History of Rock n Roll Dancing in Melbourne

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Rockhouse Dance Championships

Posted by [email protected] on June 18, 2019 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)
Rockhouse monthly dance on the 3rd Saturday of the month Bayswater Darts Club, 899 Mountain Hwy, Bayswater, was put on by the band Alive 'n' Kicking from 1991 - 1996. Rent for the venue was $120 including the cost of a barman, and entry was $10.  Around 300 dancers attended regularly.  The dance ended when the Darts club sold the building in 1996.

Dance competions were held each month with finalists dancing for the championship towards the end of the year.

Band member Len O'Connor designed the posters and hand coloured each one.  The posters were then given to the finalists at the championships.

Judging Criteria for Rockhouse Dance Comps - 5 Judges each awarded a possible 20 points for 1 Technique - 2 Originality - 3 Choreography - 4 Showmanship - 5 Dress - Making a total of 100 points - Couldn't be fairer than that for overall dancing ability regardless of Dance Style.

1993 finals competitors were, in order of appearance, : Jamie and Renee, John and Sue, Jason and Caroline, Adrian and Chris, Andy and Terry. 1st place Andy and Terri, 2nd John and Sue, 3rd Adrian and Chris. Winners all received trophy and dance posters 1st place also won blue satin embroidered jackets.   Cowboy & Tiffany - Alistair & Carol were the omissions although they're names appear on the poster.

Judges include Glenn and Rachel Delafiore

Alive 'n' Kicking band members : Ian Mair (deceased) - Damien Knott - Richard Lewis - Greg White - Len O'Connor - The Band started slowly with few gigs on offer so decided to start our own Dance (Rockhouse) - Sue Wilkinson was appointed Dance Comp promoter & organizer & unlike competitions at other Dances, we had individual couples compete solo in turn with 5 judges ( Technique - Choreography - Dress - Originality - Showmanship ) scoring out of 100 ( 20 points max per judge ) with monthly winners competing in an end of year dance off, with winners receiving Championship Silk Jackets The dance was held on the 3rd Saturday of each month and went from 60 attendees at the 1st dance to crowds of 300 & more from the 3rd month of operation. By that time the band had become quite popular & were soon regularly working 4 gigs per week at all major venues. The dance lasted around 4 years when the Bayswater Darts Club decided to sell the venue thus ending operations. No other venue could be found with the same unique atmosphere so the Dance expired but the memories live on.

Visit the History of rock n roll dancingin Melbourne Facebook page to see video's on some of the competitions and dance nights, plus video of the band playing.

The band Alive 'n' Kicking :  Ian Mair (deceased) - Damien Knott - Richard Lewis - Greg White - Len O'Connor

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Jim and Rhonda at the Rockhouse Dance championships in 1992 which they won.

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Minor dance competition at Rockhouse 1992

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Alive 'n' Kicking performing at Rockhouse JOK show

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Adrian Spadaro and Chris Black dancing in the Championships in 1993.  They placed 3rd.

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Carolyn McAlister and Jason Vargas dancing at the Rockhouse championships 1992

A review of the Flipside dance

Posted by [email protected] on December 21, 2018 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

A review of the Flipside Dance

At the end of 2013 one of Melbourne's favorite dances "Little Maria's" at the Whitehorse Club came to an end after more than 13 years of fortnightly dances. All the regulars were upset that their favorite dance was to close and Little Maria decided that she no longer had the energy to start over at a new venue. Several people were approached to start up a new dance but as its a lot of work and a big financial risk no one on the dance scene wanted the job. Finally a couple were persuaded to have a go at putting on a new dance and the Flipside dance at the Hungarian Club was kicked off in January 2014.

Milton and Sue had never run a big dance before and were completely new to Melbourne's rock n roll dance scene, but they were keen to have a go, and take the risk as there was a big outlay with insurance and bonds etc. With lots of advice from Little Maria and others, support from many of the bands and their group of helpers the Flipside dance has grown in popularity and is now one of the best dances in Melbourne held on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month.

