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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - January 10, 2016

The Dancing Years - Sydney's Lost Dancing History

From 1920s to 1960s Dancing was HUGE in Sydney. It started with jazz and the Charleston and went through the big band era and swing and strict temp dancing and ended with rock and roll and  was killed off by TV and rock concerts

Let's look at two long forgotten ICONS of the Sydney Dancing Years, The Palais Royale and Trocadero.

1 The Trocadero had TWO orchestras in the 30s. How were they different?
  One was an all girl orchestra
2 How did Jim Bendrodt save the Palais Royale from closing in 1931?
  Bet the staff wages and all he owned on a horse called Fire Cracker at Menangle races
3 What was the dance where you bet to be the last couple? how did it work?
  Monte Carlo and you used a pack of cards

Palais Royale - The Royal Hall of Industries opened in 1913 took nine months to build and cost £23,000. The largest exhibition hall in the Southern Hemisphere, it had 5,400 square metres of interior space. The SMH reported that a treasure trove of futuristic exhibits, including motor cycles, insecticides, photographic equipment, jewellery, novelties and musical instruments. In 1919 the building was used as a morgue during the Spanish Flu  Epidemic..

Between ‘Easter Shows’, the building was leased by Jim Bendrodt and became the “Palais Royale” dance hall featuring American dance orchestras, like Frank Ellis and his Californians, in 1923. In 1937 Bendrodt, transformed the Palais Royal into the opulent Ice Skating Palais which featured Canadian figure-skating and ice-hockey stars. He renamed it the Ice  Palais.

Trocadero ("The Troc") was an art deco dance and concert hall in George Street from 1936 and 1971. Frank Coughlan's Trocadero Orchestra and the All Girl Trocadero Band played strict dance tempo so dancers could practise their ballroom skills. It was the most glamorous dance palace in Sydney and held 2,000 people.

The 40s was the era of the big bands and swing music, The jazz waltz, quick-step and slow foxtrot would be played in brackets of three. Vocalists would perform some numbers. Tangos and rhumbas also featured.

Friday Dress Night provided suppers and in the ball season (April to September) Tuesdays and Thursdays were reserved for balls with a two course dinner (main and dessert with coffee) at 10pm described as 'supper'. Other 'Ball' venues were David Jones Auditorium and later the Roundhouse.


Check out Stone the Crows Festival - held at Wagga Wagga - Every Easter

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