“And here’s a waltz,” Emil Sajna tells the crowd of about 25 from the stage at the South Main Drop In Centre.
Cue an instrumental version of Tennessee Waltz from one of the hundreds of CDs he’s brought with him on this night.
“They all get up for the slow waltzes,” he whispers to me.
For eight years and some 400 dances, the 82-year-old DJ is saying good night.
He and his wife are going into assisted living. Gone are many of his LPs and CDs which he donated to the Salvation Army.
Every Sunday, Sajna unpacks his gear, sets is up, plays songs for two hours, and then packs up again and goes home — all for free.
“Emil is wonderful and we will miss him,” said Rose McDonald, first vice-president of the Drop-In Society. “He’s always here. I think there was one night all winter that we cancelled and the weather was dreadful. The people really love his music and they love him.”
Although he can’t play a note, Sajna loves music and has been DJing for more than 45 years.
“I like trying to make the people happy and getting them up dancing,” he said.
His first gig, he remembers, was a wedding. He even remembers the date — Jan. 20, 1970.
Over the years he’s seen the trends in music change but it’s remained consistent at the Drop-In Centre, they want to hear oldies.
“One of the ladies always tells me, ‘I want to hear some new music,’” he said.
His favourite song of all-time?
I Just Want to Dance With You by John Prine and Roger Cook which was popularized by George Strait in 1998.
The music won’t be silenced with Sajna’s retirement. Stan Simpson has volunteered for the month of June but a replacement (these will be big shoes to fill) is needed for the fall. McDonald invites anyone who might be interested to contact the Drop-In Centre at 250-493-2111.
“I’m going to miss the people, especially the regulars,” he said.