‘Good food, good music, reasonable company, that was the annual work dinner dance’

Dec 12, 2021
Remember celebrating the end of the year at the work Christmas dinner dance? Julie does... Source: Getty Images

While we were younger, teaching or working, it was an annual event. Right on Christmas, after a full year of teaching, we were compelled to socialise! Our annual dinner dance, to share a meal and bevvies with the women we worked with, by day. Even if we did not always get on, we had to plaster smiles on our faces, and celebrate.

The hardest part, trivial really, was choosing a frock from a limited range of non-boutiques, for swinging chalkies and assorted nuns. Horrors, if your frocks were identical.

At the appointed hour on a Friday night, we would gather a large venue, where tables had been booked. The meals were standard, except for the year we went to an Italian venue, which was great. Volare! The wine flowed, we were pretending one of the lassies was not getting the nuns plastered. But those nuns held their own. I did not like to comment cattily that their convent boasted an excellent cellar. In fact, way back there in the 1970s, anyone who went travelling brought home wine for the nuns. Were we even there?

After the dinner, on with the dancing. A live band would hit the music. It was all very retro of our nostalgia even then, all the rock ‘n’ roll era, or early Beatles’ songs. We could all sing to the lyrics, while dancing up a storm, laughing and bumping into each other. Slightly tipsy dancing.

As the evening progressed to midnight, the fun really started. Well, dinner dance meant dinner and dancing! We danced the Greek Zorba and whooped it up to an old hit, ‘Running Bear’. Gee, it was fun, basically harmless.

The grand finale was dancing the Conga. My husband and I, and the workmates, including the clergy, would latch onto other drinkers from other employment. These were people we would never see or meet again, instant friends. Around the venue, we danced, with appropriate sidekicks, all in unison. The clergy were definitely still holding their own, full of Christmas cheer.

At midnight, with much laughter, we drove off into the night, ready for Christmas. It was the dinner dances of old, in venues that have largely disappeared. They had an ambience and often beautiful gardens for photogenic memories of wedding receptions on Saturdays. The property developers had their hatchets waiting with the local councils to create progress. Chop, chop, chop. All that prime real estate.

Dinner dances also seemed to have disappeared down the long trail of socialising. A lot of my old co-teachers and our significant others have long gone to their happy hunting grounds.

The social restrictions these days have all changed interactions like that. Maybe, if all the vaccines and Big Pharma are effective, the survivors of the pandemic, billions of civilians will dance one long Conga round each land. Wouldn’t that be great? Covid-19 would be extinct! Street parties, food, bevvies. Dinner dancing again!

As humans, we must always be optimistic, for the Conga to return. Were we there? Well, yeah. Signed, one of the White Doves!

Do you remember dinner dances of days gone by?

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