Our Club History
The BUSH DANCE & MUSIC CLUB was originally formed in 1979 as the Sandhurst Dance Club (Colonial & Olde Tyme). Sandhurst was the Colonial name and a parish district for Bendigo.
It is a principle aim of the BDMC to promote the material from Colonial Australia through to the popular and social Old Time era of the early 20th century as well as some from the present time. The period following the First World War saw the adoption of the newer Modern and New Vogue ballroom dances of the developing urban community. Prior to that it was far more 'salt of the earth' and communities in the bush thrived with their own entertainment. Much of the dance and music has been handed down through the generations, particularly in the bush. It was for these reasons that the club changed its name in 1989 to align its title in keeping with its aims. Of utmost importance is a desire to maintain family patronage with a good representation of mixed age groups and community atmosphere.
Founding members of the club were well acquainted with the success of the family dances in the St Arnaud region during the 1970s. These had been established and maintained by Ron McNally, MC from Kooreh and aided by Isabel Supple of Paradise and Ross Pritchard, dance musician from St Arnaud. At the same time in the neighbouring Wedderburn district the Oldtimers and local community were teaching the traditional and social old time dances to their young people as were Colin & Ila Silk and Harry Wiegard at Lockwood South. The BDMC also took into account the respective Folk Festivals at Nariel and Maldon in drawing up its aims and principles.
The club was also keen to maintain the authentic music that had been handed down from in these districts. The tunes had considerable variety including waltzes, jigs and reels, two steps, polkas, schottisches, mazurkas, barn dances and varsovianas.
At first the founders of the club attempted to start as a branch of the Bendigo Old Time Dance Club, commencing with a Dinki Di Ball on Australia Day 1979 and running three more dances over the next few months. That first ball was an enormous success with 169 attending including Shirley Andrews as special guest. The concept had come out of a successful 1978 'Square Ball' which the Old Time Dance Club had initiated with a 50/50 mix of American square dances and Old Time as a concept of attracting younger patrons. The Colonial and Old Time Dinki Di ball and subsequent dances then followed this. However the functions struggled to be a success under the Old Time umbrella with little club support.
Forming on June 14th 1979 the Sandhurst Dance Club in its own right has made many achievements in its 21 years. It has managed to collect and revive many traditional dances that have an important heritage in Australia. These have included the First Set and Lancers, Varsoviana and Polka Mazurka and others from districts further afield such as Nariel with its Manchester Galop and the Princess Polka from the northeast and western districts respectively. Favourite old time dances such as the Pride of Erin and Maxina are always included on their programs for regular dancers and some of the revived British and Irish Folk dances like the Dashing White Sergeant and Waves of Tory are also favoured.
The historical side without being museum piece is very important with an emphasis on the culture of the bush and the handing on of traditions and national assets from one generation to the next. This entails recording and documenting details of descriptions of the dances and the relevant music and including information on the part played by individual dancers and musicians, callers and masters of ceremonies and their partners. Public dances and balls, lessons and workshops, displays and performances are all an important aspect of the BDMC's aim of promoting and handing on the tradition. Awards and special acknowledgment are presented to both young and oncoming achievers in the field and to the senior masters who have so freely passed the tradition on.