History of Rock n Roll Dancing in Melbourne

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Posted by [email protected] on April 11, 2020 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

What a year!!  2020 started off with bushfires everywhere. The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, known as the Black Summer, began with several serious uncontrolled fires in June 2019. Throughout the summer, hundreds of fires burnt, mainly in the southeast of the country. The major fires peaked during December–January. By March 2020, the fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares, destroyed over 5,900 buildings and killed at least 34 people. An estimated one billion animals have been killed. At its peak, air quality dropped to hazardous levels. The cost of dealing with the bushfires is expected to exceed the A$4.4 billion of the 2009 Black Saturday fires, and tourism sector revenues fell by more than A$1 billion. By 7 January 2020, the smoke had moved approximately 11,000 kilometres across the South Pacific Ocean to Chile and Argentina.  Source Wikipedia.

The rock and roll community got together and held several bushfire fundraiser dances.  Adrian Spadaro held several dances over February and March raising a total of $15,135 which was donated to the CFA on the 13th March at the Polish Club dance.

2020 saw the development of the corona virus Covid-19, which developed into a world wide pandemic.  By the middle of March all dances and dance classes had been shut down and Australia was put into a lockdown to try to control the spread.  Some performers like James Bookman, Rick Charles and Frankie Stevens started do live Facebook performances in April to keep the rockers entertained.  Some dance schools like Alley Catz, started live facebook dance classes, and DJ's also live streamed music.

The VRRDA state championships were postponed in May and recheduled for August.

Life in Victoria in 2020 with COVID-19

March 2020, the world slowed down, the roads were quiet, petrol prices were at a record low and the skies were empty. Weddings limited to 5 people, family celebrations banned, holidays banned, gatherings banned, funerals allowed only 10 attendees. No church services - worshipping online became the new norm. Schools were closed, but some stayed open for keyworker’s children only while our medical staff fought on the front line. Teachers were teaching online, keyworker employees still went to work everyday and a nation of homeworkers tried to keep the country going. Farmers kept farming, working to produce food for our tables. Carers carried on looking after the elderly and most vulnerable. There was panic buying of toilet paper, disinfecting supplies, paper towel, hand sanitiser and a whole bunch of foods. Social distancing became the new catchcry.  Supermarkets put tape on the floor to help keep shoppers 2 metres apart,and limited the number of people allowed inside stores. Non-essential stores and businesses closed. Hotels, pubs, club were all closed. Employees were put on unpaid leave or let go. Many jobs were lost and there was hardship for lots of people.  Cafes and restaurants could stay open but only to serve takeaway.Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events were all cancelled. Entire sports seasons halted. Olympics postponed by a year to be held in Tokyo, 2021. No gatherings, no social events - all cancelled. Playgrounds closed and no group sports.

We were allowed to leave home only to exercise close to home, get food and essentials, visit a doctor, provide care, or to go to work. Grandparents couldn't see their grandchildren.  Police started to book people for being out and about if they were not doing one of the allowed activities.  A huge amount of governement bailout money, in the trillions, was promised to try to prop up the economy. But the birds kept singing and nature carried on around us.  Smog cleared in India, in Venice the water cleared up so people could see fish swimming - some say the earth breathed again. We socially distanced from one another and stayed home.  Families were separated in isolation and quarantine. Relationships were put on hold, weddings cancelled, but technology has enabled us to stay connected with FaceTime - WhatsApp - Zoom - Messenger - Houseparty - TikTok. There was a massive demand for masks, gowns, gloves for our front line workers.  A desperate need for respirators for the critically ill. Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switched their production lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitiser and PPE. Communities came together, looking out for neighbours, friends and strangers - doing what they could to help.  People put rainbows in windows to symbolise hope, left chalk messages on footpaths, recorded songs about corona, washing your hands and staying home. We did as we were told and followed the advice to ‘Stay at home,and save lives’ - it’s the least we could do. It all started in Wuhan, China in Nov 2019 and by March had spread all over the world. Sadly hundreds of thousands affected, dead, dying, critically ill.

This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.

What will come next for the rest of 2020????

2019 review

Posted by [email protected] on January 22, 2020 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

New Year's Eve Dance and Review of Victorian Rock n Roll Scene in 2019

Rockers everywhere celebrated New Year's Eve in several dances held around Melbourne and in country Victoria. The Uptown Catz played in Rosebud, Fender Benders in Pakenham, Kid James in Wheelers Hill, Moonlighters in Altona, Straight 8's in Bacchus Marsh, and the Rockin' Tones in Maryborough were just some of the many gigs held on New Year's Eve. I too joined in the fun by attending the dinner dance with Honky Tonk Rockers at the Dandenong Workers Club.


