I started dancing when I was 15 years old in 1969 with Ron Mennie’s St. Peters Square Dance Club in Box Hill in Victoria. Living in the outer Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne transport and entertainment was not easy to come by, so with my parents and brother we were convinced to give Square Dancing a try. I began ‘trying’ to call with my brother when Ron Mennie ‘gave us a go’ at a St Peters Square Dance Club night in late 1971. In the same year (or early 1972), a new club opened in East Ringwood, Victoria run by Allan Droscher from Mildura called Eastern Eights.
This club was closer to home and Allan continued to allow me to ‘have a call’. I remember on my 18th birthday having a caller training session at Allan’s home, all this was a ploy to keep me away from a surprise birthday party that had been planned. In June1975 Allan announced that he could no longer run the club and that I would be taking over. Although in shock at the time a new club was born. In July 1975 C-City Squares commenced in Croydon Victoria and continued to operate until October 1997. During this time I also operated a Plus Club – Red Hot Plus on Thursday nights in Kilsyth, Victoria.
C-City Squares was where I first meet my wife Christine and we were married in 1979. Without Christine working hard behind the scenes our clubs would not have been as successful as they were. We now have 3 children who still live in Melbourne. The eldest two were part of a demonstration at the Broadmeadows National Convention held in 1991 dancing to What a Wonderful World. One of the great features at the club was the number of children that we taught to dance. The club ran a child minding service which enabled young family couples to attend. The part I enjoyed the most was teaching new dancers and seeing them years later as experienced dancers. In the 1970’s Victoria had two caller associations, the VSDA’s Callers Advisory Panel (CAP), which I was a member and the Square Dance Society of Victoria. These were the days that Victoria had two State Conventions.
A memorable night was when we ventured down to the Sunnyside club run by Ron & Ella Whyte for the first time. Ron without hesitation lent me a hand full of records (I only had about 6-8 of my own at that stage), so that I could provide more variety at my club. This I will never forget as it contributed largely to keeping us involved in the activity. We continued to visit Ron & Ella and even learnt rounds at Wickham Lodge, (yes, I did learn to dance rounds contrary to popular belief).
In the early days it was difficult for young callers to get on a State Convention program. Chris and I started going to SA State Conventions and were made very welcome by the convention committee and S.A. Callers. I owe a lot of thanks to Jeff Seidel and Don Muldowney who put me on the program and assisted in my development as a Caller. I ended up going to the SA State Conventions for over 15 years in a row, each one has a different fond memory.
In 1997 after much deliberation we closed C-City Squares to concentrate on family priorities. After several years Chris and I started to visit local clubs, at this stage I vowed that I would never call again. After some prompting by (cannot remember which one got to me first), Janice Alexander or Mike Davey I picked up the microphone again and got the adrenalin flowing. After this I filled in for club callers who needed a replacement, this included JB Wheelers & Essendon Square Dance Clubs.
In 2011 we decided to have a sea change and I was offered a position in Port Macquarie. Having trouble finding a nearby club to dance at, and having been approached by several local dancers we decided to take the plunge and open a Square Dance Club in Port Macquarie. We have just commenced a learner’s class and with a lot of luck will be able to get some more people involved from the local area. The best thing about Square Dancing is the people you meet. We are still surprised that after being out of the activity for some time it is just as if we had never left.
With our move to NSW we have met many dancers and callers that have made us feel very welcome. Although things seem to work a bit different from State to State we are slowly getting the hang of how the activity works within NSW. Port Macquarie is a great place to live and we are eagerly awaiting the direct flights from Port Macquarie to Melbourne so that we can visit our children and new grandchild on a more regular basis.
Summary of Highlights.
The Young Ones. The highlight that stands out the most is by far my involvement with The Young Ones. When approached by the S.A. State Convention Committee to be feature Callers it provided a new lease of life to my calling lifespan and a start to some great memories. To call with three of Australia’s top callers, Howard, Mike and Peter was and is a great privilege. Not only did we all cater for different geographic areas of Melbourne but we all have different styles and calling traits that worked well together. This combined with us all being around the same age, wife’s/partners all got on well, all had children around the same ages, resulted in our long practice sessions being great fun as well as hard work. This time of my calling career I will never forget.
VSDA State Convention. -- Attending Victoria’s first VSDA State Convention at Warburton in 1970.
National Convention. The first National Convention I attended was in Adelaide in 1974. I can still remember walking into the hall and hearing a young Steve Turner in action.
Doing two demonstrations at National Conventions – a very young set in Broadmeadows dancing to What a Wonderful World (1991) and Performing a Quadrille demonstration at the Melbourne Showgrounds Convention (1983). Publicity Officer for the Melbourne National Convention held at Broadmeadows in 1991.
VCA -- Program Manager for Victorian State Conventions and other VSDA functions.
I held executive positions with the Victorian Callers Association, including President.
Being able to attend 15+ (lost count), S.A. State Conventions.
I was appointed to the ACF Board in1989 as a Victorian representative and served as Treasurer for a number of years.
Since being in Port Macquarie we have met many local dancers that have been of great assistance in helping to set up a viable Square Dance Club and with their ongoing support the future looks bright for the club to flourish over time. Dancers come along to dance for many reasons and we hope to provide a friendly club that people enjoy coming along too. As callers we can supply the facilities, music and calling but it is the people that make Square Dance Clubs what they are.
Until we meet on the floor, happy dancing.