History of Rock n Roll Dancing in Melbourne

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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

Rockin Richard Lewis

Posted by [email protected] on June 23, 2019 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Pitrones -  Played there lots. Was a fabulous venue with huge dance floor and grouse food. Miss it. After Tony Pitrone sold the venue, he ran Chelsea town hall/rsl. We used to play at Chesea town hall in the early 90s,another great venue. Joe Imbezi, Tonys business partner, ran the dances at the Lilydale International. At Box Hill RSL, I played there with my band ROCKIT on new years eve 1999. It was weird because they were so worried about the big Y2K scare, that we had to start early and finish by 11pm and be out of the club by 11.30! We packed the gear quickly after the gig and went to the top of Doncaster Shoppingtown to watch the fireworks over Melbourne at midnight!���� Richard Lewis.

Coral Johnson remembers

Posted by [email protected] on June 22, 2019 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I loved Box Hill RSL dances on friday nights, I went every week! Great bands played there, that's going back about 20-25 yrs (mid 1990's?).  I also learnt line dancing there with teachers Irene & Tom Amos.  Great fun times!.  I met my very special friend Marci there @ line dancing and also my mate George. Lovely happy times.

Judith Ann Cross

Posted by [email protected] on June 9, 2019 at 12:20 AM

Judith Ann Cross

I attended Mordi Rock dance classes at the same time as Bruce and Pat. Bruce was my first dance partner. We won one dance comp at Let's Rock in June 1992, then he moved on to Pat. My new dance partner then became Shane (can't remember his surname). He then married his fiance! Paolo Morasco was a regular at Rockhouse. I eventually became a judge at Rockhouse, one of 3 or 4. Each judge had to concentrate on one area only. My speciality was "timing". They were great times. Have lots of memories of those days but they are buried deep in my subconscious (life gets in the way!!)

Jocelyn's memories

Posted by [email protected] on March 21, 2019 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I first stumbled on the rock n roll dance scene in 2004.  I was asked to dance at our local club by James Wing, who had come along to watch a band called Shindig.  James taught myself and 3 girlfriends how to do a couple of basic rock n roll moves and told us about the dance lessons at the Waltzing Matilda hotel in springvale. He also showed us a copy of the Rock n Roll News, opening our eyes to the rock n roll dance scene.  We were all excited to learn that there was somewhere we could go to learn to dance, so the next week we went along to the "Waltzy" and started lessons with Glenis Boyd's Southside Rockers.  That became a regular girls night out every Tuesday and Sunday night for the next 2 years.  Our husbands came a few times but weren't interested in dancing, - I think they were secretly pleased to have a night at home in charge of the TV remote.

It wasn't long before we heard about "Little Marias" dance at the Whitehorse Club with a live band, and we soon became regulars there until Maria closed down in 2013.  Devastated at loosing our regular fortnightly dance I pursuaded Milton and Sue from Flipside music trivia into having a go at running a rock n roll dance.  The Flipside dance at the Hungarian Club was born, running twice a month for 5 years until it sadly closed at the end of 2018. In 2012 I created a website for Adrian's Rd Hot Rockers Dance classes and have continued to update it ever since, helping promote the dance classes and rock and roll. In 2018 when Adrian retired from teaching I took over running Sunday nights at Chatham with Charles Spiteri.  In 2010 I organised a rock n roll flash mob dance in the city and again in 2012 at Doncaster Shoppingtown, to promote rock and roll.

Over the years I've enjoyed dance lessons from Glenis at Southside Rockers, Graeme and Heather at Sylvester Swingers, Pat Noakes at Swing Central, Adrian Spadaro at Red Hot Rockers, Lou, Lynette and Graeme at Top Cats, Andy Zammit at Andy's Cats, Jon Hannon at Alley Cats, Swing Patrol, Rusty at Ashburton Swing, as well as several other one off classes and numerous workshops and festivals.  All of the teachers have put lots of effort into spreading their love of dance and helping their students to learn new moves.

Some of the places I've enjoyed dancing socially at include : the Waltzy, Whitehorse Club, Heritage in Epping, Sunshine City Club, Springvale RSL, Dandenong Workers, Cheltenham RSL, Dandenong RSL, Mordi Rock, Mentone RSL, Mitcham RSL, East Malvern RSL, Bentleigh RSL, West Coburg Bowls, Alley Cats Sunshine and Lilydale dances, Flipside, Little Maria's, Clayton RSL, Eddies Bandroom, Highett Bowls, Linda's dances, Swing on High...

Over the past 15 years I've met lots of wonderful people, travelled to suburbs I'd never heard of, danced to many wonderful bands and had a great time.  I've also sadly said goodbye to many characters who have passed away.  We are so lucky to have great dance teachers, bands and dance promoters who are willing to take a risk at putting on dances for our enjoyment, as well as so many places to dance and hear great music.

I decided last year that it would be worthwhile creating a website to record some of the history of the dance scene so that it doesn't get forgotten.  I hope you enjoy reading people's memories and I hope they keep rolling in so together we can continue to record the stories of Melbourne's rock n roll dancers.

Jocelyn Bloye

March 2019

Big Jive dance competition 1974

Posted by [email protected] on January 7, 2019 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

To promote the release of the movie "American Graffiti " radio station 3UZ held a jive dance competition at Doncaster Shopping Town in 20th April 1974.