So we bid farewell to 2019.... a year with many highlights and some lows. Our Melbourne and Victorian rock n roll scene continue to be vibrant and very much alive with live bands and dancing every weekend and, on a week day as well, at the Freccia Club in Keysborough which has continued on the rock n roll tradition for nearly 20 years. There's new dance venues started this year at Hampton Park with a regular monthly dance and at the Bayswater Senior Citizens Hall. The Pirates Tavern in Williamstown also hosts regular gigs with live rock n roll bands from time to time. It was also very pleasing that Fast Eddies Poolroom once again has opened its door for live music and rock n roll dance on Sunday evenings.


For those rockers looking for an alternative live music & dance scene, look no further than to our Melbourne's very vibrant pub scene where great bands and music is available every weekend at the Gem bar, Dog's bar, Transport bar, the Lomond, Rainbow hotel and Oak Tree Tavern just to name a few of these venues. Many of these bands such as Louis King & the Liars Klub, Scotty Baker, Ezra Lee, Hanks Jalopy Demons, Kieron McDonald etc are not usually seen playing in our "classic" traditional rock n roll venues but nonetheless, these bands are internationally acclaimed and get invited to play in international music festivals around the world.


There have been at least a couple of new bands started in 2019 like Kid James Trio and the Uptown Catz whilst other bands such as the Straight 8's and the Vincents have been rockin' Melbourne for over 25 years. Sadly, a couple of bands - the Speedsters and the Jump Devils, finished up in 2019 and they will be sadly missed in our dance scene. We shall also miss the dynamic work of DJ Ashley and his wife, Leanne, who decided to retire from the dance scene due to Ashley's health issue. Thank you for the music Ashley as we have been the beneficiaries of your work in introducing the very best bands in Victoria.


Rockers continue to be blessed with choices in terms of the multiple music festivals they could attend in 2019. In Victoria, we have Camperdown's Rock The Clock, Rosebud's Rock by the Bay, Ballarat Rock (to be revived in 2020), Geelong Rock n Roll Festival, Gippsland Rock n Roll Festival, Ararat Jailhouse Rock and several other county Victoria rock n roll music festivals in Bendigo, Mulwala, Horsham and in Cobram.


For those rockers who are prepared to travel, there's Cooly Rocks On which continues to draw a large contingent of rockers from Victoria and other states every year, Greazefest in Brisbane which is a rockabilly music festival celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with more international acts and the ever popular Chromefest held at the Entrance and Kuri Kuri Nostalgia festival. One could also attend Adelaide Rock n Roll festival as well as Victor Harbour Rock n Roll Festival in South Adelaide.


One highlight for 2019 is the VRRDA annual Rock n Roll Dance Championship which continues to showcase the best of competitive rock n roll dancing. Dancers from Sydney's Swingcatz continues its dominance in winning the top events including the Senior Open titles. Another very pleasing feature of this year's VRRDA dance championship has been the increase participation of young rock n rollers thanks mainly to the work done by Grant & Maryanne Richards. For those interested in competing, there's also Alleycatz's Melbourne rock n roll dance competition and several other Victorian country dance competitions held in Geelong, Gippsland and in Camperdown held as part of their music festivals.


The VRRDA continues the tradition to recognise individuals who have made a huge contribution to Rock n Roll. For 2019, Linda Smyth and Bill & Maree Oldham were deservedly rewarded for their immense contribution to our Rock n roll scene and were inducted into VRRDA's Hall of Fame.


Rockers continue to participate in this year's Good Friday Charity dances with proceeds going to the less fortunate. Unfortunately, the very popular Rock n Suzie's Good Friday dance in Berwick did not proceed this year but DJ Ashley and another one held in the Northern Melbourne suburb were very successful in raising money for charity.


2019 has a been a big, eventful year for rock n roll music and dancing. Thank you to all the great work done by VRRDA, events holders and promoters and the many venues that have been actively supporting the promotion of our 1950's style rock n roll scene. Thank you also to all our bands for the rockin' music that we have enjoyed dancing to. But most of all, thank you to all you rockers who have come along to enjoy and support rock n roll music, dancing, cars fashion & culture. I feel confident we can again all look forward to more happy, rockin' times in 2020......keep rockin' everyone!

Paul Wan

Copied with permission from Vicrock.com.au

Rural Dance Clubs

Posted by [email protected] on September 13, 2019 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Rock and roll is popular in many country areas.  Here's a list of some of the clubs.  

For contact and class details search facebook or google, or visit website if listed. Dance lessons and social dances held regularly.

