I was born in Scotland on the 21st January 1948 and what is important about that date is that I grew up in the 50's, an era when music was changing radically. Pop music was in, Rock'n'Roll was in its beginnings and Big Band Swing was on the decline in the post war years. I often hear a song or piece of music that seems to sweep me back to another time and whilst I spent a good part of my later life following other musical styles, I now find that the music I truly love was firmly entrenched in my young life. Buddy Holly was alive and putting out hits and whilst I didn't know what Rockabilly was then, I now recognise it as the music which had such a dramatic influence in my teen years of hanging around local dance halls. This was the era of the Teddy Boys in Britain and many of the dance halls which played the most exciting music were out of bounds to us, as the people who frequented them were considered by my parents as "undesirables".
My older brother introduced me to Swing and Jazz when I was quite young. He was a great piano player and had a taste for this type of music. I think the first Big Band music I heard was a Glenn Miller LP and this love affair with Big Band, whilst suppressed for many years, has come back to me in a big way since I met Margie 10 years ago and we discovered a shared love of music and things from a bygone era.
I moved from the UK with my first wife when I was 26 and lived in Adelaide for 25 years. I have two children from my previous marriage (plus four grandchildren) and, as is often the case when you are bringing up children, your own musical preferences are stifled as your children tend to take over what music is played in the house. Consequently I went through a period listening to Heavy Metal and House dance music or whatever was in vogue at the time. It's all a musical journey, an experience which allows you to sort out in life what you like and don't like. It wasn't all bad and in many cases I enjoyed what I was listening to. It just didn't "stick" with me.
When my first marriage collapsed and at 48 I was "single again" as they say, I started hanging out at one of those "over 35" discos where they played great Retro music and met a lady who could dance Rock'n'Roll. This was a momentous event in my life's path as, not being able to dance like this, I was determined to learn. Just about the time I got hooked, I was transferred to Sydney with my job and now being totally addicted, I decided to keep going with my dance lessons in Sydney. I was first directed to the Trocadero Dance Studio at Burwood where I started with this new style of dance called Rockabilly which I had never heard of (well I thought I hadn't till I heard the music and was swept back to the dance halls of my youth). That was it folks! I was back on track with my interrupted life.
Another momentous event occurred when I was recommended to The Marble Bar on Thursday nights to hear a great Rock'n'Roll band called "The Comets". The music drew me back for a second week and on a relatively quiet night, I was suddenly aware of a gorgeous redhead standing beside me at the bar. "Would you like my seat", I asked. "No thank you ", was the reply. "I've been sitting at a desk all day". As they say, the rest is history. In a casual discussion we learned that we had much in common, even to the point where coming out of broken relationships, we weren't keen to jump into another but needed some life in our life. Well in truth I was smitten from the first and was head over heels in love (at 48). We found that through music and dance we had enough to build a solid relationship that has kept us close together for 10 years and like the smart boy I am, as soon as my divorce was through, I proposed and was accepted. We have been happily married for 9 years now.
Some years ago, through a desire to give back something to the music and dance scene we loved so much, we decided to embark on teaching dance, and supported and encouraged by our long time friends Bruce and Sharon who had opened Swingtime Dance Studio we started teaching Rockabilly. We are thrilled that here we are over five years later and still going strong. We have good numbers of people coming to learn to dance. Many of our students have become close friends and they thank us for introducing them to a lifestyle which is so much fun and people who are so friendly.
After a back injury at work early in 2006 I was forced to change jobs which meant a later finish in the evening and the weekly classes which we had started suffered as a result. Margie had a brilliant idea of doing a workshop on Sunday afternoons and this turned out to be a great success with a fresh new bunch of students starting every month. This of course is adding numbers to our workshops of intermediate students and keeps injecting fresh lifeblood into the Rockabilly music scene which always needs more people to keep it alive. More and more people are making new friends and discovering the pleasure of the music and lifestyle we love.
When we started teaching, we registered a business and from that time on, we became "Limpin' Jimmy and The Swingin' Kitten", me for a slight remaining limp as a result of childhood Polio which I survived and Margie as a reflection of her great love of music and dance.
