The sound of the alarm pierced the silence and jolted Dahlia awake. She blearily looked at her phone- 06:00 am! It was time for her to wake up and drag herself to work again. It was nice to have short break but now it was once again time to face reality. When you are a kid and desperately want to grow up so you can finally do whatever you want to, noone ever warns you that adulthood is – Boring! Everyday pretty much follows the same pattern, a constant cycle of drudgery that seems to never end. The most exciting thing that happened to Dahlia recently was that her office got colourful new post-its. It was quite a day!

Today was nothing special, she strode into work and looked around her office, now splattered with a few pretty post-its which unfortunately had ridiculously banal messages such as “Meeting at 17:00! Hope to see you all!”. No amount of exclamation points or coloured post-its could bring out any enthusiasm for that message! Dahlia was suddenly filled with the horrifying vision of her life passing her by with her being trapped in this post-it covered box until she died.

“Ms Rivers!” “Ms Rivers!” someone called, shaking her out of her trance, “Yes Annabella?” she said. “Is everything alright? You seemed to have turned rather pale”, queried her timid colleague who even after a whole year of working together refused to call her by her first name. “Yes, yes. Everything’s alright. Thank you!” she replied and hastily walked off to her desk before she got roped into a never-ending conversation about Annabella’s perpetually sick hamster. Its a wonder the rodent wasn’t already dead considering it was on life support for what seemed like a hundred years.

At 18:00 Dahlia finally left work thinking to herself how pointless five o clock meetings were- everyone was itching for it to get over so they could head back home and noone cared what the manager was droning on about. You could almost see what everyone was dreaming about while Thomas, the manager, waxed poetic about new projects and deadlines. David, her perpetually hungry work friend, was already planning his dinner; Mary, a fitness freak, was already stretching to loosen up for her workout. And Dahlia? well Dahlia actually had nothing better to do.

Although she usually watched something on her computer and went to bed around 22:00 on this night, Dahlia was feeling quite restless. There had to be more to life, this can’t be it. Feeling suddenly rather claustrophobic she decided to go out for a walk. It was late September and the weather was still rather pleasant, a hint of a chill and perfumes of the summer still hung in the air. It felt nice to be out and to move around a little.

As she was walking she heard the strains of music coming from the city square. “Strange,” she thought, “there were no flyers about a concert today.” She decided to explore and wandered closer to the music. It wasn’t music she was used to listening to, there was something both antiquated and modern about it at the same time. She recognised it as a waltz, bringing to mind a vivid memory of sitting at her grandparents’ house sipping hot chocolate and watching as they danced the waltz around the kitchen; as she listened closely it was not like any waltz she had ever heard before.

Moving even closer she saw that there were quite a few people dancing, something about them made it seemed like this was not a chance incident. It looked like a sort of party, a strange one because it had a very strange mix of people, and they all looked like they were having so much fun. Without even realising it she found that she had moved even closer, the waltz came to an end and another song started. “Would you like to do the chapelloise?”, asked a sweet looking guy with a joyful look in his eye that she found she rather envied, “I would love to!” she answered, “But I don’t know how!” “Don’t you worry, it is really easy! It is mostly just walking with a few twirls! Look: one, two, three, four!  turn and then backwards! one, two, three, four…” That is all the convincing it took and in about eight steps and twirl she realised that this was what she needed to bring colour into her life again.

At 02:00 the night came to an end, and even though she knew she had to wake up in four hours and even though she was exhausted from having danced all night she couldn’t have been happier. And little did she know that this unlikely introduction into balfolk was just the beginning of her adventures in balfolk!