No dirty dancing at Gilkison’s


Young Australia League, Murray Street, under construction in 1924

The young couple are clasping their bodies suggestively close. In typical bodgie style, a cigarette dangles from his lip, and their expressions are fashionably bored.

His right hand is on her hip and her left hand rests gently on his bicep. They bend their knees and off they go, repeating the same three dance steps over and over. The boy going backwards all the time.

Welcome to the most shocking dance craze of 1953: The Creep.

For Sam Gilkison, who operated a dance studio from the Young Australia League (above), this was the type of thing only done by “sensation-seeking drug-addicts”:

“I can’t imagine any teachers having anything to do with teaching this type of thing,” he said.

Old time ballroom dancing was as risqué as it should get. Even modern ballroom, if you have to. But never dance crazes like the Creep, he fumed.

Mr Gilkison was not a big fan, we take it.

In any case Gilkison—who should know—declared that the Creep was not a legitimate dance since it had a “suggestive nature” which risked bringing the dancing profession into disrepute.

The “sex dance menace” alarmed those who had responsibility for the moral well-being of Perth’s youngsters.

Dance hall owners feared controversy if the Creep became too popular, as it threatened to do. So these owners got together to discuss banning it altogether from their venues.

Dodgy Perth nostalgically remembers Goth nights at Gilkison’s, sipping an absinthe cocktail, and seeing dancing on the floor of which Sam Gilkison would definitely not have approved.

We remember little more after the second absinthe cocktail, but hope our own moves were not even close to being of the sex dance menace type.