Welcome to Balfolk Oxford

Balfolk is all sorts of modern and traditional dances to the magical folk music of continental Europe – it’s big in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal and we’re really excited to have a growing Balfolk scene here in Oxford too. We're on Folk in Oxford but also have an active Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/balfolkoxford.

More on Balfolk...

Balfolk is folky and graceful and there’s loads of variety. Super soulful mazurkas are danced in couples and can be lovely and melty and slow; the waltz and schottische might be brighter and more lively; the bourrees are danced opposite your partner; and the chappelloise brings the whole room together. The steps are happily simple meaning there’re lots of chances to riff off the basics and be as expressive as you feel. Often a Balfolk event might begin or end with an anter-dro, where all the dancers link arms and move very softly – it’s meditative and almost trance-like. Like lots of folk traditions, the musicians - accordion, fiddle, clarinet, hurdy-gurdy, anything really - are often right in the mix with the dancers. Here is a taste of some softer Balfolk and here's another perspective.

Old traditions and new styles

You might have heard of French and Breton folk dancing where the traditional dances are danced. Balfolk is based on a lot of these but develops them too - the ‘neo-trad’ style is popular in festivals in Europe. At our workshops in Oxford you’ll get the basics in no time and we’ll introduce some of the new styles too.

Social dancing

So you know your English and Scottish folk dances but not sure how Balfolk relates? Think ceilidh but a lot more soulful and expressive – there’s no caller and a more romantic feel sometimes. If you’re familiar with Argentine Tango, there’s some crossover there too. Balfolk has its own equivalent of the informal milongas that are danced in the streets. ‘Clandestine Mazurkas’ happen when musicians and dancers casually get together to play and dance, often around a bandstand.

We’re a small group of enthusiastic dancers at the moment, and we’d love to meet more! If you’re interested to join us (and learn to dance, or play with us) you can find out about our workshops and other chances to dance and play on our Facebook group to find out about more events too.

We look forward to meeting you at a Clandestine Mazurka soon :)