The Hungarian Club in Boronia Rd Wantirna is a huge venue with 2 halls, plenty of off street parking, and a great big dance floor. The Flipside dance outgrew the smaller hall by the end of 2014 and is now regularly filling the larger hall. Sue and Wendy happily great everyone as they arrive, and sort out the tables for all the regulars as well as making newcomers welcome. Big Al runs the drinks at the back of the room with soft drinks, tea, coffee and a great selection of DVD's for sale. Milton provides the DJ service and of course there is always a great band on the stage. The Fender Benders, Jump & Jive, Speedsters, Blackhill Ramblers, and the Vincents are all regulars at the dance providing great music.

The fist thing that you notice that's unique at the Flipside dance is the giant screen sitting next to the band on stage. During the band breaks the screen is filled with an amazing collection of video clips of original artists performing their hits. Milton has a huge collection of clips, all digitally remastered with enhanced sound. Many are in black and white and its interesting to see how stilted the early performers where as they were told to mime the song and not move. Basic sets and go go dancers are great to see, and make you realize how far music video's have come since the 50's. Many of the videos have never, or only rarely, been seen before and are fascinating to watch. So many familiar songs that we've all danced to many times before, but when you see the original artist performing its fascinating to watch. There are also several clips of dancing, my favorite is Frankie Manning and Whiteys Lindy Hoppers dancing from the Marx Brothers film "A day at the races" from the 1940's. Another favorite is Jerry Lewis hamming it up during a jitterbug dance contest in a movie. Boy could he dance even when he was being silly!

A bit about Milton's background. Milton is a music collector, archivist and music historian, with a huge collection of thousands of original music video clips that he wants to share with Melbourne's rock n roll dancers. A visit to his home amazes when you see walls lined with row after row of DVD's all numbered and catalogued. Milton started running music trivia nights in the 1980's, which started his continuing hunt for video clips from around the globe. He has provided music and video clips on the giant screen for many parties and dances over the years, as well as the trivia nights, and has run several sing-alongs at the Sandbelt hotel after painstakingly adding lyrics to many of the clips. He also provided a rental sing-along DVD service to nursing homes, and has recently started "Backtrack" a regular trivia/ video clips/ dance / sing a long/ live music event at the Pearl, Oakleigh RSL.

In the mid 1990’s, Milton was introduced to Ronnie Burns, helping him with a number of shows, and continues to assist Ronnie with fundraisers for his Children’s foundation in Tassie. Milton was then asked by Johnny Young to manage his archive and did a number of GO Shows with John, Normie Rowe, Buddy England and Marcie Jones. He subsequently received a lot of calls from “Old Rockers” wanting to know if he had any footage of them, but sadly only seven episodes of "Go Show" survived and less of "Uptight" and "Happening", all safely preserved in Milton's huge video archive. He has the only known “Kommotion” clip in existence.

Darryl Cotton, became a close friend and they did a number of fun projects together, and it was a huge honour when he asked Milton to put all the visuals together for his funeral and later Darryl's memorial concert at the Palais. Milton has recently provided footage of Tina Arena on Young Talent Time for Dancing with the Stars, Music Max & Sunday Night on behalf of John Young. Milton continues to scan the globe for clips to add to his huge collection of original music video's from the 1940's to the present day. Many older clips have never been seen in Australia before. .

At the Flipside Dance the dancers have the opportunity to request a clip from a large selection of original clips from the 50's and 60's. If you have a favourite that you like to dance to, let Milton know at the dance by filling in a request a clip form, or send an email [email protected] And if you have any questions you'd like answered about anything to do with music, then Milton's your man as he is a walking encyclopedia of music history.

Another great feature that's a regular at the Flipside Dance is the 2 minute quiz. A 2 minute compilation clip is shown with 10 or so questions to answer with the winning entry receiving a DVD. Some of the quizzes have included 1950 - 60's Westerns, TV shows from the 50's - 60's with dance scenes, as well as name the artist or TV show from brief snippets. All are a lot of fun and a great trip down memory lane. After all who else would have a clip of dancing from F Troop, Dobbie Gillis or Gidget? A bit of fun while your resting your feet.

Each year Flipside has also hosted performances of the Alley Catz 8ww, as well as Adrian's Red Hot Rockers, plus had retro clothing retailers set up in the foyer for patrons to purchase their rock n roll shoes and outfits.

After 5 years and 106 dances, Milton and Sue have decided to close the Flipside dance and take a break. Milton will continue to entertaining rockers at the monthly Backtrack at the Oakleigh RSL Pearl venue.  Hopefully we can pursuade them to run an occasional reunion dance in the future.

