Last Monday at dance I was invited to a seventieth birthday celebration for one of the ladies that I dance with. Her name is Olga and she is an absolute sweetheart; one of the ones I tend to gravitate towards when we have our breaks between tips. Her “party” was to be held at Kennedy Hall in Surrey which, it turns out, is a dance hall almost as old as our own. The difference is that our hall is out in the country. Kennedy Hall was probably out in the country when it was built in 1941 as it is right by the train tracks, but the city has built up around it. For the locals it’s at 88th Street and 120th Avenue. Two incredibly busy streets. It even shares its parking lot with an Arby’s now.
This hall hosts an “Good Time Dance” with a live band every Saturday night and has for YEARS. I don’t know exactly how long but they had articles on the wall about different people who have played there and I know one gentleman said he has been dancing there for over 30 years himself!
Olga’s friend Grace is the pianist for a group called “Grace & the Guys”. (Seen on the right) Olga goes in with Grace regularly so it wasn’t an issue to get her there. We just all showed up to surprise her. And surprise her we did. It was great! Every time she turned around there was a new familiar face. About a dozen people from dance, her two sons and their significant others, her brother flew in from Alberta for the evening, and a bunch of other friends. We had cake for her, some gifts, and sang. It was a blast.
The band was very, very relaxed. They’ve obviously been playing together for forever and one would strum a bar and they’d all jump in to the song. I told my dad that I was going and I mentioned that it was “Country Western Music”. It’s a running bone of contention between us. I call current radio stuff “Country” but he insists on calling it “Country Western” I will conceded that this was “Country Western”. They were all plugged in (including the fiddle) but it was so relaxed. They played everything from Willie Nelson and Anne Murray to “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Down on the Bayou” and some great Polkas. (I say great because they’re fun to dance to…even if I really didn’t do very well LOL)
It reminded me a lot of my grandfather and hearing him play the fiddle and of some of the weddings my prairie cousins have had. Fun times and a great way to spend a Saturday evening (even if all the available men were 50 years my senior ;)) I tell you though, some of those people can MOVE! I mostly just sat back and watched them dance. It was highly entertaining.
At one point they called a square dance for us...the problem was the moves they called were removed from the list like thirty years ago!!! It was pretty bad but we did have fun.