vallée d’Ossau, Béarn.

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: £10 (£8 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