With the Phyllis Bates ‘academy’ dance lessons firmly tucked under my arms I was ready and willing to go and practise for the first time my dancing without the pre-painted dance-steps on a floor. An Austrian Waltz was the last one I was taught. At one stage I came close to losing the book held between us. I had to place my leg (just one) between both the lovely teacher’s legs and do a majestic sweep of one hundred eighty degree turn while holding my chin proudly upwards and sideways. I had at the same time hold both my right arm and her left arm stretching out towards Central Railway. I did not want to press, or move anything inappropriately while in that delicate but intimate position. I feared that some excitement might finally show but with my Reuben Scarf suit and generously billowing trousers I was somewhat reassured that nothing would betray even this possibility. In any case my concentration was focussed on the firm pushing Of Human Bondage book held between us.
I was informed about a dance club on Parramatta Rd near Sydney’s Strathfield. Readers might remember the salesman that sold me the Ford V8 also came from that area. He might well turn up at the same place. The place was called Vic’s Cabaret but like the word ‘academy’ it was another case of the misuse of words imbued with more than what was actually there. I remember being fascinated by ‘Palm Beach’ when still back in Holland before the migration episode. The map of Sydney had ‘Palm Beach’ on it. I used to lay in bed conjuring up waving palm trees and could not wait to see those. It was a B/W news-reel back in the winter cold of The Hague with natives on tropical islands sipping cool drinks from coconuts underneath beckoning palm trees. After migration I went to Palm Beach on my scooter. Not a single palm tree in sight! Now, I always thought that cabaret was a bit more than a place to dance in even if it included a small band.
Still, Vic’s Cabaret in Strathfield even without it being a true cabaret in a more European sense, was still a good place to start finding a date. Lots of nice girls would be there and it just needed a positive attitude and some extra brylcreme. Having straight hair did not have at that time the same allure as having a bit of a wave. The TV series Seventy Seven Sunset Strip was responsible for millions of young men imitating the forever hair combing hair-wave owning wisecracking rock and roll Kookie character. I tried to get this wave and with enough Brilliantine hope I would also share in the glory of this popular character. Not unlike today with so many young men wanting to be a Bieber clone (or Russell Crowe for the more mature).
The Vic’s cabaret was a short drive from home and after a good wash and polish of the V8 I was ready and took off. I managed to park within a reasonable distance and took good note of where I parked. Most streets looked alike but it helped if one took notice of an unusual feature of where one parked. I took a mental note that the garden next to my car had old white painted rubber tyres around some azaleas. The old tyres were a feature of those times and also kept the weeds out. It was considered a very handy place to put old tyres and often this hint was given in the Garden magazine. It was one of dad’s pet hatreds together with the habits of many elderly ladies painting the hair blue or a bright pink. “I saw a lady in the bus today who had pink hair. ” A famous sentence of my dad still doing the rounds at Christmas time amongst the Oostermans. Dad had great difficulty with adjusting to some odd or strange habits differing from some equally strange habits in his own country. I mean, riding bicycles while wearing a suit, or dipping a raw herring in onions and eating it in full view of pedestrians? All the windows open in full sight of a family eating their dinner?
How strange is that?