Loralee Hyde: Memories of New Dancers’ Celebrations

Johnsonville dancers at these special events from 2013

Members of Johnsonville Club make the most of opportunities to participate in Wellington Region events, joining other dancers at weekend schools, balls, Hogmanays, New Dancers’ Celebrations, demonstrations and classes.

The New Dancers’ Celebration is a special event for those who have started dancing in the past two years, with more experienced dancers coming along as support.

My perusal of the Region’s publication Harbour City Happenings through the early 2000s didn’t result in finding much about New Dancers’ Celebrations in those years, other than perhaps a paragraph in the President’s Column about the dance coming up or occasionally a programme.

Nowadays, Harbour City Happenings is a wonderful source of historical information with contributions from dancers around the Region about events and those who organised them, developed and MC’d the programmes, and provided the music for us to dance to.

Armed with a better camera from 2013, I have a selection of photos from New Dancers’ Celebrations I’ve attended since then. At other times, various Johnsonville dancers have added their photos to the collection.

As part of the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration, the club developed a website in 2016. Since then we have developed a fine historical record of many Region events, both through articles and photos contributed by members.

Taken together, the available articles in Harbour City Happenings and on our website, and our photographic records provide a valuable snapshot of the fun and friendship we’ve had at New Dancers’ Celebrations.

Click on the year below to find out about the New Dancers’ Celebration for that year.



Johnsonville Club hosted the New Dancers’ Celebration on 19 October 2013 at the Newlands Centennial Hall.

In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 23 October 2013, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote:

“What a wonderful time we had at the New Dancers’ Celebration, with lots of dancers (new and ‘old’) from other clubs. Twelve sets!

We had a wonderful band for the night – Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie. Lynne says: ‘I think a lot of people enjoy the sound of the band with the double bass in it. And Richard and Jean are such good musicians! I really enjoy playing with them. Also, I do work quite hard to select and arrange music that suits the shape and formations of the dance, and perhaps that helps underpin the playing. It’s certainly fun!’”

Rod Downey as MC with the band of Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie

Johnsonville Club bunting was used for the first time at this celebration. Some of our new dancers in 2013 came up with the great idea of the club making its own bunting for when we hold a special dance. They suggested collecting tartan and plain fabric, and then having a ‘bunting bee’ so we’d have bunting ready for this New Dancers Celebration.

The bunting along the walls at the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration. Debbie, Lee and Shelley who helped at the bunting bee, are dancing in the top set

Rod devised the strathspey The Bunting Bee in 2014 as a tribute to those who organised the bunting bee in 2013. See more photos of the making of the club’s bunting, its use at various venues and the instructions for the dance

The floor was filled with dancers including former Region President Bernice Kelly at the right


Organised by Upper Hutt Club on 11 October 2014 at the Jubilee Centre at Chilton St James School in Lower Hutt, with music from Roaring Jelly – Lynne Scott on the fiddle, Jean Malcolm on the keyboard and Richard Hardie on the double bass.

In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 13 October, President Kristin Downey said:

“With approximately 13 sets on the floor, a great night was had by all.

Rod was really impressed with how well all our new dancers did on the night, and says they should be very proud of themselves. As new dancers, they stood out on the floor with their independence, resilience and level of accomplishment.

The great turnout of 28 Johnsonville dancers made up around a quarter of the sets who enjoyed a splendid night of dancing. Despite some understandable nervousness on the part of our eight newest dancers who were there, everyone was up dancing and mixing and having fun. All that hard work on club nights, and studying videos and crib sheets at home definitely paid off! And our 11 experienced dancers supported our new people wonderfully well.

Good news from some of last year’s nine new dancers who attended for their second year, is that they felt much more confident this time around. Instead of constantly worrying about making mistakes they could relax and enjoy the dances they knew well. It’s onwards and upwards from here. All in all, well done team!”

