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Share memories to win chance to dance at Municipal Building Assembly Hall

assembly ballroom

Municipal Building memories are set to come alive with Last Dance, First Dance, a nationwide search tofind people who danced in the Municipal Building Assembly Hall between 1950 and 2014.

After being closed for eight long years due to earthquake strengthening, the Municipal Building at Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre is finally ready to welcome people back.

To mark the occasion, dancers from days gone by are being asked to share their memories of the Assembly Hall and the original sprung dancefloor, and get the chance to kick up their heels again for the “First Dance” at special reopening event being held on August 6.

Wedding dances, school balls, Rock ‘n’ Roll, ballet recitals, 21st birthdays – all kinds of occasions have been held over the years, it’s part of what makes the place so special to the Hastings community, said 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.

“Since we put the call out for people to take part in this, 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 are asked to share their memories at and the winners will join the “first dance” to classic tunes being played by the Hawke’s Bay Jazz Club Big Band.

On the night they can take their own steps or follow along with dance instructor Nerida Cortese.

Dancing professionally for more than 30 years, Nerida is probably most recognisable to Kiwis for her television appearances on Dancing with the Stars, Battle of the Ballroom and So You Think You Can Dance. In addition to her dancing, producing and choreographing, Nerida is also an Instagram star sharing fun dance tutorials she performs with her son Jett.

On the night there will be spot prizes for “best dancers” and “best dressed”, and spectators are welcome.
Ahead of the evening’s Last Dance, First Dance event children of all ages will also have the chance to dance with Nerida and Jett, at the “Kids Dance” between 2.30pm – 3.30pm on Saturday, August 6.

Again, there will be spot prizes for the best dancers and best dressed/costumes.  Entry is free and all ages welcome.

Last Dance, First Dance is just some of the fun planned during the Municipal Building’s official opening weekend celebrations August 6 and 7.

Other activities include a powhiri, community group performances and an historical tour with Hawke’s Bay historian Michael Fowler.

For more details go to

15 July 2022

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