The final dance for Flipside was a sold out dance with 350 rockers on Fri 14th Dec 2018, with the Speedsters also holding their final gig as they retired.


Progressive cha cha at Little Maria's dance 2012

Posted by [email protected] on December 21, 2018 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

A progressive cha cha is danced at every rock n roll dance.  It was first introduced by Andy Zammit in the 1990's. 

This clip is from Little Maria's dance at the Whitehorse Club in 2012.

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Fireball line dance at the final Flipside dance at the Hungarian Club, Dec 2018

Posted by [email protected] on December 21, 2018 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

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Fireball line dance.  This became popular in 2016 -17 and is danced to the song Fireball by Pitbull

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Dance venues

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2018 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Dance venues, past and present.

Please help by providing any information about these venues, e.g.:

– when did they open, close, how often were dances held, bands, promoters, door staff, DJ's etc.

Alley Catz Hop (   -        ) Live bands monthly on 1st Sat at Lilydale, 4th Fri at Polish Club Sunshine.  DJ Jon

Antonio Park Primary, June-July 2019 - Friday night dances run by DJ Adrian.

Arcadia Ballroom, Thornbury. Now an obscure shop front on High St, the Arcadia was regarded by many as the “birthplace of Melbourne rock ‘n’ roll”. Some of the biggest bands like the Planets, the Thunderbirds, and artists like Malcolm Arthur, Judy Cannon, Margie Mills played there in the 50's.

Malcolm Arthur and the Thunderbirds live at Arcadia 1983

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Bayswater Bowls Club, 2019 fortnightly Friday night dances run by DJ Adrian.

Bell Street Rock - run by Jim Guarini and Richard Lewis in the 1990's

Bentleigh Club, 2005

Bentleigh RSL

Box Hill RSL - Friday night dance with the Speedsters ran for 8 years ( 1992-2000)

Box Hill Town Hall

Buckley Park, (2015- 2017) Adrian’s dances held 1st Fri of each month and 4th Saturday, with a live band and DJ Adrian, $15entry. 2018 dance run by Philip Panache and Agatha, 2019 dance run by Philip Panache, as Cool Cats Club and By Rhonda's Renegade Rockers alternating months.

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Carrington Park (  -  )

CAV (Chinese Association of Victoria) Ashley St Wantirna.  ( 2015- 2017) Adrian’s dance held 2nd sat of the month live band and DJ Adrian.  From  2018 - run by FFF

Camberwell Bowls ( 2015 – 2016 ) Adrians Sunday nights

Chatham Primary,( 2016 – 2017) Adrian's dance held 3rd Fri of each month and NYE

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Chatham dance 2017

Chelsea Heights Community Centre, Sunday nights run by DJ Ashley 2019 

Chelsea Hotel (1970's -  )

Chelsea Town Hall

Classic Rock' held at the Chisholm Hall, Caulfield College run by Dave Rama in the 1990's

Clayton Bowls Club, 1st Sunday of the month live band 2018 - 

Clayton RSL (   -    ) Fri nights live bands, sat night monthly swing / jazz.  Adrian ran dances there in 1995

Collingwood Town Hall - Swing n Rock (Roz and Antony) 1999

Coburg Town Hall (   -    Adrian Spadaro Red Hot Rockers dances, then Teresa Miletta 1996- , then Rhonda Watts Renegade Rockers

Dandenong RSL 2007 -  Sunday nights rock n roll with DJ or Rick Charles.  Rock n roll dance classes with Debbie Krause.

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Dandenong RSL Sept 2019 gig guide.

Dandenong Workers Club,  1995 -  Suday nights rock n roll with DJ Jeff and DJ Flash alternating.  Friday night rock n roll bands, Rock n roll dance classes with Andy Zammit, later Glenys from Southside

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Daveys, Frankston (   -      ) Sunday live bands

Dorset Gardens

Doveton school hall - South Eastern Family Rock n Roll Club dance - committee members included Jim Guarini

Earls Court , St. Kilda

Eddie Bandroom , Chesterville Rd Moorabbin (2015 -    ) live bands and DJ Ashley Sunday nights 2015-2017, from 2018 onwards run by venue, from 2019 run by DJ Adrian.  Rock n roll dance classes with Graeme Heath 2016-17, 2018 with Peter Middleton, 2019 onwards Adrian Spadaro.

