Organisers’ last dance at Kybong

ETHEL Matthews and Myrna McVicar saved the last dance for their husbands, John and Bob, yesterday.
Cleaning out their meeting headquarters at Kybong Hall, they reflected on their role in a social institution which, for generations, brought people together from all over the near-Gympie area.
It was an era which saw them grow from young people in love to parents and then grandparents.
The country hall dance circuit was already a big deal from Traveston and Mothar Mountain to Chatsworth, Long Flat and Cedar Pocket.
They helped get Kybong Hall incorporated into the circuit in 1983, after attendances became too much for the Traveston Hall.
“We’ve only got a tiny hall at Traveston. It’s mainly for meetings and parties, but the crowds got too big,” Ethel said.
Bob, from Traveston, and Myrna, from Kybong, have been dancing since they were teenagers.
“I met her by beating her at ping pong. I wasn’t too popular at first,” Bob laughed yesterday.
But he must have been a good dancer, because he was soon enough forgiven.
Relative newcomers, John and Ethyl moved here 32 years ago.
“It seems like a lifetime,” Ethel said.
“We’ve forgotten our previous life really. It was very different. We didn’t need to remember it, it was all mad Sydney,” she said.
Traveston Progress Association ran the dances at Traveston to pay for hall maintenance, but after 25 years, they had become too crowded.
The first dance at Kybong Hall was held on February 12, 1983, with a band that cost $140 and $25 for hall hire.
They remember the best years were during the 1990s, when crowds would reach 120 or more on a regular basis.
“All through the ‘90s, we would get somewhere on either side of 100, but in the last four or five years, it’s down to 60, so we only made about $120 from the last one.
“Your expenses go up all the time,” Ethel said. The last hall hire fee was $75.
Entry was $4.50 in 1990. Now it’s $11, but that too is what they call progress.
“We’d go to all the halls. Every Saturday night it’d be dancing,” they recalled.
 And while they reluctantly admit that age and infirmity have to some extent wearied them, it is the changing times that have wearied the country dance institution itself.
“We used to get a lot of young people turning up,” Myrna said yesterday. That includes Bob and Myrna’s children, Greg, Leah and Donna, along with John and Ethel’s children, Roslyn and Jennifer.
Some brought their own children in baby capsules. Although the dances continue at Chatsworth and Long Flat, it’s now up to new organisers to keep Kybong dancing.
Gympie Times

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