Stiff upper lips have been opening with smiles and laughter at ‘‘English country dancing’’ — a weekly community dance society held on Thursday evenings at the Pipe Band Hall in Glasgow St, Balclutha.

About 20 people put their best foot forward at each of the first two instalments of the Regency dance instruction, and five more evenings remain including tonight.

Clinton-based instructor Jean Anderson said she was grateful to the Clutha District Council and Creative Communities for funding to make the programme possible — and free for everyone.

‘‘We [her family] first tried Regency dance at Toitu [in] Dunedin in 2016. We really enjoyed it and introduced it through the home-schooling network,’’ she said.

The amiable group dances would look familiar to any fan of Jane Austen period dramas and were refined from ancient village folk dance to become the central activity of early 1800s social occasions.

‘‘Many of the dances are easy to learn and join in with . . . It brought communities together to celebrate and have polite, dignified fun,’’ Mrs Anderson said

‘‘Community balls and dances were very popular and common in New Zealand just a couple of generations ago and after the doom and gloom of the last couple of years it seems like people are looking for more cheerful social activities to connect locally.’’

Heart-rates rose with high spirits as dancers partnered up to the music and rhythm and felt themselves and each other mastering their co-ordination as a team.

Balclutha English Country Dancing begins at 7pm, has a social media page and hopes to continue and expand as popularity grows.