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Fawkner Community Centre, Fabulous 50's Rock n Roll Dance" run by Teresa in 1999

Ferntree Gully Hotel, (2005 -  2013) Sunday arvo live bands, Rockabilly Meltdown

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Ferntree Gully Bowls (           -        ) Sunday nights live bands, Fri nights

Flipside 2014 - 2018 Live band and DJ Milton with giant video screen 2nd and 4th Fri of each month.  206 dances over 5 years. The last dance on 14th Dec 2018 was sold out with 350 rockers in attendance.  It was also the retirement gig for the Speedsters.

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Fender Benders playing at Flipside dance 2014

Freccia Azzura / Keys ( 2002 - ) Wed nights rock n roll started by Lyndon and Kerry Lewis, later run by the club and Rick Charles, DJ plus Live bands. 

From Lyndon Lewis "The whole Rock 'n' Roll scene was left in dismay when it was announced that Pitronies was shutting dow, so I ventured out to find a venue close by to continue the Wednesday night tradition. I think on opening night we had over 350 people turn up and the rest is history. Kerry and I ran the gig and booked the bands and DJ's for the first couple of years until the manager decided that he would take it over and start changing the format away from the Pitroni formula that we adopted. " 

Opening night flyer Feb 2002

Freeway Rock ( 2007 - 2009) Shadoogie monthly dance

Furlan , Thornbury. ( early 2000's - 2020) Live band and DJ 3rd Fri of month. Run for many years by the Speedsters, then the club took over running the dance. Closed in March 2020 due to the corona virus.  Dance classes run at the club at various times by Adrian Spadaro, Sebastian. 

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Furlan 2019 gigs

Georges, Ringwood ( 2006 -2009 ) Rhonda and George.  DJ TC

Good Shepherd Church hall, Brandon Park, monthly dance run by Triple F and Marelle 2018 - 

Tripple F flyer 2019

Hampton Park Rockers (2019 - ), monthly dance at the Arthur Wren Hall in Hampton Park.  Profits to local charities.

Highett Bowls ( 2011,2014 - ) DJ Ashley and live bands, Fri and Sundays in 2018, 2019 run by the club and Peter Middleton

Just Rock (1990 - 1999?) Linda Nichols remembers Just Rock had a mural of Elvis on the dance floor. Just Rock closed down in the late ‘90’s after the wrong committee got in , and it went bust.  Denise & Charlie Lancaster along with another couple started teaching at Just Rock around 1990 at the Colchester Road Factory in Kilsyth.

The Keys (Freccia Azzura) Wednesday nights.  Started in 2002 by Lyndon Lewis, then run by the club, later run by Rick Charles, renamed The Keys.  

2019 Keys flyer

Little Maria’s (2000 -2013)  Maria worked for Adrian then later took over running the fortnightly dances at the Whitehorse Club. Maria died 2015.

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Lucky 13 Garage (2012-  ) Friday night rock n roll bands.

Malvern East RSL ( 2010 -  ) Friday night live muisc Rick Charles

Maribyrnong Bowls Club (1997-  ) Rhode Island Rockers dance.  Celebrated 168 dances and 21st birthday in 2018.

Mayfields, Brunswick Rd

Mentone RSL ( - ) Fri night live bands, Wed night Top Cats dance classes

Menzies Hall, Dandenong, Top Cats dances 2012- 2014  then DJ Ashley in Aug 2016 - 2017

Micawber Tavern

Mitcham Bowls Club - Adrian's Red Hot Rockers dances Sept 2019 - 

Mitcham RSL, ( 2012- 2014) Sunday nights live bands free entry.

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Monash Hotel ( - 2012) Sat night live bands,

Moonee Ponds Community Centre, dances finished in Oct 1998

Moonee Ponds Town Hall 1959 dances

Moorabbin Town Hall.  Johnny Okeefe Fan Club dances, Normie Rowe in the late 1990's.  Si Cranstoun promoted by Jon Hannon's Alley Catz

Mordi Rock – Terri Moon, Andy Zammit ran Mordi rock for 11 years 1990's - mid 2000, later Top Cats held dances at the same hall from 2008 - 2012

Mulgrave Country Club ( 2005- 2013) Thurs nights dance class and Rick Charles live music

Musicland, Fawkner ( 2017 - ) Thurs nights live bands

Northside Rock @ Heritage Epping ( 2004 - 2012)  Run by Clive Robertson 1st Fri of the month.  In Dec 2009 the 15,000th dancer to attend the dance won a hamper.  Jocelyn Bloye was the winner.

