On August 1, 2017, Doreen Dawson, or Ms Dawson as we used to call her, passed away at the age of 100. Ms Dawson and her husband Jack Jones, were our dancing instructors when I was a boarder at Stella Maris College, an all girls school.
On Sunday nights, we would have dancing lessons with the boys from St Patrick’s College. The seniors would come over to Stella Maris and Ms Dawson would teach us to ballroom dancing.
Of course, it was always the pretty and most popular girls who would get picked first. Thankfully, I wasn’t the last!
We learned to dance the waltz, which I loved, the Foxtrot, Quick Step, Cha-Cha, Pride of Erin and many others. One dance that I never learned and wish I had, was the Jive. I see people dance the Jive and I admire them, it looks so cool.
Once a year, we would dress up in our ‘best’ outfits and go to the Railway Institute or St Pat’s College hall for a social night. It was an exciting time in the lead up to the social nights. We’d all make sure we had our hair washed until it shined but we weren’t allowed to wear makeup. Of course, some of us managed to put a little bit on. Imagine telling the teenagers nowadays, that you can’t wear makeup!
I have an entry in my 1971 diary about a dress I bought from Wright’s Fashion Salon to wear to a social. Back in those days, you could book things up to your parents, with their permission of course. The entry reads: “Went down town and rang mum. Said I could get a dress no more than $15. The nice one I got was $17 plus alterations $1. Mum will probably go pop!” The dress ended up being too short, (that was the alterations) or so the nuns said, so I had to borrow a pair of white long pants from one of my friends to wear under it.
It was good to learn dancing and there’s been many a time over the years that I would love to have continued with lessons. When I married Bob, it turned out he was a good dancer and we had some great nights at the Mercantile Club dances. We never did get those extra lessons in though. Might have left that a bit late now!