Celebrating the completion of a year-long community oral history project

Memories of Dunedin's dance hall days from people across the city are now available to listen to on Dunedin Public Libraries' He Purapura Marara Scattered Seeds digital archive. 

Digital Outreach Coordinators, Jill Bowie and Kay Mercer, have been collecting stories about the Joe Brown dances, St Kilda dances, St John's, and country dances and balls in the district for the last year, since launching their 'Dance Hall Days' project via their Recollections Radio show at OARfm Dunedin. 

"It's been such fun, talking to people about their memories of those days," says Kay. "We've met some wonderful people, and it's been a privilege and a pleasure to share their stories of their younger selves, enjoying their Friday and Saturday nights."

Jill was excited to discover how many people met their future partners at the dances, her own mother and father having met at a St Kilda dance, back in the late 1950's. "The Dance Halls have been responsible for a lot of Dunedin families, in a way. As we've discovered from our many chats with people during the course of the project, the dances were really the only opportunity single people got to meet!"

The project is now ready to view, with audio recordings and written recollections, as well as photographs and the background to local dances. 

Although, we're really happy to have this content available for people to view and listen to, this is an open-ended project, and we welcome more contributions. You can add comments, photographs or other material directly to the archive via the 'contribute' button, or you can contact Jill or Kay by email or by calling 03 474 3690. If you have older relatives who have memories of the times, please pass these details on to them.

Recollections Radio is presented by Kay Mercer and Jill Bowie, and is broadcast live at 11am on Mondays, with a repeat at 10pm on Tuesday evenings. Or you can download the podcasts from OARfm Dunedin. The show has been funded by the National Library via the New Zealand Libraries Partnership Project, and broadcasts will continue until Christmas 2022. 

You can enjoy a diverse range of fantastic local content on Otago Access Radio. Download a copy of their latest programme schedule to find out what's on.