Social Intercourse amongst the Dagos and Reffos

We know there was always some kind of town or village center where people used to meet up, mingle and gossip. The old water-well did not always contain the bodies of the missing loved ones, more likely to hold endless tales of folklore and the latest news, perhaps spiced with the regaling of the latest sexual maneuverings amongst the libidinous of the village… It has always been like that!

In the larger towns and cities it was the square in front of the cathedral or market place where the same was served to keep the locals in contact with each other. Look at Pieter Bruegel’s paintings. The dalliances of the locals together at town’s centers could never be told with any more precision. The kicking up of heels during the 1530’s has, as far as I know, never been surpassed since. Even Michael Jackson’s Moon-Walk pales into a rather limp expression of a dance. Talk about dancing, whatever happened to those mirrored balls suspended from ceilings spitting glitter around the dancers? Has it all gone into the pails of history?

In the 1960’s one of the best places to pick up a sheila, was Trocadero in George Street, Sydney. There was a strict protocol. The slightest whiff of alcohol and you were barred. There were special men,  trained connoisseurs of breaths, reputedly able to detect, with great precision, the difference between a sprinkle of Eau De Cologne and a lager. The odour disguishing help of peppermints was always a trick that only worked towards the end of the evening when the alcohol had worked itself out of the system, at that stage; everything gets a bit limp anyway. The only beverage available, once broken through the cordon of breath sniffers, and finally inside that Mecca for picking up sheilas, was a generous supply of, (another Australian icon on par with the Victa lawnmower) Fanta orange drink.

Alas, even Fanta is now foreign owned together with the Victa. In China they have built an entire high rise city of 150.000 people totally geared towards the manufacturing of Hills Hoists. This city is called “happy clothes dryers-“快樂布烘乾線 “After 2 years of hard work, employees receive a free Victa, after 20 years a much revered free Hills Hoist. I remember digging out a concrete lump that surrounded the base of the hoist, a job I would now not be able to do anymore. How the years creep up in all those little things that one used to do and so much enjoy.

Meanwhile back at the Trocadero in the fifties and sixties, the picking up of sheilas was a serious Saturday evening pursuit well worth foregoing the alcohol. The only snag during that period was the oversupply of men. There were all those sturdy muscled miners from Finland, dazzling blond hair all shiny and brilliantined up and expert tango dancers. I’ll never forget those cane cutters from Queensland, many from fascinating East European backgrounds called ‘reffos’.  The competition for a dance was fierce, feudalistic amongst the men, often on a knife’s edge. My rather lanky figure in Julius Marlow shod feet had to compete with those and the (less popular but infinitely better looking Dean Martin’s look-alikes) swarthy Italians and Creeks, called “dagos”. I was occasionally successful with the business of Sheila picking-up but always looked forward to the Fanta as well.

One made the best of what was available.

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