Ngaio Club: Celebrating 50 years of dancing

The first big event on the Wellington Region 2021 dancing calendar, Ngaio Scottish Country Dance Club’s dinner and dance celebration of 50 years of dancing on 8 May, was a resounding success!

Sets filled the floor at the Ngaio Town Hall to celebrate Ngaio’s 50th, including Elena from Johnsonville at the left enjoying Scott Meikle

Ngaio is proud to have achieved the golden milestone of dancing for 50 years since the club was formed in 1971. To acknowledge the support of those who were involved with the club over the years, the evening started off with a celebratory dinner at the Ngaio Scout Hall for current and past members. What a wonderful occasion to catch-up with old friends!

As guests arrived at the hall decorated throughout with gold, they were greeted by Ngaio President Andrea Lynch and offered drinks by bartender Pat Waite, dressed for the part.

The excited laughter and chatter increased as more guests arrived.

A number of Past Presidents of Ngaio were welcomed to the gathering including Nicky Sinclair, Margaret Pitt, Shirley Kalogeropoulos, John Markham, Helen Rowe and Dame Margaret Sparrow.

A number of Johnsonville Club members were at the dinner as they also belong to Ngaio Club – Ngaio Secretary Moira Scott, Elizabeth Ngan, Moira Broughton, John Markham, Wendy Donald, and Fiona and Bruce Jones. Proof of one of the advantages of dancing at a second club!

From the left, Johnsonville members Fiona, Wendy and Elizabeth joined other Ngaio current and past members at the celebratory dinner

Former members of Johnsonville, Shirley, Pat Reesby and Joan Clayton also enjoyed the festivities.

A photographic history of the club was on display, drawing in guests who pored over the albums, exclaiming in delight at memories of past social occasions and dances.

Guests were invited to enjoy a wonderful buffet dinner of beef, salmon, chicken and salads prepared by a Save the Children local group as a fundraiser, followed by a selection of delicious desserts. All aimed to fortify those going on for an evening of dancing at the club’s annual dance in Ngaio Town Hall.

A further contingent of Johnsonville dancers joined others flocking in from around the region to the dance.

Jason, Aileen and Hilary played toe-tapping music throughout the evening, getting dancers on to the floor

To lively music from Jason Morris, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral, 10 sets of dancers filled the floor for the first dance Salute to Summer, devised by Marie Malcolm, founder and long-time tutor of Ngaio Club.1

Johnsonville’s Robert Vale with Brenda enjoying Salute to Summer by Marie Malcolm

As the evening progressed, MC Melva Waite gave us snippets of the club’s history since Marie formed the club 50 years ago in 1971 and explained the reasons for some of the dances being on the evening’s programme.

Marie supported and mentored Maureen Robson and Philippa Pointon as they went through the process of becoming certificated teachers. The second dance on the programme, New Year Jig, was devised by Maureen. Unfortunately, Philippa was unable to attend the 50th celebration.

From 1983 to 1998, Gary Morris assisted Marie with teaching at Ngaio. His dance, The Reverend John Macfarlane, was one of the reels featured in the first half of the programme.

Dancing The Reverend John Macfarlane by Gary Morris – Johnsonville dancers in view include Charles, Tomoko, Prisilla, Maureen, Fiona and Désirée

Three of Marie’s favourite dances also proved popular with dancers on the night; The Minister on the Loch, The De’il Amang the Tailors and Mairi’s Wedding.

Gary Morris and Dame Margaret Sparrow cutting the 50 years celebratory cake

One highlight of the evening was Doug Sinclair piping in a celebratory cake carried by Margaret Pitt who has danced at Ngaio for 38 consecutive years. She also made the cake!

Gary Morris and Dame Margaret Sparrow (both Life Members of Ngaio Club) proceeded to cut the cake to acclaim.  

Following an abundant supper, Melva described how a 3-couple strathspey was devised for the club’s 30th anniversary, then a 4-couple strathspey for the 40th.

To mark 50 years of dancing, Melva devised a 5-couple strathspey called Ngaio Gold.2

For this special occasion, accordionist Aileen Logie composed a tune, also called Ngaio Gold, for the dance. This was played as the first of the four tunes in the set.3

Three 5-couple sets took to the floor to dance the world premiere of Ngaio Gold. A fitting way to commemorate the club’s 50th anniversary.

Johnsonville members dancing the world premiere of Ngaio Gold included (in view) Elena, Tomoko, Jeanette, Maureen, Prisilla and Moira

Thanks so much to Andrea, Melva, Moira and their team for organising such a superb dinner and dance to celebrate 50 years of dancing. A night to remember with many new memories of fun and friendship made!

Click here to see more of Loralee’s photos

Watch Pat Reesby’s videos:
The De’il Amang the Tailors
Ngaio Gold

Loralee Hyde

Loralee Hyde
Ngaio member 1990-1992
12 May 2021

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  1. See a tribute to Marie from Dame Margaret Sparrow, Harbour City Happenings, Volume 14 No. 1, May 2011[]
  2. Download the instructions for Ngaio Gold[]
  3. Watch Pat Reesby’s video of the dance to hear Aileen’s tune[]