I look at my life in Hawke’s Bay, evenings spent in front of the television night after night, a glass of wine and then off to bed at 10.30, and I dream of something different. The highlight of the week is a night out at Cinema Gold taking in a movie, followed by a pizza at Pipi’s. And that’s great, but…

What if over the long summer evenings in the town squares of Havelock North, Napier, Hastings or Taradale we were all dancing – music, laughter, wine, food, knowing everyone out there, all age groups with the gorgeous girls and guys showing off with their sexy dance moves swinging and jiving?

In Tivoli, in the hills one hour from Rome, this is what happens Monday to Sunday at the end of the hot day when it cools off enough to get out and stroll through the streets. No one in Tivoli is at home sitting in front of the telly.

The girls are wearing their pretty dresses and going through their line dancing routines, and this includes grandmothers and children, the guys few in this lineup, but not unwelcome. One or two couples dance in a loose embrace moving between and around them. Those who aren’t dancing are sitting at tables drinking an aperitif or a beer, the old guys talking and boasting … when they’re not eyeing up the pretty girls.

In the town square under a canopy the musicians gig every night, accordion, saxophone, guitar, drums playing their swinging stuff. Kids run about until after dark when their parents take them home happy. No one is drunk but everyone is having a great time

Of course, it doesn’t happen here, but why not? Are we so hooked on crappy television that we prefer to be isolated in our own homes in the long summer evenings?

Hastings already has its new town squares, Napier its paved piazzas in the centre of town, and in the Havelock village we could remove the car parking in Middle Road, pave the whole area in front of the shops, give the cafes and bars the space to set up tables and we could dance!

Are we just too dull, lazy and unsociable to enjoy this beautiful way to spend a summer evening?

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