Twas 1956 and the world was looking to Australia staging the Olympics for the first time.
Postwar, travel, the introduction of the latest “fad” being television, communication and all made for a very exciting time of promise…
Enter couples from all over Australia, practise, dedication and determination.
Olympic year Australasian Ballroom Dance Championships held at Leggett Ballroom in Melbourne.
The town was so crowded and fully booked, the dance community rallied and fellow dancers were billeting interstate travellers to ensure the competition was at its best.
Sunday October 7th 1956
More than one thousand people gathered at Leggets Palladium Ballroom to watch couples from all over Australia compete in the Olympic Championships.
The amateur champion dances were: Barclay Blues, La Bomba, Charmaine,(schottische was the only Charmaine then) Veleta and the Gipsy Tap (as it was often spelt in those days)
Two young Queensland dance couples trained hard for months to win the Amateur Ballroom Dancing Championships on Melbourne
Mr Kelvin Williams and Miss Dell Neal who won the Modern Section and
Mr Noel Bishop and Miss June Cheney who are the Old-Time Champions.
Noel and Junes’ teacher Mr Aubrey Panton said “they came straight from work three nights a week for several hours practise as well as Saturday afternoons and all day Sundays. Often skipping lunch to use the hour off for practice.”
Noel, a salesman and June who worked in the City Council offices, had in the 15 months prior to the Championships, won 18 major prizes in Queensland and Interstate dancing competitions.
Mr Panton recalled in his memoirs: “It was 11.30 at night on the 7th October 1956, my phone rang and it was my wife Dal who was with the Queensland group in Melbourne for the Olympic Championships. All she kept saying was “We have won, we have one, Noel and June have won!” Suffice to say I was a very happy and contented person when I went back to bed, Noel and June were “our couple”
The Amateur Old-Time runners-up were B Lamb and J Healy
Mr Williams and Dell Neal who were trained by J “Sandy” Robertson, went straight from work at 5 o’clock to practise until 11:30 for months on end.
and so treasured a win that the actual scorecard has been kept in as is condition along with the sash, the medal alas however, did not stand the test of time..
The Professional titles were won by Victorian couples:
Mr Kevin Gibson and Shirly Saunderson – Modern and
Mr Jim Fahey and Terry Mather for Old-time
Like so many treasures, as time goes by, photos fade as do memories, so whatever treasures you have, from whatever era, in whatever condition, please don’t let them be lost. You are the story of Australian Dance History.