Wellington Region Hogmanay 2019

A great welcome to 2020 organised by Johnsonville Club!

20 dancers attended Hogmanay for the very first time!

Despite a bit of a late start on the organisational side, Wellington Region Hogmanay at Crofton Downs Primary School hall came together as a fun and successful event attracting dancers from across the Region.

Johnsonville club members played a big part, with Rod as MC, Kristin as organiser and around 15 volunteers who helped make it such a good night.

Special thanks to Helen Simmers, John Gregory and Pat Reesby for the help and support they gave as previous organisers, and to Loralee Hyde for all her efforts in promoting the event.

Rod worked hard behind the lectern (with some forays onto the floor) to make sure we all had a great night’s dancing. He put a lot of thought into the programme to ensure it was suitable for both newer and more experienced dancers, and it paid off with plenty of chatter and smiling faces. Walking most dances made it an even more relaxed night for everyone, including at least 14 new dancers.

First year dancers Sarah and Jay enjoying The Dancing Bees

Band members Aileen Logie, Iain Matcham and Jason Morris were kind enough to make themselves available for the night, with Aileen missing Summer School to be there.

The band played into the night to bring us music which got us up and dancing even when we thought we were too tired to keep going. Our thanks to them all.

Between seven and eight sets of people attended, including almost a set of spectators. Dancers on the floor peaked at six sets, and there were still three sets dancing when it came time for The Eightsome Reel – a mighty fine effort.

It was fantastic to see nineteen Johnsonville members (as well as past members Anne Lord and Judy and Don Keats) amongst the crowd enjoying this very special night on the Scottish Country Dancing calendar. And it was really exciting to find that twenty of the Region’s dancers (10 with Johnsonville connections) were attending a Hogmanay celebration for the very first time.

Mandy arriving by motorcycle in a sidecar!

Congratulations to first year Johnsonville dancers who bravely attended – Catherine, Jay and Sarah Epps together with Emma Watson, Elizabeth Judge and her (pre-beginner) husband Ross

John Price also came along as a spectator. Mandy Clark made the most memorable entrance, arriving by motorbike in a sidecar.

The Crofton Downs School hall is light and airy, with a lovely feel and a good floor, and it was a perfect venue for Hogmanay.

The hall setup team (thank you all, you are too numerous to list) made sure Johnsonville’s tartan bunting, saltires, tartan rugs and tablecloths created a festive atmosphere. Aileen Homes added that extra touch with her floral creation, and Rod, the band and the dancers did the rest.

Supper with fruit salad (included by popular demand) revived us for the second half. Thanks to Joan Clayton for her work in the kitchen, together with Helen Simmers from Kelburn club and Mandy Clark assisting. Allison Kay was our door-person, and John Markham teamed up with John Gregory (Kelburn and Tawa clubs) to cut a dash as parking wardens in fluoro tops.

As midnight approached, dancing stopped and the singing began, led by Alastair McCarthy (Lower Hutt), John Gregory and John Markham. John G even ventured into a little Australiana, giving us a surprise rendition of Home Among the Gum Trees to acknowledge Rod and Kristin’s Aussie origins and their work organising Hogmanay.

Aline Homes as the Sweeper sweeping out the Old Year (John Homes)

Next it was time for Auld Lang Syne as Aline and John Homes slowly circled the floor with Aline (as Sweeper) sweeping out the Old Year (John).

As Big Ben’s chimes died away, Doug Sinclair filled the hall with pipe music as First Foot Jason Morris entered the hall.

Bringing coal (for warmth), shortbread (for sustenance), and a coin (for prosperity), Jason proposed a toast to the Region’s dancers, joined by Rod and Doug.

Then it was on to home-made shortbread (thanks to Anne Mackenzie, Elizabeth Judge and Jay Epps), a nip of whisky, sherry or orange juice and a chance to meet and greet, and wish all our dancing friends a happy new year. Revived once more, the hardier souls danced the final three dances of the night, before we all set to packing up and heading home.

It was a grand night. If you were there you have memories, if you weren’t you can see what it was all about thanks to photographers Loralee Hyde and John Patterson, and videographer Pat Reesby.


See John Patterson and Kristin Downey’s photos of getting ready for the evening

See Loralee Hyde and John Patterson’s photos of the dance


Click below to see Pat Reesby’s videos of the evening:

The Den O’Mains

Singing the Northern Lights of Aberdeen

Singing Auld Lang Syne as the Sweeper sweeps out the Old Year

Piping in the First Foot

Download the Wellington Region Hogmanay 2019 Programme

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