I did not need to research the gala balls in my series of Outback novels. It was the event where couples met and fell in love….
Dancing was part and parcel of life in rural Australia and nothing really changed for years with the dress code in the country halls. Men wore their suits and the women their full length gowns and long white gloves. Their were no baby sitters for couples with children who came along too and eventually fell asleep on the canvas seats pushed to the back of the hall which doubled as the picture theatre. The charity balls in my Outback series were the real thing. The music of the country bands will stay in my heart always. This is a description taken from the second novel of the trilogy:
The music continued with the nimble fingers of the piano player never tiring, transforming a keyboard into tunes that made the dancing couples sway and swing. The drummer never missed a beat and the violin player was a maestro of harmony who made his instrument croon to the melodies of the gifted pianist. The melodious contribution of the saxophone added the extra quality that set the country dance band apart from any other in the district.
And this is a scene from the thrid novel where the young people are into rock and roll:
Ruth sat tapping her feet. Rock was her speciality, after Professional Ballroom, which had been her ardent passion for the past couple of years. The truth was, she loved all dancing. She didn’t want to think of a life without moving her body to the beat of music.
She soon had a partner. Her feet were quicksilver to the magic of the beat and her body was twirling, and spinning, rotating and whirling like nothing the locals had seen. The boys were tapping her partners on the shoulder, one after the other until finally there was one who could do justice to the jollity and liveliness of the rollicking beat. Ruth laughed with pure delight at the young man with the shock of longish blond hair that kept falling into his blue eyes. He had a slim, taunt body that gyrated and twisted with every move, his feet tapping and rapping to the speed of the beat. He pulled her though his legs and flipped her over his shoulder. The crowd went crazy. They were soon doing a solo on the dance floor with the whole hall standing in a circle clapping in time to the boisterous, jaunty music.
When the music stopped, they fell laughing into the nearest seats. Ruth looked at him properly for the first time. He was just a kid, seventeen at the most. ‘Where did you learn to dance like that?’ she asked.’
‘More to the point, where did you learn to dance like that, and where do you come from? I’ve never seen you around here before?’
‘Oh, I’m from around here all right.’ Still pumped from the dancing, her eyes were shining, sparkling gems. She completely forgot her reserve in that moment not to reveal her identity.........
Dancing is returning to our lives again on the television set with shows like Dancing with the Stars which bring back memories of beautiful gowns and astonishing music which country people accomplished with very little cost. Every family had a dressmaker – most families had a musician. Dancing, music and dressing for the occasion was part and parcel of country life in rural Australia.
And it is indeed magical when boy meets girl for the first time on the dance floor, and more magical still when Love is in the Air. That is how I met my husband.
Australian Period Dramas - Each a love story like no other.