Club keeping rock ‘n’ roll alive in the south

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    Invercargill Rock ‘n’ Roll Club members (from left) Alice Butler (15), Dominic Harris (15), president Karl Herman, Cooper Unahi (5) and Elsie Buchanan (5) get ready for the club’s Dance-a-thon in June.

    THEY say rock roll never dies, and an Invercargill club is living proof of that.

    The Invercargill Rock ‘n’ Roll Club was established more than 35 years ago and since then has been bringing fun, dance and twists for its members.

    However, as many clubs across the country, it has lost a bit of traction on numbers due to the challenges and restrictions of Covid-19.

    Club president Karl Herman said the club suffered a drop of about 15% of its membership but wanted to keep the title of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll club in New Zealand.

    “The club couldn’t be open [during lockdown], you had to have a vaccine pass as well. So it has put off a lot of people.

    “Rock ‘n’ roll is still going from the 1950s to today – it’s great to see the club still prospering really well.”

    To boost membership numbers and raise the club’s profile, the club will run a Dance-a-thon at the Invercargill Scottish Hall next month.

    Mr Herman said members of the club and other rock ‘n’ roll groups from throughout the South Island would descend on Invercargill to take part in a 12-hour dancing marathon.

    “The public will be able to see really good social dancing on the floor. Every hour we’ll have demonstrations so it will have kids and adults doing throws, they will be fully dressed up and they will be doing cool moves.”

    Every hour, spectators would also have an opportunity to have a go at trying some rock ‘n’ roll dancing.

    “We did a dance-a-thon 20 years ago, in our own hall, and it was packed. It was just amazing. When we did that, our membership skyrocketed because people loved it and they wanted to get involved. So the open day will do three things – lift our profile within the community, lift our membership [numbers] and will create more active people in the community.”

    The event will be free thanks to the support of Community Trust Southland, Active Southland, Creative Communities and the ILT.

    The event will also work as a fundraiser as the club aims to demolish its “run down” 1930s hall in Waikiwi to build a new one on the same site.

    He believed the amount needed was $1.2 million for this work to be done.

    It was important to keep the club alive as it was a very social, family-orientated group, with members ranging from 5 years old to over 70.

    “We are not a club which pushes people to compete. We are not a club to push people to hit the podiums. We are just a club to let people have fun.”

    • Invercargill Rock ‘n’ Roll Club Dance-a-thon, June 11, noon to midnight, Scottish Hall, Esk St, Invercargill, free entry.
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