Bairnsdale Rock and Roll Dance Group

Ballarat Rockers http://www.ballaratrockers.com

BENDIGO Jailhouse Rockers Club Inc.  http://www.bendigojailhouserockers.com

Bendigo Rockin' 50's Rock 'N' Roll Club Inc.  www.rockn50sbendigo.com/wordpress

Formed in 1988, meet at the Bendigo Club, Park Street, Bendigo, the first Tuesday of each month.

Colac Rock n Roll Club  www.icrock.com.au/event/colac-rock-n-roll-club


Gatha Rocks Leongatha

Geelong Jukebox Rockers Inc. Formed in 1998 Located at White Eagle House, Fellmongers

Rd, Breakwater Geelong. Hold annual Jan festival.  http://www.geelongjukeboxrockers.com

Hazelwood North FIFO Rockers

Hooked on Rock – Traralgon


Lakeside Rockers Gippsland Inc   http://www.lakesiderockers.com.au

Lakeside Rockers, P.O. Box 9056, Sale, Victoria, 3850.

Latrobe Rockers Gippsland Inc (Morwell).

LE Rock -  Lakes Entrance


Rosebud Rockers

Rusty Rockers - Paynesville


S’cool House Rock – Maffra and Echuca : Maffra - Greg and Wendy Gilbert

Twin Cities Rock ’n’ Roll Club (Albury Woodonga) formed in 1991  [email protected]

Wimmera Rockers - Horsham

Shepparton Shake-Out 2017

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2019 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Shepparton Shake-Out Rockabilly Festival 2017

Despite ominous weather forecast for a very hot day on Saturday and rain on Sunday, the feed-back was very positive from those who had attended last weekend's inaugural Shepparton Shake-Out Rockabilly Festival. I wasn't there on the opening Friday night but had a great time on Saturday & Sunday.

There was just so much to do and see. Non-stop music all day & night, live bands from overseas and local Aussie bands, non-stop dancing of course plus a host of other fun-filled activities including hotrods & Kustoms classic cars display, merchandise and food stores, carnival rides for the kids & family, Miss Pin Up & 1950's fashion parade, dance classes and competition.

The Shepparton Showground was a fantastic venue to hold a 1950's style music and show & shine hotrods festival. Unlike Camperdown, there was no problem with finding accommodation with a big range of accommodation providers in Shepparton and surrounding townships. The venue has a large car park for patrons and a large oval for hotrod & cars display and merchandise stores. It has two large band stages & dance floors under cover, and the rockabilly stage was especially welcome as it was air-conditioned and therefore very popular when it was very hot on Saturday. In addition, there was a room for dance classes as well an open stage for the Miss Pin Up and 1950's fashion parade.

As usual, there was a big selection of overseas and local Aussie bands to entertain the patrons that came from Victoria and inter-states. Overseas bands included the Vargas Brothers & Gamblers Mark from the USA, CC Jerome from the Netherlands and Shorty Jetson from Belgium. Local Aussie bands included many my favourites like the Detonators, Benny & the Flyby Niters, Hank Jalopy Demons, Kieron McDonald, Three Loaders, Phoenix, Robyn & the Rancheros, Kitty Martini, the Jump Devils, Silverados from Adelaide, Twang and Route 66 from Queensland and Bad Luck Kitty from NSW. Bands were playing concurrently on two stages but nevertheless, I still got to see and dance to most of the bands in action.

The Rock n Roll dance competition was well attended with a big field of competitors including many younger dancers competing for the first time. Great to see dancers showcasing the competitive side of Rock n Roll dancing. I think the winners were from the Albury R&R Dance School taught by Johnny Phung who himself was a former VRRDA Rock & Roll dance champion back in the 1990's.

Finally, I think general public & family participation was a bit down in numbers due mainly to the inclement weather. Increasing participation level from the general public & family is an an area that could be looked for next year's event. All in all, it was a fun event and all those who attended had a great time. Thanks to the Shepparton council and Arthur (the promoter) for organising this year's Shepparton Shake-Out Rockabilly Festival.

Jitterbug - Copied with permission from vicrock.com.au

Ararat Jailhouse Rock festival 2017

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2019 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Ararat Jail House Rock Festival, 17 - 19 March 2017

What a great festival Ararat’s 23rd Annual Jail House Rock and Roll festival was over the weekend 17 – 19 March.

Created in 1995 as a not for profit incorporated body, the 2017 celebration of all things rock’n'roll; showcased the fantastic Fender Benders, the tremendous Smokin Wingtips, the Rockin Atomic High Tones, the great Robyn and the Rancheros, the wonderful Two of Us along with the sensational DJ and hosting expertise of DJ Jeff and Susanne.

