I believe that the agreement between the Buxton community and the Government of Guyana to rebuild the historic Tipperary Hall is a symbolic new cooperation, progressive and positive whether politically or culturally.
My interest in Tipperary Hall arises from the little I have gathered from its history as a meeting place for social, political and cultural activities. I note particularly the enjoining of the arts and politics in the use of the venue in the past. I became interested in the hall because of its association with dance and cultural tradition, and mainly for that reason it is very disappointing that the new building will not be constructed to recapture the architecture, shape, style and appearance of the old one. I believe the rebirth of Tipperary Hall would have much more meaning if it copied the 1909 architecture with all its tradition and history.
The Guyana National Dance Company has in its repertoire choreography titled Tipperary Hall. It is designed on the popular dance steps of the era of the 1940s and ’50s when members of the community would go to ‘a dance’ in the community hall on a weekend night. The costuming captured the styles of dress of those times, while other aspects of the work recreated the atmosphere of the dance-hall, the social interactions, the innuendos, undercurrents and, above all, the dance steps and moves as well as the popular music of the times. The overall effect of Tipperary Hall is an experience of not only a night’s entertainment, but a sense of community spirit and the traditional cultural event that those ‘dances’ were.
Were it built in the style of the old one, the new hall would be, like the NDC dance, a symbol of the community that Buxton was, and of the attempts newly being made to recapture the spirit made rich by village tradition in a new try at healing old wounds. Buxton is a historic place as a part of the post-Emancipation village movement on the Demerara East Coast and the social and political turmoil it has recently gone through. The new building may be seen as the symbol of a new pact between village and government.
But quite above that, its appearance would be visually distinct, with character, meaning and a story behind it. Look at a picture of the old Tipperary Hall and you see a simple but striking structure that has a ready and recognisable identity; easily the most identifiable building in Buxton. It is a pity that the new one will reflect so little of all that.