THE Tea Dances are always a highlight of the Mayor's events diary and this month it has been announced that they will be making a welcome return – in a somewhat new format thanks to BBC Radio Foyle's Mark Patterson Show.
Today (Tuesday) from 2pm to 3pm the show will host a special live virtual Tea Dance, introduced by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane councillor Michaela Boyle, for all those who have been missing their monthly social outing.
The show will feature music from local band Midnight Sun, with some of the favourite tea dance tunes that regulars will know and love. Not to mention a trip down memory lane thanks to council's Museum and Heritage Services.
The Mmseum will be providing a digital archive of some fascinating pieces from the Tower Museum's Showbands Exhibition featuring old photos and stories from back in the day.
There will be the opportunity to hear from some Tea Dance regulars and listeners can phone in to share their stories and memories.
Speaking ahead of the event the Mayor, councillor Boyle, said she was really looking forward to catching up with some of the Tea Dance regulars.
"The Tea Dances are one of my favourite events and they have a dedicated following of lively members of the older generation who would put us all to shame with their energy and vitality.
"This is a very difficult time for everyone – particularly older citizens – many of whom will be shielding at home, and perhaps feeling more isolated from family and friends.
"I wanted to do something positive to cheer people up by capturing some of the fun and memories from previous events, and reminding them that we will see a return to normality and many more Tea Dances to come. I want to thank Mark and all the team at BBC Radio Foyle for facilitating the idea – they are doing such a fantastic job of keeping local people informed and motivated at this time.
"Please tune in and, if you can, call in to the show and let us know how you are getting on, and share some of your fondest memories and stories from the dances. Take the opportunity to say hello to fellow tea dancers and escape for an hour with some great entertainment and craic."
With the cancellation of a number of major events in recent weeks during the current COVID-19 emergency, council have been exploring new ways to bring events and activities to the public in their own homes and gardens.
The Tea Dance is just the latest to be given a new format, and the BBC were happy to step in to facilitate the broadcast.
BBC Radio Foyle content editor Larry Deeney, said they were delighted to be able to reach out through the show.
"The Mark Patterson programme draws listeners of every generation and when the council mentioned they were hoping to broadcast the Tea Dance we thought the show would be the perfect platform. With social distancing measures in place, now people can enjoy the Tea Dance safely from their place of residence," he explained.
"We hope the Tea Dance hour will help reconnect some of the regular tea dancers and allow people to share in some of the special memories from the event."
The programme will air on Tuesday, May 12, from 2pm to 3pm. Anyone who would like to contact the show can text 81771 start with the word Foyle or phone 0300 123 1001 during the show.