Monday Memories: Let’s Dance

Free image from Pixabay

During the A to Z challenge a few of my genimates wrote about their early memories – childhood and growing up. They were lots of fun to read and inspired lots of conversation with their readers.

Inspired by their theme, I’ve decided to start a Monday Memories meme where I’ll write odd memory snippets of my own. If anyone else wants to join in that would be great fun.

Last night I watched the 1992 Aussie movie, Strictly Ballroom, which evoked memories of the main enthusiasm from my teen years, ballroom and Latin dancing. Of course I also can’t watch a paso doble without thinking of Torvill and Dean’s inimitable 1984 performance in Sarajevo (good grief, that’s 32 years ago!).

Ballroom dancing
In your dreams Pauleen. Image from NAA Accession # 2004/00287481

Anyway back to a much lesser performer…in my mid-teens about Sub-Senior (year 11), Mum took me to Wrightson’s Dance Studio in the Valley (Fortitude Valley) for ballroom dance classes. I guess it was probably to prepare me for school formals (aka proms in the US) and for the future. The studio was upstairs in Wickham Street between Gotha and Gipps Streets about opposite the K2 shop today. This was pretty much my everyday “turf” as it was close to where I went to school. The traffic now is usually very busy and parking impossible, so I don’t have a chance to see if the building itself is still there. Orchard’s Dance Studio was just round the corner and I have no idea why mum chose one over the other.

In the beginning Mum would come with me to supervise – I don’t recall if she was the only parent there but I can’t imagine, in retrospect, that it improved my image any. One of my high school friends, who lived nearby, came to the studio with us at least some of the time. I remember when she came back from school holidays in Papua New Guinea and brought me my first bottle of French perfume (Jean Patou?). I have no recollection of what it was called perfumebut she turned me into a perfume snob at 17 and I still have the gorgeous little bottle.

Wrightson’s had quite a few instructors and we danced mostly with them, interspersed with other learners. We learned the waltz and the quickstep (of course) and looking back I find it astonishing that Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes-Catholic-girl didn’t go into a faint at being in a hip-lock during the dances.

Overall I much preferred the Latin components of cha-cha, rumba and samba. The jive we learned was very structured as well as fast and was great fun. We were also introduced to the other dances of the day like the Twist and the Hucklebuck (none of the youTubes videos are how we danced it). I have no photos from those dancing times – these days we’d be facebooking phone shots all the time.

Medal test DancingOver the years various friends would come along with me, but few lasted for long, apart from a childhood friend from my neighbourhood. I was rather devastated when the only great (male) dancer I knew from Wrightson’s – six feet tall and good looking, not only took up with my five-foot-tall friend but then later joined the priesthood. Seriously?! For a very brief period one Christmas holidays I dated one of the instructors – ironically one I didn’t dance well with. A couple of times we went dancing at Cloudland which made a change from doing exams there. He took me to the instructor’s Christmas party and my eyes nearly popped out of my head…there was lots of amorous activity and I was such an unworldly person in those days.

Throughout my uni years, dancing became even more part of my life and during holidays or less busy periods I would be at Wrightson’s three or more times a week. No wonder I was fit, between that and walking everywhere. I got my bronze medal and the comments reveal something of my uptight  A-type obsessiveness. (where has that paperwork, and my medal, gone??) Nevertheless I loved dancing and that experience remains among my fondest teen memories.

How ironic that I would marry someone who doesn’t/can’t dance, despite his myriad good features, we moved to Papua New Guinea and I never went back to Wrightson’s again. C’est la vie.


19 thoughts on “Monday Memories: Let’s Dance

  1. I’m so envious. I think I inherited my father’s genes. He just didn’t dance. Full stop. My mother liked to dance so had a dancing partner. My grandmother was there too so it was all above board, apparently. Although I had a bit of fun in the bush dancing era (1980s) I was never comfortable on the dance floor. You sound as though you had a lot of good times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We did ballroom dancing as part of our gym classes in high school.
    What about ballet lessons when you were smaller? I did those too. So did my daughter but no sign of ballroom dancing for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve made me think Anne…we didn’t do gym but did we practice at school before the formal? apparently I want to ballet/tap when I was very small and just didn’t take to it. My eldest daughter did a couple of years ballet but not the others….no ballroom either, but they all love to dance informally.


  3. I have always loved dancing but Mr GeniAus has two left feet. My limp is as the result of slipping on a grape on a dance floor when dancing with a friend’s husband many years ago. Since shattering my ankle and having a dodgy replacement I have become a wallflower. It’s a shame because every Friday for my five years of secondary school the nuns prepared us for life on the dancefloor. We had ballroom dancing lesssons in the school hall with an ancient couple whose name escapes me. My poor friend and partner Leonie had to be the boy (for five years) because she was taller than I. After leaving school I used often go to Potter’s Dance Studio lessons at a (Masonic?) Hall in The Spot at Randwick and of course until I was married I was a regular at the Randwick CYO dances on a Sunday evening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Birds of a feather Jill though I’m pleased to miss out on the limp and grape slip. MR Cassmob has two left feet too, or perhaps two right given he’s a leftie. I long ago reconciled myself (sort of) to hit dancing…after all it’s his only real “lapse” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What wonderful memories Pauleen. You have inspired me to write about my own dancing childhood! Though I attended ballet, tap and Irish dancing lessons and I didn’t win any medals. And sadly to say, I never saw the inside of Cloudland although I have photos of my mother at dances there in her youth. I’ve often wished I had made the effort to visit it before it was demolished. A most interesting post! Who’d have known you were a dancing medalist! Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sharn it was just a medal test like doing a piano exam…no big deal. I wish I had happier memories of Cloudland – I did several Uni exams there and at the wool pavilion and I’ve only just remembered I went to the Anglican Ball there. Don’t think I have a photo of the venue…just Cinderella 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Now I know what you were planning, Pauleen! A great idea and I shall be joining in. I love dancing – as a spectator, and Strictly Come Dancing is high on my list of “must watch”. TV viewing. Ballet remains my favourite art form – next week I am off to Edinburgh to see Scottish Ballet’s new production of “Swan Lake”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll be glad to see you join in Sue…doesn’t have to be the same theme as mine, just whatever memories come to mind. Have a fab time at the ballet…and in Edinburgh…I’m more jealous of the latter to tell the truth 🙂


  6. Just loved this post! It’s important to document our own lives, too, as part of our family history storytelling…and what a fabulous story! My dance life began early in a storefront studio during elementary school, but I still thank my parents for the lessons and recitals because I have continued to social dance all my life. Bravo for a wonderfully entertaining post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Molly, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post. Isn’t it great that you have been able to continue dancing all your life, it’s a happy way to keep fit and have fun. Pauleen


  7. I am so envious of anyone who can dance – I have two left feet and terrible coordination and my dance career consisted of six months of ballet classes aged 4. Ironically my two elder daughters were both dancers (ballet, jazz, tap, the lot!) and my youngest now wants to take up dance classes again after a couple of years doing karate. My husband is even worse at dancing than I am as he has no sense of rhythm whatsoever. I love the idea of Monday Memories and look forward to reading more and to joining in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Look forward to reading your posts! I feel about singing like you do about dancing…it is just beyond me to sing beautifully, or very much at all these days.


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