Johnsonville dancers dotted throughout the sets on the dance floor include Loralee at the front of the image Photo: Harbour City Happenings Vol 17 No. 3 2014
Deborah, Rowena, Maureen and Peter. Photo: supplied by Rowena
Sarah, Judy and Rowena. Photo: supplied by Rowena

See more about this celebration from Upper Hutt Club in Harbour City Happenings Volume 17 No. 3 December 2014


Hosted by Linden Club on 17 October 2015 at the Plimmerton School Hall with music from Peter Elmes, Don McKay and Terry Bradshaw.

In Harbour City Happenings, Volume 18 No. 3 December 2015, Region President Philippa Pointon said:

“Thank you to the Linden Club who did a great job of organising the New Dancers’ Celebration. It was a huge success and very well attended. The Plimmerton School Hall was a great venue—both from a dancing perspective and as a central location for people travelling from Waikanae, the Hutt Valley and Carterton.”

In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 19 October 2015, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote: “A good number (at least 17) from the Johnsonville club attended the New Dancers’ Celebration in Plimmerton.”
Don McKay, Peter Elmes and Terry Bradshaw
Dancing ‘Reel On

See more photos of the 2015 New Dancers’ Celebration


With a yellow and black ‘bee’ theme, this event was hosted by Lower Hutt Club on 15 October 2016 at Knox-St Columba Church Hall, Mc’d by Damon Collin, with music from Roaring Jelly – Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie.

In Harbour City Happenings, Volume 19 No. 3 December 2016, Johnsonville President Kristin Downey said:

“The New Dancers’ Celebration was a really great night. Fourteen of our more experienced dancers turned out in support of our newer dancers. Only four could be there on the night but they did themselves proud – congratulations to Jacqi, Jen, Liz, and Tao.”

Johnsonville dancers in front of the bee-themed stage at the 2016 New Dancers’ Celebration
Johnsonville dancers Maureen, Rod, Deborah, Kristin, Prisilla and Tao in view dancing ‘Lonely Sunday’

Read more about this event from Diane Bradshaw in Harbour City Happenings, Volume 19 No. 3 December 2016

See more photos of the 2016 New Dancers’ Celebration (the first year we archived photos of the New Dancers’ Celebration on the Johnsonville website).

2017 onwards…

From 2017, we have a full history of New Dancers’ Celebrations through articles and photos on our website. Click the links below to see more about these fun-filled evenings and photos.


Hosted by Ngaio Club at Knox-St Columba Church Hall in Lower Hutt, Mc’d by Melva Waite, with music from Aileen Logie, Don McKay, Terry Bradshaw and Hilary Ferral. See more about the 2017 New Dancers’ Celebration

Johnsonville dancers at the 2017 New Dancers’ Celebration See more photos


Hosted by Island Bay (now Capital City) and Kelburn at Knox-St Columba Church Hall in Lower Hutt, Mc’d by Jeanette Watson and Chris Totton, with music from Roaring Jelly – Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Richard Hardie. Read more about the 2018 New Dancers’ Celebration

Johnsonville dancers Maureen, Keryn and Deborah in view dancing at the 2018 New Dancers’ Celebration. Photo: John Patterson See more photos


Hosted by Tawa Club at at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua, Mc’d by Maureen Robson, with music from Aileen Logie, Don McKay, Hilary Ferral and Terry Bradshaw. Find out more about 2019 New Dancers’ Celebration

Maureen with the band – Terry Bradshaw, Don McKay, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral – at the 2019 New Dancers’ Celebration. Photo: John Patterson See more photos


Hosted by Waikanae Club with a blue butterfly theme at the Paraparaumu Memorial Hall, Mc’d by Romaine Butterfield, with music from Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris. See more about the 2020 New Dancers’ Celebration

Dancing ‘Fair Enough’ at the 2020 New Dancers’ Celebration: Elizabeth Judge and Rod in the top set at the left, Sandy in the set behind; Mary (facing away), Lizzie and Charles in the top set in the middle, Bruce in the set behind; Maggie in the second set at the right. See more photos

Roll on more dancing, fun and friendship at future New Dancers’ Celebrations!

Loralee Hyde

Loralee Hyde
24 September 2021

Photos by Loralee Hyde, except where stated

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