While the phrase, “with a bang” usually refers to a grand party or exuberant celebration, at the Botha Community Hall it was a literal expression.
As the bell tolled midnight on Saturday, Dec. 31 and 2016 crested over into Jan. 1, 2017, about 75 people at the hall popped their New Year’s balloon, a tradition that has gone on for more than a decade.
The monthly Old Tyme Dance Club hosts the family-friendly, all-ages dance on the final day of the year, breaking away from the regularly scheduled final Sunday of the month dance to take on the special, and final, day of the year.
Doug Haustein, the club’s president, noted that this year brought in a larger than usual number of youth to the dance, something that was delightful and gratifying to witness.
“This dance had the most children we’ve had at once at a dance,” he said. “We had a four- and five-year-old pair dancing, some teens, and some younger adults as well.”
While the dances are usually catered by attendees in the country tradition of a potluck meal, on New Year’s eve the meal is catered.
“Sarah’s Catering provided the food,” Haustein said, and guests enjoyed heaping plates of roast pork, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and salads. For dessert, the caterer brought out parfaits and tarts.
On stage, the Country Gems provided a range of old-fashioned, traditional country tunes that have become the signature of not just the dances in general, but of the New Year’s celebration itself.
The Gems have played the New Year’s dance now for three years, becoming a favourite with a great many of the dancers.
“We’re not set in stone and we might change it up, but we like them,” Haustein explained.
Chad Detlor and Amanda Jones attended the dance. Jones brought her son, five-year-old Zack, with her. Zack is Brazilian, and this is his first winter in Canada.
“We had his birthday party recently, and the theme was snow,” Jones said, as Zack took Maddyson Morrin, 4, out onto the floor to dance again. “He just loves it. And he loves to dance. I’m really glad we came.”
Jones spent a couple of dances on the dance floor with her son in her arms, the animated little boy enjoying every moment.
While many of the people at the dance were regulars to the Old Tyme dances, some coming from communities as far as Camrose and Red Deer, others were local members of the community simply coming together to enjoy dance and New Year’s eve.
“We have some people here who can barely walk,” Haustein said. “They can barely lift their feet and they shuffle, but they want to dance, so they come and dance.”