The history of the Perth rock'n'roll Club
The Perth rock'n'roll Club (Club) consistently provides Western Australia with well organised and supported rock'n'roll activities. When the Club was first formed, some 14 years ago, there were few rock'n'roll events, venues and bands.
Today, this not-for-profit community organisation runs an average of 10 rock'n'roll events a year. These events cater for rock'n'roll aficionados alongside dancers of various styles, some who dance the style they did in the 1950s.
The late Shirley Head founded the Club from an idea at a record hop in September 1985. Original founding members included Tony Ing, the current treasurer and one of two life members, Les Dixon and Ron Miller, who went on to form Snake Pit Promotions to revive the Snake Pit days, and Trevor Hawkins, a musician who still forms bands to perform at Club dances.
The Club was formed as a social club for the enjoyment and promotion of 1950s rock'n'roll music and dance forms. In 1985 and for many years later there was no other avenue to explore these exciting and rebellious forms.
Social gatherings were originally held at members house's, the first public meeting was held at Kings Park in October 1985 which was attended by 30-40 people. The Club's first financial member was Tony Ing on 11 January 1986.
Record hops were the Clubs first open to the public music and dance events. Next were members only dances. The bands for the dances were made-up from professional musicians who were, and still are, Club members. They supported the Club by performing for free, allowing the dance to run without a cover charge.
The first open to the public dance was held as a fundraiser for Appealathon at the Manning Hotel on 23 March 1986. Jive for Appealathon raised $500. The band that night was the now defunct Rock and Roll Show Band, they had been around for 10 years in 1986, however had great trouble getting public gigs as the hotels were no-longer supporting rock'n'roll.
The Club's first dance on its own was held at the Grenville Hall on
11 April 1987, the band Due West was formed specifically for the dance.
They later went on to be known as Memphis Sun.
The Club has been successful in supplying an opportunity for Perth's musicians wishing to play rock'n'roll music and at the same time giving dancers a regular opportunity to strut their stuff in a fun and safe environment.
Since the Club's creation it has supported events held by others interested in supporting rock'n'roll. Snake Pit revival dances came about from a Club members idea and venture into the promotions industry. John Dubber's first dance was held in conjunction with the Club on 12 October 1991. John has since been successful in holding regular dances in conjunction with 6NR. Presley Promotions dances were also well supported by the Club.
Others supported include our friends RTRFM and 6NR. The Club also supports
some charitable organisations, the criteria does not include a preference
for rock'n'roll music!
Rockabilly is another scene which lost support from hotels as they closed or changed their form of entertainment. The Club has a strong Rockabilly following, most are in a younger age group and carry the style and attitudes that only they can. The young Rockabilly's support the Club with their attendance at Club events. In return some Club dances have been the first public appearances of Rockabilly bands such as the Howlin' Moondoggies, The Rhythm Aces, and The Daltons.
The Club's innovation not only lies in dances and encouraging news bands. Other events include an annual river cruise complete with a live band, mystery bus cruises, bowling nights, Jail House Rock, a celebration of Elvis' 1950s music on the 20th anniversary of his death, Prom Night, and a huge Christmas dance with special gifts for members. Dances also include give-aways such as rock'n'roll CDs, stickers and stubbie holders.
Each Club event is welcomed with anticipation by members and non-members alike of varying ages. People who may consider themselves dancers, some rockers, others who think the 1950s was the only time for music and dance.