The sun shone brilliantly on Alexandra Oval for the entire weekend as hot-rod and classic car owners’ show cased their beautiful machines, stall holders displayed their wares and the magic sounds of rock and roll radiated from the huge and improved pavilion which beaconed dancers to the dance floor.

Friday night had many dance under the stars in the extra-large marquee on Alexandra Oval with the Atomic High Tones; then there were choices on Saturday night with the Smokin’ Wingtips dancing up a frenzy under the stars in the marquee on the oval, the Fender Benders blowing the roof off Alexandra Hall, and Robyn and the Rancheros scaring the ghosts away as J-Ward rocked the night away.

Non-stop entertainment by the featured bands on both Saturday and Sunday, the Shannon’s Show ‘n’ Shine as well as a fashion parade was very entertaining with babes, toddlers, teens and adults showing off their eye catching fashions; I don’t have all the winners names but do know that Josh Sharples was crowned King, Helena Appleby crowned Queen, Kim Zdravkovski came away with Lady of the Day and Matthew Zdravkovski as Gentleman of the day. A big congratulations to all the winners.

The JHR Festival has been conducted by a volunteer committee as an annual event for the last 23 years with the support of the Ararat Rural City Council, and generous sponsorship from local & regional businesses. Congratulations to Sandra who never stopped smiling and her hardworking committee for making everybody so welcome and for once again, pulling off another wonderful Ararat Jail House Rock Festival.

Be sure to save the dates of 16 – 18 March 2018 for Ararat’s 24th Annual Jail House Rock Festival. This is an event that all rock and rollers would regret missing.

Jitterbug - Copied with permission from vicrock.com.au

Cooly Rocks on 2018

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2019 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Cooly Rocks On 2018

It seems like rockers from the southern states just couldn't get enough of Coolangatta's mainly sunny & dry weekend weather for Cooly Rocks On 2018. Not quite beautiful one day and perfect the next, but it was close enough. How could anyone complain when the Cooly rock n roll festival is mainly free entry to all music & dance events with the exception of a couple of gigs at the upstairs room in Twin Towns, South Tweeds Sports Club or at Seagulls. And what a bonus too this year when you can combine Cooly Rocks On with Wintersun 2 which started a weekend earlier at Murwillumbah, and later, on the same weekend as Cooly Rocks On with live bands staged at Seagulls.

The 1950's style festival at Cooly had fewer interstate bands this year but on the positive side, it gave interstate visitors an opportunity to sample lots more local Brisbane bands such as Twang, Lock N Load, the Argonauts, the Walters, Little Stevie and the Tailfins, Cherry Divine & Linelockers just to name a few of those bands. Lance Lipinski from Texas, USA was the headline musical act with his trademark showmanship and his extravaganza performance on stage. It was obvious everyone loved & enjoyed Lipinski's performance on stage. Personally, I also enjoyed seeing Aussie "rockabilly" and rock n roll legend from the 1960's - Lonnie Lee & the Leeman.

Cooly Rocks On is much more than just rock n roll. There was blues, swing and rockabilly on offer too to suit your music genre preference or style of dancing. Of course, Cooly Rocks On is also about kustoms and hotrod display & cruisin' plus the usual attractions like the street parade on Saturday morning, Miss Cooly Rocks On competition, dance competition & classes and merchandise galore on the beachfront at Marine Parade.

Not as many band stages this year but there were other venues staging gigs during day time and in the evening such as Coolangatta Sands hotel, Greenmount Beach Club, Coolangatta Surf Club, Currumbin RSL but the biggest venue has to be (again) Twin Towns where it was packed with dancers every night for the duration of the festival.

I enjoyed my weekend at Coolangatta this year and I am sure many others did too. The festival enables many to catch up with friends & family from interstates and to share a dance, a meal & drinks or simply enjoy watching the cars or bands on offer. Whether it was better this year is quite debatable but I am sure it could be better again next year if more rockers and the general public support & attend Cooly Rocks On. From reports I have heard, over 80,000 people attended the festival the year before and more people again attended this year which is good news. Increase attendance not only add to the festival's atmosphere but also results in more businesses participation and hopefully also encourages increase funding from the Council to run the event to its full potential. So together lets support rock n roll and keep it going for many more years to come.

Jitterbug - Copied with permission from vicrock,com.au

Geelong Jukebox Rockers Festival 2019

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2019 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Geelong Jukebox Rockers Summer R&R Festival

Geelong Jukebox Rockers staged its annual Summer R&R festival just last weekend and it was a great success indeed. The rockers I spoke to all had a great time. This R&R festival is one of the "must attend" festivals in Melbourne/Victoria for those who truly love our 1950's style music, dancing and classic cars.

