Hastings District Council is hoping to revive precious memories of the town’s Municipal Building Assembly Hall with the launch of a nationwide search to find people who once cut a rug on the historic building’s dance floor.
After being closed for eight years due to earthquake strengthening works, the Municipal Building at Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre is finally ready to welcome people back and Council is looking for anyone who danced in the hall between 1950 and 2014.
To mark the occasion of the building’s re-opening, dancers from days gone by are being asked to share their memories of the Assembly Hall and its original sprung dance floor to get the chance to kick up their heels again for the ‘First Dance’ at a special event on 6 August.
Wedding dances, school balls, Rock ‘n’ Roll, ballet recitals, 21st birthdays – all kinds of occasions have been held in the hall over the years.
“It’s part of what makes the place so special to the Hastings community,” says Toitoi Kaiwhakahaere Manager, Megan Peacock-Coyle.
“We know our Hastings community is extremely passionate about the Muni; back in 2014 when we asked whether people wanted to save it, we received over 3000 submissions supporting its strengthening and restoration.
“We are really looking forward to reopening the building for the general public and thought there would be no better way to mark the occasion than by teasing out people’s special memories and moments they’ve had there over the years.”
Ms Peacock-Coyle says since the call for dance hall memories went out, locals have begun sharing their memories of the iconic venue.
“We’ve had some really lovely entries and memories shared with us.”
“We’ve heard from a local couple who got engaged at the Assembly Hall 47 years ago, a lady who had her 21st birthday there 68 years ago and plenty of people who recall going to dances on a Friday night through the 60’s and 70’s. We even have someone who remembers going to see Selwyn Toogood host an episode of It’s in the Bag there.
“It’s great how it’s bringing back memories and this is all part of the story of this special place.”
People can share their memories at https://www.toitoivenues.co.nz/whats-
on/item/163/municipal-building-last-dance-first-dance. The winners will join the ‘First danc’ to classic tunes being played by the Hawke’s Bay Jazz Club Big Band.
On opening night, they can take their own steps or follow along with dance instructor Nerida Cortese.
Dancing professionally for more than 30 years, Nerida is best known to Kiwis for her TV appearances on Dancing with the Stars, Battle of the Ballroom and So You Think You Can Dance.
For more details go to toitoivenues.co.nz.