Ormond RSL

Pink Cadillac Diner in Knox.-  The "Bobby Soxers" dance troupe used to perform to entertain the diners in the restaurant, dancing for 4 songs then having 1 song off.  There was a juke box that the partons chose the songs from.  Members of the Bobby Soxers included Terri Moon, Andy Zammit, Gavin , Ann, Caroline McAllister, Jason

Pitronies, Springvale rd Keysbourough (1997 – 2001) Wed nights live band and DJ

Polish Syrena Club Rowville.  Adrian's Red Hot Rockers dance classes & social Thurs nights.  DJ Ashley dances, Adrians dances 2019-

Preston Town Hall.  The first rock n roll dances in Melbourne were held there in 1955.

Pyalong dance, run by Mick Gardiner and Naomi

Rembrants - Sunday nights dance. Venue burnt down

Ringwood RSL ( - ) Andy Zammit Ringwood Swing dances 2005- , Fri night bands

Ringwood Bowls ( 2016-2017) Adrians Red Hot Rockers 3rd fri of month live band

Rockabilly Wendy ran Dances with Rockabilly Bands only in Carnegie

Rockhouse was run by Rockin Richard Lewis and Len O'Connor and their band, 'Alive n Kickin' at the Bayswater Dart Club, 899 Mountain Hwy, Bayswater from 1991-1996.  Monthly Saturday night dance with Alive 'n' Kicking, with dance competitions.  Dance posters, designed and hand coloured by Len O'Connor, were given to each finalist to keep.

San Souchi

Sandown Hotel - Sunday nights with DJ Ashley 2019 

Seaford Hotel

Skyways hotel, (   - ) Sunday night dance with Rhonda and Renegade Rockers

Sly Dog Rockers Bentleigh Bowls (2014- 2015) Courtney Stammers and Peter Middleton

South Eastern Family Rock n Roll Club dance at Doveton school hall in the 1990's- committee members included Jim Guarini

Springvale Hotel (1970's - )

Springvale Town Hall - Springy Rock on Thurs nights

Stamford Hotel, Rowville, Sylvester dance classes 2017 -

Syrena Polish Club, Rowville, Adrian's Red Hot Rockers classes, dances run by club 2013, then DJ Ashley.  Adrian's dances 2019 - 

Uncle Sam's 60's Rock Cafe - Nepean Hwy, Carrum.  1997

Waltzing Matilda (2001 – 2007), Sunday nights DJ free entry, Southside Rockers dance classes Sunday and Tues with Glenys Boyd. In  2001 Sunday night alternated between Flashback band and DJ Ashley.

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West Coburg Bowls, ( - 2015) Adrians 1st & 2nd Fri live bands. (2015- ) DJ & Diva’s 2nd Fri

Whitehorse Club, East Burwood Reserve, (1999 - 2017) Adrian’s Red Hot Rockers wed nights dance class & social to DJ, Adrian's dances Fri nights with live bands 1999- 2000, 2015-2017,  Cup Eve, Anzac Day and Christmas dances 1999 - 2017.  Little Maria's fortnightly Friday night dance (2000 - 2013).  The first rock n roll dance at the Whitehorse was on Anzac Day April 1999 as a fundraiser for World Vision and Legacy organised by Adrian Spadaro, with the club then giving the ok to Adrian to run monthly Friday night dances from 21st May 1999.  The first band was the Speedsters, entry was $8.  Little Maria later took over running the dances every fortnight while Adrian continued to run the dance class and social on Wednesday nights.

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Williamstown Town Hall, Renegade Rockers dances unitl Nov. 1998

Yarraville Club, ( 1997 -July 2007 ) Swing n Rock Roz & DJ Antony, Thursday nights, later CRAFT club rockers Sarah, Mid 2007 - Oct 2013.  Swing n Rock Reunion held July 2016, 2017, 2018