Michele Clay Van Sprang entered with her younger brother, with no rehearsal.  The competition was suppose to be on a Friday night but was cancelled and transferred to Saturday afternoon. They entered at the last minute as a joke on the say so of friends that they were good enough to win.

To see video f the competition go to the "History of rock n roll dancing in Melbourne" Facebook page.

Thanks to Michele for photos and information.


Posted by [email protected] on December 25, 2018 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

New Year's Eve Dances & Celebrations 31st Dec 2016

Several gigs were held last night throughout metropolitan Melbourne and in regional Victoria to usher in the New Year for 2017. There was of course fireworks display in the city plus several other places like in Mornington & the Frankston foreshore.

Amongst the bands that played last night were the Straight 8's at DJ Ashley's, The Fender Benders at Rock 'n Suzie, the Vincents at Rye RSL, the Honky Tonk Rockers at Dandy Workers Club plus dances at Adrian's Red Hot Rockers, in Ballarat etc. I went and saw the Jump Devils at the Heritage Tavern in Balnarring and later the Rockin' Daddies playing for Rosebud Rockers on the Mornington Peninsula.

Another big year of rock & roll and rockabilly in 2016 and I expect more of the same again for 2017. The New Year usually kicks off with the National Kustoms hot rod show & rockabilly bands on Phillip Island in January around the same time as the rock & roll festival in Geelong. This is followed by music festivals like Ballarat Beat and Barham's Rock By the River in February. Also in February 2017, we 'll see a new rock & roll/rockabilly music festival, the Shepparton Shakedown, to be staged for the first time and already it is generating a lot of interest. Long standing rock & roll festivals in Ararat, Mulwala, Tallangatta, Hamilton and several other Victorian regional areas no doubt will continue to be held in 2017. However, Greazefest will not be staged in Melbourne this year as well as the Camperdown rockabilly festival although I have heard of news that plans are afoot to stage a replacement festival in Camperdown but we shall see if it comes to fruition.

In terms of dance gigs around Melbourne, I expect DJ Ashley & Leanne at Fast Eddies to continue to draw a good crowd every Sunday night. Ashley & Leanne also run regular monthly dance gigs at the Menzies Hall in Dandenong as well as at Highett Bowls Club. Milton & Sue's Flipside rock & roll dances will be back along with Jonathan & Zoe's Alleycatz dances, Adrian's Red Hot Rockers, Rock 'n Suzie dances as well as dances on the Mornington Peninsula by Rosebud Rockers and the Peninsula Rockers. There are other regular rock & roll dances all over Melbourne plus live bands and dances at Dandenong Workers Club, various RSL clubs, Heritage Tavern and Daveys Bar on the Frankston foreshore. Not forgetting there is also a vibrant live music scene at several city pub venues as well as the Dogs Bar in St Kilda.

In terms of rock & roll dance competitions, this kicks off with the Geelong Rock & Roll festival in February. I understand there is also an "open" dance competition for Shepparton Shakedown. The big ones of course are VRRDA's Victorian rock & roll dance championship as well as Alleycatz $1,000 "shoot out" Melbourne dance competition. Dance competitions are very important in showcasing the competitive side of rock & roll dancing that one does not normally see in social dancing.

No rest for the wicked. Get those dancing shoes polished for another big year ahead of live rock & roll and rockabilly music and dancing all over Melbourne, and in regional Victoria. Keep rockin' everyone!

Jitterbug (Paul Wan) copied with permission from Vicrock.com.au

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.


Tom Amos remembers

Posted by [email protected] on December 21, 2018 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

In 1963 Irene and I attended a 50/50 dance ( Old time and Ballroom) at Box Hill town hall. About halfway through the night the band played " In the Mood" so we could not resist breaking into a swing routine and were promptly approached by the bouncers to cease and desist this style or they would toss us out.  So we left and went on to the Box Hill RSL who had a Rock N Roll band called the Casuals playing. Fun memories.

Tom Amos.

Video clip of Irene and Tom at Two's Company in 1995.

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Tom and Irene Amos competing in the VRRDA Masters at Moorabin Town Hall in 2000

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Carolyn McAlister remembers

Posted by [email protected] on November 13, 2018 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Rockhouse dance comp poster from 1992 and 1993 (see below)

 The first poster Jim and Rhonda won (1992) - I remember because it was my first year dancing and I was amazed at them. The second poster Terri and Andy won. It was always a fun competition.  I remember when the scores were being added up all the competitors would get back on the floor and swap partners for a dance together.

Going by the date, the second poster is from 1993, & it would have been one of the monthly dances - not the final decider held at the end of year. Whoever won the monthly dance then went into the final at the end of the year. I'm not sure who won in that particular month

DJDingo is Jamie and is of course still on the scene but not sure what happened to Renee.

Bruce and Pat still go to Suzies dance and were part of the Mordi rock team.

 Video of Carolyn McAlister and Jason Varga dancing in the Rockhouse dance comp in 1993

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Carolyn McAlister

These Rockhouse posters were hand painted by Len O'Connor (Alive 'n' Kicking band member) and each competitor was given a poster to keep.

Competitors included Chris Black & Adrian Spadaro, Terri Moon & Andy Zammit, Carolyn McAlister & Jason Varga, Jamie and Renee, Cecilia and Lawrence, Barry and Nicki,Sue and John, Mark and Donna, Cowboy Paul and Tiffany, Alister and Carol, Bruce and Pat, Sue and John.