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A brief history of the Traditional Social Dance of Victoria (TSDAV)

     One hundred years ago -

“Balls of all kinds remained one of the favourite entertainments of all classes from the squatters to the town larrikins. At all balls, whether under the auspices of the bachelors or publicans, dancing was vigorous and lasted until daylight”.

These facts, recorded by Margaret Kiddle in her book Men of Yesterday (Melbourne, 1961) suggest that our ancestors were much better dancers than we are as they obviously got plenty of practice. And with so many hotels in those days having dance halls attached to their premises, even the serious drinkers were expected to dance regularly. Sadly, both the social aspects and the skill in social dancing have declined steadily during this century, except in some country areas.

With the general revival in the 1950s of interest in Australian songs, music and folklore, a few enthusiasts also took an interest in our past traditions in dancing. Their attempts to popularize this led to the modern style of ‘bush’ dances which have gained steadily in popularity since then.

The re-introduction of dances from earlier days posed some problems for present-day people who mostly have not much opportunity to learn to dance. In earlier days learning to dance had been a normal part of growing up and children were usually taught by family members or friends. This job was likely to be taken on by someone who was a keen and expert dancer. You can still see this tradition in action if you attend dances in some country areas such as those around Bendigo, Castlemaine and Corryong, where young people can still do the couples dances and quadrilles that were the mainstream of social dancing in earlier days.

The Traditional Social Dance of Victoria (TSDAV) was launched in September, 1980 to promote, protect and oversee our Australian dance traditions as well as to provide knowledgeable authorities for people seeking information about dancing.

The Association’s primary focus has been on our earlier traditions, that is those of Colonial dancing and its associated English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh dance traditions, but to promote and support the many ethnic social dance traditions now active in Australia.

The TSDAV now offers: