Like I do, I’m sure many of you of my vintage and thereabouts remember the popular Go-Go dancers of the Sixties. Throughout the Western world, crowds of happy, energetic revellers flocked to nightclubs and hotels to witness the mini-clad girls in their knee-high, high-heeled boots do the Watusi, Mashed Potato, The Frug etc., proving those boots were made not only for walking!
The energetic young ladies shimmied upon raised platforms, often encaged.
Not only did the Go-Go girls get a good work-out, so did the patrons. Dancing - not getting “blotto” - was the aim of an evening out – and dance we did. There was no stopping us.
“Dance Boss”, the family-friendly television show presently gracing our Aussie TV screens, where teams of workers from the same workplace etc., dance-off in dance battles, has stirred memories of a particular fun time of which I was part aka instigator - back in the early Seventies.
During the 14 years I was employed at the Queensland headquarters of a Sydney-based fashion company I held a few titles, one of which was “Office Manageress”, and another – unofficially - was “Functions Coordinator”.
Promotional evenings to launch new season lines were regular occurrences throughout any given year. Spring, summer, autumn and winter stirred one’s creativity.
Part of my “cloak of many colours” was to assist in the step-by-step conception of the events, encompassing all avenues. Sometimes functions were held purely as PR exercises.
The evening I’m about to describe was for the latter purpose.
A special affair to entertain our major clients e.g. Myers, David Jones and a number of other city fashion outlets was being planned.
Mostly, our promotional evenings were held in our showrooms. Sometimes they were held at an independent venue such as a restaurant. This particular event was to be held at The Courtyard Restaurant, which was situated at Bowen Hills, an inner-city (Brisbane) suburb. The restaurant was owned and operated by an ex-Olympian. As a weightlifter he represented Australia in the 1972 Summer Olympics. He was also Australian shot put champion for a number of years.
The job of choosing the venue, menu, theme etc., for the night was my responsibility. The planning of such events was never a chore for me. Doing so was always lots of fun. I loved everything involved. I didn’t treat the job lightly, but organising those evenings was exciting, creative and interesting.
Don’t ask me why because I’ve forgotten the reason, but, for The Courtyard function, I planned a Hawaiian-themed night, which meant, of course, Hawaiian music.
Furthermore, everyone knows a Hawaiian party is not Hawaiian without hula dancers.
The shocked looks on the faces of our three young general office lasses when I gently informed them they’d be on stage in the restaurant’s function room performing the hula is embedded in my mind. Their reactions were priceless! If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here to tell the story.
Every day, up until the night of the function, hula lessons and practice took over lunch hours, with me as the dance instructor. It was a bit like the blind leading the blind, probably. The only previous experience I’d had at grass skirts and hula dancing was as a little girl...I always went as a hula dancer to the local fancy-dress dances! My brother, Graham always went as a pirate. Instead, if I had gone as a pirate, I guess I could’ve turned the evening into a “Pirates of the Caribbean-Jack Sparrow” tribute...or, more sensibly, Errol Flynn...seeing Jack Sparrow wasn’t around at the time of the evening at the Courtyard Restaurant. Sparrow was still flying about, sailing the high seas, pillaging, looting and the rest of it...
When I hired the hula skirts, the three about-to-be discovered stars realised there was no escape. Their fate was sealed.
However, on the night of the function and their "professional", yet unpaid-for debut, the three girls stepped up to the plate/stage, and didn’t miss a beat or a sway. Once they got into the flow, realised their moment in the spotlight, it was difficult to get them off the stage. They enjoyed the limelight and fame.
With a beaming smile across my face, I was like a proud mother hen as I stepped up to the microphone when the music stopped playing, and the girls stopped swaying.
Moulin Rouge didn’t come a-calling, though.
Knowing my limitations, I stepped aside; returned the grass skirts; hung up my dancing shoes (my hula girls performed barefooted, so shoes weren’t an issue for them); and I left future dance instructions to the more experienced such as Todd McKenney, Andy Garcia, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Mia Michaels, Debbie Allen etc., etc., et al .
Slow-Cooker Hawaiian Meatballs: Combine 1kg beef mince ½ panko breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, 1/2c minced onion, 1tsp minced ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves; season; form into 24 balls. Heat olive oil in large pan; cook meatballs and brown on all sides, about 2-3mins per side. Put in saucepan juice from 665g canned pineapple chunks, 3/4c brown sugar, 3tbs soy sauce and 3tbs vinegar; bring to a boil. In a small bowl whisk together 1/2tbs water and 2tbs cornflour; slowly add to sauce; whisk until thickened; season. Spray slow cooker; place meatballs in cooker; pour over sauce; add the canned pineapple chunks; cook on low, 2hrs.
Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken: Using a pan or the cast aluminium slow cooker insert, brown 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs on both sides, 3-5mins over high heat; then remove from cooker. Add 2c pineapple, cut into 1-inch chunks and 1 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks to slow cooker. Mix 3tbs honey, 2tbs soy sauce, ½ c brown sugar, 1yns grated ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves; add to cooker. Add thighs to cooker. Cook on Low 5hrs, or on High, 3hrs. Mix 1tbs cornflour with 1tbs water; add to cooker, along with 1 red capsicum, cut into 1-inch chunks; cook further 30mins. Serve with rice.
Hawaiian BBQ Baked Beans: Add 840g rinsed, drained canned pinto beans, 460g rinsed, drained, canned cannellini beans and 460g rinsed, drained kidney beans to slow cooker. Add 1 diced onion, 1/2c tomato sauce, 1/3c packed, brown sugar, 1/3rd cup molasses, 2tbs white vinegar, 2tbs yellow mustard, 2tbs Dijon mustard, 1tbs Worcestershire sauce, 180g canned pineapple juice mixed with 1tsp cornflour and 1tbs Cajun spice. Cook on Low, 7-9hrs, or on High 3-4hrs; stir occasionally. If too thick, add a little water; if not thick enough, cook longer. Just before serving, stir in 6-8 cooked, crumbled bacon rashers. Top with diced shallots, grated cheese and hot sauce, if desired.