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

Covid-19: Following the coronavirus outbreak we have not been able to go ahead at Heath Street Baptist Church, but using Zoom conferencing software we have started some On Bouge Online meetings. They’re not the same, sadly, but using this technology at least allows us to virtually get together and dance safe at home with friends online. Duo Mistral (Chris & Caroline) are always available. And we’re now extending the line-up to have guest musicians.

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.


Primrose Hill Community Centre

  • Friday 10 January It’s the On Bouge Band, Trio Vuz, Duo Mistral playing 2x bourrées, valse, scottisches, mazurkas, polkas, rondeaux, danses bretons, sauts, chapeloise, cercle circassien . . .
  • Friday 14 February It’s great to have old friends Ravi Sawney and Trevor Upham from the Brighton area playing as Deuxhom, supported as ever by the OBB, DM and Trio Vuz
  • Friday 13 March It’s fiddling fever time with Five Go Fiddling Old fiddling friends Chris & Caroline, Johnny Offord, Graham Shelver, Ravi Sawney and Mark Prescott (oops! that’s one over the five, but better than one over the eight!)

Heath Street Baptist Church Hall

  • Saturday 14 March ON BOUGE EXTRA We have Clica Dròna from Toulouse. Workshop day and Special Evening Event (see below). Please contact chris@gigcb.com to book a workshop and for full information.

2.30pm to 6pm (£10 per person):

    • Dance workshop with Dani Padpé
    • Boha workshop, with Adrien Villeneuve
    • Music workshop, with Aina Tulier

6pm to 7.30pm: Shared supper

7.30pm to 11pm: Caroline’s 50th Birthday Party (invitation only OR workshop participant) with Clica Dròna, GIG CB! (English Ceilidh) and the On Bouge Band

This was such a lovely “official” birthday weekend for Caroline, from the Famous Five Fiddlers at On Bouge through the Clica Dròna workshops and bal, with GIG CB! and On Bouge Band and friends, and also Clica Dròna and three of the Famous Five featuring at Les Batons before the drawbridge went up. Thank you to every one of you who helped to make it such a good weekend.

On Bouge Online ZoomBal

You can access these at the same address each month, but PLEASE do not try and join before 19.45 on the scheduled day:

Meeting ID: 629 339 1403
Password: OnBouge

  • Friday 17 April (third Friday): On-Line Bouge, with Duo Mistral, our first virtual French Balfolk evening.
  • Friday 8 May: On Bouge Online May Balfolk, once again with Duo Mistral, supported by the amazing Zoom conferencing software, but with other guest musicians.
  • Monday 25 May: On Bouge Extra, now the 4th Monday each month
  • Friday 12 June: On Bouge Online Zoombal
  • Monday 22 June: On Bouge Extra Online Zoombal

July/August we’re in France: Are we? 🙂 🙂 🙂 Fingers crossed 😦 Oh no we’re not 😦 😦 😦

  • Friday 10 July: On Bouge Online Zoombal, featuring Dirk & Gabby Anteunis (diatonic + flute), Fayence, Charles Anteunis (diatonic), Paris, Kevin Hughes (cornemuses), California, Leslie Barr (fiddle), Washington, Annette Collins (piano), Northern Ireland, and several of our regular On Bouge musicians. And yours truly, Duo Mistral, of Freezy Water. And it’s still BYO Booze!
  • Monday 27 July: On Bouge Extra Online Zoombal (Not Yet Confirmed – we might be able to go to France – fingers crossed, toes crossed, we’re desperately short of Armagnac – the proper sort! But even if we do, we can still run a ZoomBal! And why wouldn’t we?

August??? Qui sais?

  • Friday 11 September
  • Friday 16 October (third Friday) 
  • Friday 13 November
  • Friday 11 December


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).

Up to and including Friday 13 March 2020

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

Nearest tube Chalk Farm or Camden Town
Map: Primrose Hill Community Centre

From Saturday 14 March 2020

84 Heath Street Baptist Church Hall
London NW3 1DN

Nearest tube Hampstead
Map Heath Street Baptist Church

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