The learning of Fox Trot and my V8 Ford.

Ford V8 Singl spinner

Ford V8 Single spinner

Of course with the powder-blue Ford V8 sedan and the family being treated to a few tours around Sydney, thoughts went to try and get to know more about the opposite sex. These were lean times spent with females.  Harking back to the Scheyville migrant camp with the very limited and lonely Polish-pubic- bush peek through the shower partition, the experience had exhausted itself. I decided to take the bull by the horn and take some dancing lessons. I had noticed that in some magazines of  the ‘boy wants to meet girl’ kind (or the reverse), photos of the boys were often taken while nonchalantly leaning with one foot elevated into the door- way of a car.  A photo leaning one footed in the side-car of my motor bike wasn’t all that exciting a prospect for a girl to be taken out in. I mean, on A Roman Holiday the girls rode around on a Vespa but that was a bit different from driving around mute Sydney suburbia and its nodding petunias in an ex-police motor bike, even with a side-car.

The nous for someone with a guttural accent to get to know a girl in a strange country might now have  to include a photo of myself leaning casually in my FordV8.  Even then, I feared it might just not melt the tigers enough to make the butter.  I needed some flair, more oomph, chutzpah even. Before placing an ad in a lonely heart’s magazine I decided to take dancing lessons from Phyllis Bates dancing academy. I had already learnt that the word ‘academy’ was used in Australia with careless abandon.  I mean, that word in Holland meant professors and  Leiden University or an eight year ballet course in Moscow with the Bolshoi. Here an ‘academy’ could be doing Jiu jitsu , car repairs, or jigging about above a Greek milk bar. In any case, this dancing academy offered a booklet of twenty tickets on ‘special’. In the late fifties and sixties, everything was ‘special’. Even a local built car was Holden ‘special’. You did not have much that was sold being ‘not-special.’ The one thing that remained static and fixed, even till now is, that some cheese survived today, is still sold as ‘tasty.’

The flooding of the love-market was heavily tilted towards single bull necked males with strong gnarled horned hands. They were the ones to build the Snowy Mountain’s  Electricity supply scheme, now  redundant; the digging of mines at Mnt Isa, now redundant;  the cutting of sugar cane in hot Queensland, now by giant machines. I thought that by learning to do a nifty fox-trot or even a quick-step I would have an edge over the Queensland cane-cutters and bulky Bulgarians when it came to getting to know a girl with a lovely smile. I duly took the train to Sydney after donning a clean Pelaco shirt, finely ironed by my mother and a smart Reuben- Scarf suit (two for the price of one). I walked to Pitt Street and clambered the stairs up to Phyllis Bates Academy. (above the milk bar) and presented my booklet of twenty tickets After a ticket was ripped out of my booklet I entered a room from which before I could hear a lively tune being emitted. A very nice cone bra encased woman came to me and after introduction told me she would start teach me a fox trot.

‘ Just follow the painted footsteps on the floor’ and ‘I’ll guide you’. Just start one two…one two….I hopped along but could hardly believe a woman was holding me, I mean a real woman!  To think I still had nineteen tickets left. I could hardly contain my pleasure but did notice that most of the dance students were all bulky cane cutter males. The teacher in the meantime said; ‘ you have to hold me in such a way that a book must be firmly held between us and not fall on the floor’. The last thing I wanted for future memories was the misery of unable to even hold the book between me and a female body and suffer the ignominy of a failed book holder while learning the fox trot.

But, where were the girls? So much to come yet.


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21 Responses to “The learning of Fox Trot and my V8 Ford.”

  1. Dorothy Brett Says:

    Gerard You really should be putting all these stories in a book, it would outsell “they,re a wired mob” I’m sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Julia Lund Says:

    I really hope the girls arrive …


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, she did. I took her for a trip to Woy Woy in NSW where there had been a Willy Willy and everything was destroyed. Roofs had blown off and boats onto the land.
      She was very quiet and might have thought I was a bit weird. The V8 had an engine that blew a lot of smoke and her father was so huge and formidable . I was scared.
      ( a Willy Willy is aboriginal for a hurricane or cyclonic whirl storm. It does sound like it, doesn’t it?)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bkpyett Says:

    Love the tension you build; really brings back my dancing class days!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rod Says:

    We were forced to learn dances at school to the strains of an out-of-tune piano played by a PE teacher. Country dances, mostly. None of this trendy foxtrot stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I went to dance once and blocked a drive-way near the dance-hall. As I finished for the evening, the owner of the house came out and said; “right put them up, you bastard”. I manged to calm the situation a bit. I suppose he was fed up with Pride of Erin dancers blocking his drive-way.
      Did you cut a fine figure on the dance floor, Rod?


  5. ThePoliticalVagina Says:

    Ha I remember the Pride of Erin, it felt kind of regal all that toe-ing and bowing. We used to go to dances at the local school of arts hall with a real band and everything and they would sprinkle stuff called ‘pops’ on the floor. Us kids thought it grand, as we skated up and down the hall on it. The progressive barn dance was always a bit dodgy, one ol’ farmer in particular would pull me in waaaay too close (shudder).
    My mum used to work in the factory that made Pelaco shirts before she was married to my dad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the pride of Erin was the only and sure way of getting to dance with giris. They would not refuse because even if they did not chose you at least the next bloke might be a better option. It was touch and go during those early days even if you had a car..The thing was you would not have car ownership printed on your forehead. The trick was to somehow let it be known you did have a car without being too obvious about it.
      It took practise and skill to dance and to get a girl for a date in the future.
      The Pelaco shirt and generous dollops of Brylcreme were also essential.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Carrie Rubin Says:

    My sister-in-law is a professional dancer, and she jokes that guys who go into dance are smart–they’re surrounded by girls who cling to them. Sounds like you were thinking the same, at least for a few lessons, anyway. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Carrie,
      You would have been proud of me!
      I don’t think I used up the full booklet of tickets. I had trouble mastering the Samba. I think there were always so many more single men than girls. The girls also used to dance with each other which was a bit of a reject when I was sitting down on the bench with so many other hopefulls.. Men rarely dance with each other. The teacher was good and I never once allowed the book the fall. The book was ‘of human bondage’ by Maugham.


  7. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Ah, I tried the dance routine. Absolute disaster. The teacher used me as an example of not how to do it. 🙂 –Curt


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Gee Curt,
      I never reached that level of undance skills. Surely you would have done a few swirls?
      I once watched my parents dance at a Dutch Club dance in Australia. Not once did my dad think of turning a swirl or even a semi-swirl. He just walked forward on the floor pushing my mum backwards. I think he was deeply shy.


      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        Imagine, if you will for a moment, Gerard the embarrassment a 14 year old would feel. I walked out of the class and the teacher told me I might as well keep walking because I was going to be expelled from school. –Curt


  8. bkpyett Says:

    Yes, nothing like waltzing with a good dancer!


  9. berlioz1935 Says:

    When I was at the dancing school the teacher pulled me up a couple of times because I danced too close to the girls. He asked me, whether I was engaged to the lady.


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