A dance band from back in the day

I’ll take you home again Kathleen, Have you ever been lonely? – the songs are familiar, pulling us back through the years when dance halls were where you met your mates or that special girl or boy and fell in love.

“You made me love you, I didn’t want to do it”…the dancers would sing to each other as they waltzed around the hall dreaming of remote, rosy futures. 

But the old-time tunes have stayed with us and so too have the dancers. 

Go along to the Spring Gully Hall on any given Saturday night and you will find them there dancing to the four different bands, which are regularly featured. 

The dancers are older now, those dreams lived through or forgotten. 

Backs are bent and faces lined but once the couples step out onto the floor the music and the movement soon eases the pain as they drift into a waltz or fox trot. 

Don Winkelman, 80, is a member of the Bitz-N-Pieces Band (pictured right), one of the four that play every Saturday night. 

Mr Winkelman plays piano, Cole Richmond, also 80, saxophone, Neville Peirce, 71, the trumpet and Bill Badger, 71, plays the drums. 

They often call in other musicians for special events, hence the name, Bitz-N-Pieces. These extra musicians include second sax, piano accordion, base guitar and vocals.

“Most of us are senior citizens aging from our 60s to early 80s,” Mr Winkelman said. 

Mr Winkelman reckons that they have averaged 60 years each of playing music and watching couples dance.

“It’s sad but over the years I’ve seen three people die on the dance floor,” he said.

Mr Winkelman refrains from further comment but it is tempting to imagine that such a death, death by dancing, in the arms of your mate wouldn’t be such a bad way to go.

Mr Winkelman and his fellow musicians often play at charity events. 

“We do voluntary work and play at nursing homes and often combine for charity dances,” he said. “We’ve helped raise money for bushfire, drought and cancer appeals.”

They may be busy raising money for charity but Bitz-N-Pieces are enjoying themselves as well.

You can next see Bitz-N-Pieces at St Mary’s Hall, Castlemaine, corner Lyttleton and Hargraves streets. Sunday, August 26, at 1.30pm to 5.30pm. Afternoon tea, prizes and proceeds to aid Castlemaine Charities – St Luke’s and St Vincent De Paul. Phone Don Winkelman on 54721298.

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