This boy, who lived in Bunnerong Road, just around the corner, from where we lived in Flint Street, Matraville (now Hillsdale), took me to Bob Potter’s Dance studio, one Saturday morning – for something to do.
He never went again. I hung around there for the next eight years or so!
It must have been about 1957. Perhaps January of that year and have dropped in on Mrs Dot Potter a number of times, in recent years.
It is still such a pleasure to see her.
I wasn’t built for ballroom dancing.
I’m convinced you need to be reasonably thin, if not tall.
I do like to think that I had rhythm as they say.
and the Saturday morning children’s dancing classes were such good fun.
In those early years, I walked the five or so kilometres, happily every Saturday morning and lined up with the others, at the entrance of the studio, which was reached through a narrow passageway between shops and up some stairs.
I heard that in earlier years people used to queue up from the street, through that passage-way and up the stairs.
By the time I went, the hey-days were past, although, as I was later able to see so well depicted in the movie, Strictly Ballroom, competition between various studios was still strong.
I still remember, a little embarrassed that, after the class, after walking home, to the old house, in Flint Street, where the four adults had spent the morning washing clothes and cleaning up, I used to bore them with very excited stories about what fun I’d had again.
As I’ve told so often, I hung around so much, that Dot Potter got into the habit of introducing me to people, as her third son.
I also like to credit Bob Potter with giving me practical ideas on how to run a class.
In those latter years I was attending teachers college, down in Wollongong, during the week. Helping out at Potter’s, on the Saturday morning, getting in for free because of being used as a kind of tutor, for the simple steps, was so good!
I’d also begun to accompany Bob to little (scouts or community-) halls around Sydney, like in Randwick, Cronulla and Panania (I now live not far from Panania.) And soon le’d just let me go and take those classes. They were quite small.
Always the same routine:
Progressive barndance and one or two other simple progressive dances, to get them mixing; talking, relaxing.
Then some simple steps for the rhythm dance, or jazz waltz, cha-cha, etc., and then finish again with progressive dances, in the circle.
Always finishing up with the can-can polka and / or the march o’ the mods!
(Bring back memories?)
The classes, in the halls out in the other suburbs were held, in early evening and attended by teenagers and a little older.
I’m realising that summing up my involvement with Bob, Dot, Douglas, Robert and Lynette, is going to take more than a few pages.
Let’s call this: Part 1. To be continued.
FOOT-NOTE to this Part 1:
Have had some very pleasant contacts (reliving the past. Some not so good!!), as a result of writing this.
Most recent is contact with Leeann Emery, who attended Bob Potter’s Studio, roughly in my time. Phillip, as she was then, did dance serious competition and tells me she was good friends with Douglas Potter, in those days.
Leeann has been looking for a class-mate from the Maroubra Bay High School days, Philip Comino. As yet, no success!
Can you help?
I have this theory that, when I became a teenager, I adopted this other family, the Potters, like most teenagers do, spreading wings and seeing how other families do things.
Waiting outside Potter’s Dance Studio for the children’s class.
(~Freckles and reddish hair. Could never resist.~)