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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    1,497

    Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    Thanks to JiverJ alerting me to this video. I have read & heard much about this Australian sub culture but trying to find videos on it is just about impossible. One for the memory for sure ........

    Looking at the video, quite apart from the music, I get the impression the clothes & fashion seem on par for that period. The dancing facinates me though. It certainly doesn't look like "pub rock" or "rockabilly" dancing to me. More like the "jitterbug" style made popular by Dean Collins seen on those old American "rock & roll" movies.

    Here's the video - enjoy ........

    Last edited by Jitterbug; 23-05-2015 at 07:29 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    84

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    This is great stuff, love these sorts of windows into different eras and cultures and countries!

    Not sure I'd over analyse the dance styles here - to me this is really raw stuff, kids watching a couple of films, rolling back the rugs in their front rooms and doing their own thing with what they've seen.

    The clip seems to suugest Bodgies pre dated rock n roll as the Teds/Cosh boys did here - if so, what were they listening too at the time?

    Its probably fair to say you've had a bit of an insight into how the UK rockin' scene has evolved over the years from other posts - would be interested in hearing how you got from this to what seems to be a very diverse rockin' scene that you have today......?
    Don't Dig Me Daddy 'Cause I'm Real Gone.....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    North Central Victoria
    Posts
    248

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    Wow, that is really keen.

    I remember those days so well, Twelve inch cuffs and red shoes. Parents went ballistic and told us that it's just a craze and that eventually we'll go back to 'real' music. We all went to see Bill Haley and his Comets, Freddy Bell and the Bell Boys and eventually Johny O'Keefe. Little Richard allegedly threw a gold ring worth gazillians into the ocean on his way back to the US. And on and on it went.

    This is what it was like here, and I don't give a damn what happened elsewhere.

    ROCK AND ROLL IS STILL GOING STRONG.

    Thanks a gazillion for this video. You just made an old bugger very happy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    North Central Victoria
    Posts
    248

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    Rockin bones, the music we listened to and danced to prior to Rock and Roll - it was never rockabilly where I lived, maybe it was in the cities - was Nat King Cole, Sinatra, and forties stuff. I hadn't heard of rockabilly until post 2000 when we started dancing again.

    You have to consider that Australia in the 1950's was very different from the UK in the fifties. We had a population of around five million (3,000,000 seems to stick in my mind) and we were a British colony. Some still think that way. I actually remember as a twelve year old, standing in a crowded street to see her majesty Betty Windsor get driven past in a Bentley we were so indoctrinated.
    Now royalty and all its trimmings simply fascinates me, but I digress...

    We danced old time and modern, You know the sort of stuff, Pride of Erin, Palmer waltz, foxtrot, modern waltz sort of stuff. Perhaps you don't know, but that was what we did cos it was what our parents did. Elvis Presley and Bill Haley brought Rock and Roll to Australia. It was an American thing. I do remember something called 'Skiffle' coming from England.....I think.

    While the original post does seem to indicate that Bodgies and Widgies - with their pointy bra's and rope petticoats, bless their hearts - did pre date Rock and Roll it certainly isn't how I remember it. We started after "Blackboard Jungle" hit the silver screens in cinema's not drive in's and followed the music and sub culture associated with it. And who can forget seeing "Love me Tender" for the first time? I have a mint video of that film which has only been viewed once. What a classic. I managed to get hold of fifteen Elvis videos, still in the original cellophane wrapping for three dollars ( yes 15 for $3) just three months ago.

    Australia in the fifties was very straight, as in VERY straight. Sure there were gangs in the cities and even in the bush, but they were not Bodgies and Widgies. The media of the day made it look that way - as you see in the youtube - but that was because they were threatened, just as the media of today hype up every little thing that they deem as being 'unacceptable".

    I don't know when Teddy boys began in England but I hadn't heard of them until well into my late teens. You may now understand why I found Belfast Tede so annoying, he just wasn't able to comprehend that things can be, and indeed were different in our little 1940/50's colony.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    East Gippsland
    Posts
    70

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    Glad you liked it Jitts. We must remember that during world war 11 we had lot`s of American soldiers in Australia and Melbourne and they taught the girls to Jittabug. This was pre rock and roll. I have an early 50`s copy of a `Post` magazine that has young folk dancing Jittabug in Malvern town hall. The music definately dictates how we dance. Rock and roll didn`t come in until mid 50`s. It all evolved ! `Pub rock` didn`t exist until much later, as in the 50s and 60s pubs were shut at 6.00pm, this changed in 1966. Sixties music was different once again so the dance style changed to accomodate Surf, Instrumental, and the Mersey-Beat music etc. Yes Australian Widgies & Bodgies were cousins of the U.K Teds and the American Rockers- greasers and some were pretty wild with knuckle dusters, bike chains, flick knives etc, mind you not all youth followed down the path of `Blackboard Jungle`. I remember the first rock and roll song I heard was `Rock Around the Clock` by Bill Haley & the Comets. Followed by Buddy Holly`s `Peggy Sue`. The rest is history !!!! Don`t ask me where we learnt to dance, as I said it just evolved.......

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    84

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    Cirrus, Jiver J, thanks for taking time out to answer - much appreciated.
    From talking to people who were there in the 50s you get very different perceptions from people 10 miles up the road from each other, let alone putting an ocean in between.... when you weren't there and look back its easy to get a very 'iconic' view which isn't what it was really like. I envy you that buzz of seeing the likes of Freddy Bell and Little Richard in their prime (have seen Little Richard a couple of years ago, preserved rather than prime I think!), can only imagine it to be similar to the buzz of doing our own thing in the 80s.

    Rockin' music is a big pool to swim in - rockabilly, rock n roll, RnB, Western Swing, Doo Wop, Neo, Psychobilly -no one likes all of it, labels overlap and the whole thing evolves. Always like to hear what others are listening to.

    Checked out Johnny O'keefe on YouTube. Not quite my cup of tea but at his best with the more soulful stuff for me. Loved his version of 'Shout'. Discovered Col Joye in the process - definite Buddy Holly/Gene Vincent influence there but not bad influences to have! Johnny Rebb's - Rebel Rock. Can't beat that 'big beat' rock n roll style. Cheers Cirrus
    Don't Dig Me Daddy 'Cause I'm Real Gone.....

  7. #7

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    Here is some more clips of Bodgies and Widgies . I couldn't put them in one post so there is two . If anyone has anymore clips or pic's of Bodgies and Widgies can you put them on here it's hard to get anything thanks .

  8. #8

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia


  9. #9

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia

    AT the age of ten (1953) I started skating at StMoritz in Stkilda (which was a pretty rough area then).And back then there was a lot of problems with the bogies who used to cruise around looking for trouble.Allso at that time there were jazz dancers,and jazz themed Coffey lounges around Melbourne (usually college/uni students) .These were regularly raided by the bogies who beat up the jazzers (as they were called).
    The Melbourne Police fixed this by forming the bodge squad,this was done by police in plain clothes (white tee shirt jeans),they removed the police sign of the powder blue police cars.I saw them in action a few times,they would pull up at the scene, bailout of the cars get stuck into the bogies with there battens, jump back in the cars and take off.Did not identify themselves as police but, we all knew who they were (the cars were a dead giveaway)and they did not arrest anyone.
    It worked very well and broke up the gangs pretty quickly .I also watched them in action against a motor bike gang in StKilda one night,never saw that gang back again.

  10. #10

    Re: Bodgies & Widgies in 1950's Australia


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