Katie Belle’s was packed with long-time dancers for the very last Country Western Wednesday, a bittersweet time for all.
“We’re happy and sad at the same time,” Bridgeport at Lake Sumter Villagers Phil and Anne Bartling said.
He said dancing to the music made them happy.
Phil Bartling twirled his wife around, her arm barely missing his black cowboy hat. All around the dance floor, people in Western boots and string ties stepped to the Western music of Carol Ann.
“We’ve been coming here on Wednesdays for about 10 years,” Anne added. “We’ve made some good friends and have lots of memories — and it’s hard to believe today is good-bye.”
The popular Spanish Springs Town Square Villagers-only club shuts down officially on Friday.
“We think the new Katie Belle’s design will be nice, because the Morse family doesn’t build anything but good things, but it just won’t be the same. We’re not sure where we’re going to dance for all the months this saloon will be closed down for rebuilding,” Anne said, shaking her head, “but we’ll find a way to get together.”
At another table, Tony and Kathy Mongerio from Ocala, who have performed as “The Sounds of Time,” sat enjoying a drink, watching the dancers glide around the room.
“My wife just got out of the hospital,” Tony said, “so everyone knows we’re not going to entertain today. But we’re just glad to be here among friends, and so sad to see this beautiful place destroyed. Everyone will be back, but the new stage will be very small — it’s just going to be different.”
The Sounds of Time have been entertaining crowds at The Villages squares for about 16 years, and at Katie Belle’s every Wednesday for about 10 years.
“Tony will be touring with the show band,” Kathy said, “so he’ll stay busy, but this is one change we’re sorry to see take place.”
Audience members were discussing how Katie Belle’s could use some sprucing up — new carpets, tweaks here and there, but nobody thinks Spanish Springs needs new stores or anything as radical as the changes which are planned. They will be in a “wait and see” mode, wondering what types of entertainment will be booked in the new venue. They pray the bartenders and wait staff will be able to locate new jobs in a hurry to maintain their family incomes — and they hope the new facility will be amenable to accommodate their Western Wednesday dance parties.