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Boom! Where Did It Come From?

By Jim Vickers-Willis

We were a young married couple with a mortgage who, in addition, had two babies born who had set up world medical history - and required many operations.

Just after the World War, people no longer stood around the piano and sang or recited as they had done in pre-war days - and there was an entertainment vacuum; we were too "sophisticated" for that old stuff! Mostly we just stood around at parties and talked and drank. Then in swept square dancing!

One night at a square dance party in our home, one of our friends (who always brought half a dozen bottles of beer in the boot of his car) forgot to go out and get them all night. He was so busy enjoying himself square dancing! This impressed us. We were also impressed with the fact that it was a clean, healthy, good-fun type of entertainment in which people let their hair down, and really enjoyed themselves. I became a caller and my wife a fine dancer, who later became the "number one" lady in our exhibition set. After running small dances for charities with just a few squares, plus an article I wrote in the main daily paper, we were invited one afternoon to do an audition at a large ballroom which was planning a big promotion with radio backing. The other caller who was auditioning for the job "called" the dance to an empty hall in front of these ballroom and radio executives. When I came on to the stage with my band, scores of square dancers who had heard about our audition came in from the darkened lobby and formed up sets in front of the stage - all clad in colourful Western outfits.

They stamped and clapped and, after they had danced, we invited the ballroom and radio executives to join in the sets - and I taught them all to square dance! Soon they were clapping and stamping, too. We were in - and it went on from there until I was calling square dancing for 1,000, then 2,000 people per night in Melbourne, and 4000 in Adelaide. The boom went on for 2 years and caused some picture theatres to close. There were scores of callers, millions for charities. Then I contracted polio and entered an iron lung. Seven of my radio square dance programs were taken off the air in one week.

We hope you and your family get great value from the square dancing resources available from this site. Our 80 minute "Square Dance at Home" recording plus illustrated guide, includes all you need to run your own square dance with family and friends in your own home - just the way we started the boom in the 1950s. Get a unique square dance themed party going at your place - you only need 8 people to get started.

Our best wishes to you in your efforts to create more happiness in your life.


Jim Vickers-Willis


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For further information on Australia's rich square dance heritage, we recommend you visit our section titled Australian 1950's Square Dance Archive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Square Dance - Bill McGrath with Jim's Exhibition Set

Beth & Peter Tidex ducking under the
Exhibition Sets arch, plus caller Bill McGrath

Square Dance - Beth Vickers-Willis Demonstrating a Left Allemande
Jim's Square Dance Exhibition Set
with Jim's No.1 Lady - wife Beth

Australian Square Dancing
CD ROM


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Other multi-media resources:

Click here to listen to Jim chatting to Peter Bech on Radio 98.1 FM about how he and the square dancing boom got started in Australia - recorded on 23 June, 2004 (10min05sec).


Listen to CALLERS of the BOOM!
Jack Murphy, Eddie Carol, Joe Lewis, Bill McGrath, Leonard Hurst, Irene Hewitt, Wally Cook, Graham Rigby, Lloyd Shaw & Gary Cohen


Click Here To Visit Jim's On Line Square Dancing Links

Links to Square Dancing Sites


 

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