Max Ricks Recollections - Cherry Gardens Monthly Dances

After the opening of The Cherry Gardens Hall in 1956, it was decided to hold regular monthly dances as a fund raiser. It was suggested at the opening day Ball that we would need to hire dance bands to provide music, instead of using Mrs Cliff Frith on piano and Lester Jones on accordion.

These local people had played regularly for local functions. So the Green and Gold Band from Strathalbyn played at the next dance held a month after the opening.

A good crowd attended, but we had a problem with dust rising from the hall floor, brought in from the dirt surroundings from outside. A band member suggested that we prepare the floor the day before by spreading sawdust, which had been dampened with Kerosene, and drag lightly weighted hessian bags over the floor. This collected any dust which left the jarrah floor clean and shiny. We used commercial Floor Speed preparation to add polish, which conditioned the floor well for dancing. There was no shortage of help from the local young people who had much fun dragging a companion sitting on the hessian bags.

The monthly dances continued to attract good crowds.

We used several different bands to provide the music, usually 3 piece comprising of piano, saxophone and drums. Among the bands that played at different times at the Cherry Gardens Dances were the Green and Gold from Strathalbyn, The Barney Fry Group from Echunga, and Adelaide bands, The Jack Stone Trio, The Harmoniques, and the Jack Stone Group, and The Starlights. Those who compered at the dances were Caleb Terrell, Bill Robertson, Barney Fry, Max Ricks, and John Terrell.

We had an annual Spring Ball in September, and always a New Year’s Eve Ball.

Special occasions such as The Belle of the Ball, and the presentation of Debutantes on a number of occasions were real highlights of the dance program. The ladies of the district provided an excellent supper for each dance, which was shared by all by using tray mobiles filled with specially decorated cakes, sandwiches and cups of tea wheeled among the crowd at supper time. We also had a sweet stall in the foyer, and a cool drink refrigerator for the convenience of patrons.

The dances were attended by people who came from many surrounding districts, with many couples and families coming from Adelaide, and enjoying the casual and sober nature of our dances. The average attendance was about 200 per evening. The Cherry Gardens old style monthly dances continued regularly for about 20 years, and raised much needed finance for the Hall and other societies of the district.