Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dancing Ledge

Are there many dancing places in the landscape? Obviously there are many places where people have danced in the open air, but what about places that actually have a dance-related name? Dancing Ledge in Dorset is one such place. Situated on the Isle of Purbeck a couple of miles south of Langton Matravers, it is a place created by quarrying. The removal of stone has created a flat surface next to the sea likened to a ballroom dancefloor, hence the name.

Not sure how often people have actually danced there - it is a bit of a climb down the rocks - but in 'Old Swanage: Past and Present' (1910), W.M. Hardy mentions a picnic and dancing on the ledge with music from the Swanage Brass and Reed Band and 'a plentiful repast, consisting of lobster tea, salad and liquid refreshments'.

Derek Jarman was very fond of this place, calling his autobiography after it and filming parts of The Angelic Conversation and his punk movie Jubilee there. At the end of the latter, Queen Elizabeth I and John Dee walk at the Ledge, the queen declaring: 'All my heart rejoiceth at the roar of the surf on the shingles marvellous sweet music it is to my ears - what joy there is in the embrace of water and earth'.


JonR said...

i can't fucking wait for my two weeks in swanage this year

Transpontine said...

A few good places down there, just along the coast from Dancing Ledge there's another rocky bit of coast with caves etc. called Winspit I think (Derek Jarman and Andrew Logan once slept in the cave while making a film). You walk down there from Worth Matravers, which has a fantastic pub called the Square and Compass.