The Welsh have danced a century through this city,
terrace house congas, dizzy wartime swing,
and dairy business hokey cokey.
They tripped nimbly from Baker Street, to Villiers Street,
before treading an abiding dance- floor
in Grays Inn Road.
And in the era of the trilby and the cloche hat,
Mamgu was on the door at Young Wales,
when she tore Tadcu’s ticket, then two-stepped a lifetime with him.
In the tyrannous time of gas-mask and blitz,
soldiers got a bed here,
but the dances liberated them too.
Ten years on, in the gap between Brylcreem and bee-hive,
the women would muster on the right,
their nails dragon-red,
and the men formed up on the left –
then moved as a wave across the floor,
sweeping those who smiled at their shoes, into the vortex of dance.
The tulle and the taffeta whirled,
my mam and dad in their midst,
till the floor yawned again, and the club fell asleep.
My own turn came then,
between flares, and two-tone ties,
and I learnt that the dance was not just for feet;
there were different tongues to master – ’steddfodau;
choirs; drama; “’as ’e wedi talu for the bara?”
– all mixed up in our mouths.
And so on, to my children, and my children’s children;
new generations of laughter,
and shared fellowship from different casks.
From foxtrot to twist and twerk, the dance goes on,
a kaleidoscope of new patterns blending;
and the old Welsh colours wind through without ending.
Ifor ap Glyn
Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Poet of Wales
(to celebrate the centenary of the London Welsh Association, 21.10.20)