On a balmy Wellington evening, more than 12 sets of dancers including a great contingent from Johnsonville saw off the end of a challenging 2020 by cheering in the New Year at the Wellington Region Hogmanay on 31 December in Lower Hutt.
Thanks to Ann and Andrew Oliver and their team for organising this superb evening which was full of smiles and laughter after a disrupted year of dancing. A constant refrain was one of thankfulness for being able to celebrate Hogmanay together when so many around the world could not due to severe Covid-19 restrictions.
Along with dancers from throughout the Wellington Region, we welcomed RSCDS New Zealand Branch President Linda Glavin, Vice President Debbie Roxburgh with Paul, and Communication, Publicity and Membership Coordinator Sue Lindsay. Others from outside the Region included Sue and Ian Pearson from Whanganui, Doug Mills and Lynda Aitchison from Marlborough and former Wellingtonian Xiaowen Yu, now living in Dunedin.
Thank you to the MCs who gave briefings and oversaw walkthroughs of dances during the evening—Ann, Johnsonville Club member Jeanette Watson, Margaret Cantwell, Diane Bradshaw and Edith Campbell (who shared intriguing tidbits about the dance origins!).
We danced the night away to fine music from the Saltire Scottish Dance Band led by Mary McDonald on the fiddle, with Jason Morris (keyboard, clarinet), Duncan McDonald (drums), Glenice Saunders (fiddle) and Alastair McDonald (sound technician). Joining them were guest musicians Lynne Scott (accordion, octave-below fiddle, keyboard) and Moira Croad (flute, piccolo).
Mary says the band got a buzz out of playing to the full hall and seeing all the smiling faces.
Popular dances included the old favourites De’il Amang the Tailors, Pelorus Jack and the toe-tapping reel Mairi’s Wedding. The more experienced dancers took up the challenge of dancing Culla Bay, Best Set in the Hall (repeated for those keen to dance it a second time) and A Capital Jig.
Before midnight, Damon Collin led a singalong of Scottish songs—this time with the words projected on to a screen rather than the printed copies we’ve used since the last century!
The ceremony for welcoming in the New Year began by sweeping out the old year, with Lee and Michelle Miller taking on the roles of the Old Year and the Sweeper while we sang Auld Lang Syne.
As President of the Wellington Region, Ann announced the arrival of the First Foot—the first person to come across the threshold in the new year, carrying gifts of coal for warmth, salt or money for wealth, shortbread for sustenance and whisky for good cheer.
Led by piper Doug Sinclair, First Foot James Scott walked a circuit around the hall before presenting the gifts to Ann. The First Foot then raised a toast to the RSCDS Wellington Region and we welcomed in the new year of 2021.
After wishing each other Happy New Year, it was time for the dancers to tackle the final three dances—the Eightsome/Thirtytwosome Reel, City of Belfast and The Reel of the 51st Division.
Let’s look forward to year filled with dancing!
3 January 2021