The festival was staged over 3 days starting with the Friday night dance with the Fender Benders. Saturday's activities included dance classes, dance competition and the evening dance with the Smokin' Wingtips. Sunday was the family "picnic" day with live bands playing concurrently at the outdoor stage and the hall at White Eagle House. The 3 bands in attendance comprised the Fender Benders, Atomic Hi Tones/Rockin' Daddies and Shane Magro Combo with its new set up. DJ Jeff played music for more dancing during the band breaks. There were also classic cars, caravans and motor bikes display on the day.

Weather wise, it was a brilliant sunny day and a huge crowd turned up to enjoy the music, dancing and cars display. All in all, it was a wonderful day catching up with friends from all over Melbourne and country Victoria plus visitors from South Australia too. Well done to Geelong Jukebox Rockers for staging another very successful R&R festival and keeping us rockin' all weekend.

Jitterbug - Copied with permission from vicrock.com.au

Ballarat Beat 2019 festival

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2019 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Ballarat Beat 2019

Despite some pre-event negative publicity and comments on social media about the changes that were to take place for Ballarat Beat, I nonetheless went ahead to attend this rock n roll music and dance festival. I am so glad I went as I had a great time on the weekend listening and dancing to some of Melbourne's favourite bands which included Scotty Baker, Jukebox Racket, Louis King & the Liars Klub, Atomic Hi tones, Hank Jalopy Demons, Itchy Fingers and Robyn & the Rancheros.

And of course it was more than just music and dancing. There was a 1950's fashion parade and Miss Pin Up competition which usually draws a big crowd. There were classic cars on display and 1950's merchandise for sale. Rockers were dressed in their 1950's clothing and the vibe in town generally was one of having great fun and catching up with friends from all over Victoria and inter-state.

It was a shame that Lydiard Street was not closed off this year as this was the major focal point for rockers and the general public in past years where bands played on the Lydiard street stage, dancing rock n roll, classic cars display and lots of merchandise stores. Instead, this year the "public" stage was located off the George Hotel's laneway. Public participation from what I can observe was well down from previous years. The Hop Temple bar & restaurant, on the other hand, was rockin' all Saturday afternoon.

There's no doubt it's very hard to stage a music festival year by year and still drawing in the crowds. I hope rockers are ready to provide constructive comments so that the promoters can take note and make those necessary changes to make Ballarat Beat even better for next year. We must all try to support our rock n roll festivals to keeping it alive and vibrant for many more years to come.

Jitterbug.  Copied with permission from vicrock.com.au

Gippy Rocks 2019

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2019 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Gippy Rocks hosted its fifth year of Rock n Roll Festival in Sale last weekend and it was a very enjoyable weekend of R&R music, dancing and competition. The weather was fantastic all weekend. It was also my first time attending a R&R event in Sale. Gippy Rocks is a charity event with all profits going to charity and for a very good cause. Well done to Gippy Rocks.

The festival started off on Friday night with the Cadillac Drifters playing at the Sale Memorial Hall. It is a huge hall with one of the biggest dance floors in Victoria. It was well decorated with balloons and streamers and it was quite obvious that the Gippy Rocks organisers have gone to a lot of trouble to make everyone feeling welcome and ensuring the hall exudes the R&R 1950's feel and vibe. On Saturday, there was two bands - Rockin' Tones playing their classic jukebox tunes and the Silverados from Adelaide with a slightly more upbeat "rockabilly" tunes. I enjoyed both bands and the contrast in style between the two bands is something I find quite pleasing.

There was also the Regional Gippsland R&R dance competition on Saturday afternoon. The format is varied which included a "Jack & Jill" fun event which is open to everyone to participate. There were also other fun events like "boy-boy, girl-girl" event as well as an "adult-child" dance event. Most of the finals were danced and completed in the afternoon with the exception of the last event which was the "open" event. The final dance off took place during the Saturday dance night.

On Sunday, it was a "picnic" day at the Canal Reserve with three bands - the Rockin' Tones, Silverados and finally another Melbourne band, the Jump Cats. There was classic car and hotrods display plus food and merchandise stores. Two dance floors were laid specially in the park for dancers.

I highly recommend Gippy Rocks as a rock n roll festival to attend. For those travelling by car from Melbourne, it is an easy drive of just over 2 hours. Lots of accommodation available in Sale plus scenic walks and sightseeing at the Port of Sale.


Copied with permission from Vicrock.com.au

Sylvester strut line dance

Posted by [email protected] on August 23, 2019 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

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