A fine celebration with dining and dancing
A merry band of Johnsonville dancers in their finery joined the throng at Lower Hutt Town Hall on Saturday 7 August, looking forward to a fabulous evening of dinner and dancing at the Dance Scottish Wellington 60th Anniversary Ball.
The night commemorated 60 years of the Wellington District Branch of the New Zealand Scottish Country Dance Society, which had its inaugural meeting on 21 November 1961.
Full of cheer, we were welcomed at the door with a complimentary glass of bubbly or orange juice and were provided with a name badge (each produced by Edith Campbell with elegant calligraphy) and a dance card (designed by Loralee) to note our partners for the evening and provide a memory of the event.
Prior to dinner, we had the chance to mingle and catch up with 120 other dancers from around the Region and further afield from the Waikato and Napier in the north to Lawrence and Dunedin in the south. We stepped into the beautifully lit Town Hall and took our places at circular tables (featuring special 60th Anniversary centrepieces, also produced by Edith), in anticipation of the celebratory festivities.
Above the stage, a large screen projected photos of Region dancers and events from the past 60 years. Thanks to Philippa Pointon for producing the slideshow, the photographers who provided their special memories (Loralee, Elizabeth Ferguson, Maureen Robson) and the team who sourced/scanned/edited images from the NZ Dancer (Kristin Downey, john Homes, Peter Warren).
In the foyer, videos of dancers in demonstrations and other events in the Region drew viewers during breaks between the dances and at supper time. There are plans to place both the photo slideshow and links to the videos on the Region website.
A brace of unicorns on the stage invoked some astonishment! How are unicorns connected to Scottish Country Dancing? The unicorn is Scotland’s national animal and represents Scotland in the British Coat of Arms. So the unicorns at the 60th Anniversary provided a link to our dancing heritage.
After a lovely buffet dinner, followed by speeches of welcome from Region President Ann Oliver and Branch President Linda Glavin, we honoured and remembered the contribution of Region presidents and committee members, tutors, musicians and dance devisors who have willingly given their time, energy and talents to Scottish Country Dancing over the decades.
Five Region Past Presidents present at the Anniversary Ball—Philippa Pointon, Roy South, Elaine Laidlaw, Chris Kelly and Melva Waite—joined current President Ann Oliver to cut the 60th Anniversary cake.
Twenty-five past and present Region Committee members then joined Ann, including current Johnsonville members Rod Downey, Jeanette Watson, Désirée Patterson, John Markham and Amy Martin.
We then showed our heartfelt appreciation to nineteen past and present tutors in the Region including current Johnsonville tutors Rod Downey and Jeanette Watson, for their commitment to keeping Scottish Country Dancing alive through clubs, classes, demonstrations and region events.
Thoughts quickly turned to dancing, starting off with a Grand March led by Piper Nicole Trewavas and directed by Edith.
Dancers then took to the floor for the first dance New Year Jig to fabulous music from Wild Heather. Click on the gallery below to see Johnsonville dancers in action throughout the evening.
Considerable work is needed to make sure a large event like this a success. Thanks so much to Region President Ann Oliver and the Region Committee for organising the evening, MC Elaine Laidlaw, who stepped in for Damon Collin (caught in the current Covid lockdown in New South Wales), and Wild Heather for their wonderful music which kept the floor full of dancers all night long—with Mary McDonald and Ann Goodbehere on fiddles, Sharlene Penman on keyboard, Lynne Scott on octave fiddle and James Scott providing technical expertise.
The 60th Anniversary was a fine night of dining and dancing, full of fun and friendship! We can now look forward to more great Wellington Region events in the coming decade.
See all Loralee Hyde’s photos of this fabulous evening (and download if you wish)
11 August 2021