Our CD collection was forever growing, covering mainly music of the 40's and 50's. We were called on a few times to DJ for gigs and thought that this could become another part of our little business empire. We purchased all the necessary equipment and started looking for work which came in and steadily increased as our reputation grew. We had this website built so we could promote all aspects of our business and increase our work activity. The Newsletter and Gig Guide is our way of putting back into the scene something in return for all we have received.
Through my relationship with Margie, I have developed a love of clothes and things from the 40's and 50's. Things that suited our lifestyle! We drive a 1962 "S" Series Valiant which we love. Now I feel we truly live in the 21st century but with some of the great style and culture that existed back in the 40's and 50's. Most of our friends live the same life style and feel the same as us. Those friends who don't, at least understand our commitment and accept us for what we are.
I was born in the 1960's and from about the age of 7, I kind of thought I had been born at the wrong time. Why 7? It was about then I discovered the one and only Elvis Presley by watching his movies on a Saturday afternoon. Well, I was captivated by his good looks, his music, the clothing, the cars - it was just the whole package. There were the Bill Haley movies as well ("Rock around the Clock" and "Don't Knock the Rock") and I saw these teenagers dancing and I thought it was the coolest style I had ever seen. Around this age, I also heard Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" and that was my first exposure to Big Band Swing. The path was set now....
Various 'defining moments' have happened for me over the years. These are moments that have stayed with me and moments when I just know I have made the right choice with the lifestyle I follow. I grew up in the 70's and the very first album I bought was "Take it Greasy" by Ol' 55 who were in their hey-day at the time. Well - I loved that album I nearly wore it out and still listen to it to this day. Another defining moment was back in around 1976 when the Sun-Herald did an article on a few girls who lived a 1950's lifestyle and were trying to start resurgence in 1950's fashion. That article caught my eye and I was instantly attracted to the femininity of the clothing and the style of the garments. Around this time, I remember being at school one day and being asked what my dream car was. When others said a Holden Monaro, my response was a 1956 FJ Holden. At that age, I wasn't too afraid to go against the norm and feel confident in being an individual. Being about the only student with red curly hair in a school in the inner west, I really felt I had nothing to lose. "Happy Days" came on the television and I thought the Fonz was the coolest and I became an avid watcher. "Grease" was one of the most popular movies at the time and I think I went to see it about 3 times in a month. If I can narrow down the feeling or the emotion I have when I look back and remember my defining moments - two points come to mind. One - this just feels so right and two - this just feels so good!
The music side of life changed forever when a boyfriend of mine in the mid 1980's lent me some records and he said, "You should hear this music - it sounds like something you have never heard before". I listened and was swept away with what I heard on the turntable. The albums were Atlantic Rhythm 'n' Blues and it featured artists such as Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Clyde McPhatter, Lavern Baker, The Coasters and many more. It was a moment when I thought - this is it - I have found something that I have been either missing out on or looking for. It then started me off on a buying spree of music from the 1940's and 1950's. I discovered the most amazing music which at times can bring tears to my eyes.
So my interest in architecture, cars, furniture, music, dancing, movies and clothing from the 1940's and 1950's was there to stay.
In about 1988, I decided I wanted to explore the world of dance and went to a local evening college and did a ballroom dancing course. I did that for about a year or so and I did enjoy it. I discovered I was a good follower, but somehow the music though just didn't cut it for me. I then discovered the dance studio had a rock 'n' roll workshop on and went along to that, which I found much more enjoyable. Some ballroom dancing friends and I had been recommended to go to the Phoenician Club on Broadway on a Friday night as we were told there was the coolest style of dancing going on there, but they didn't really know what it was. We were told it was like stepping back to the 1950's. So off we went and it was the most amazing spectacle I had ever seen. Guys looked so cool and the girls looked like they had just stepped out of a 1950's magazine. The band was Buddy and the Bird Dogs and the style of dancing was exciting and fast and just the coolest. I watched a couple dancing and they never missed a beat and I was inspired to dance just like them, so I made some enquiries and found out there were regular classes at the Bondi Pavilion. After a few months of lessons, I was ready to hit the floor. That was the end of my ballroom dancing phase and I haven't regretted it at all. I found a dance style that I loved which also combined with the music I loved. My exploration into bands and dancing was now a lifestyle.
In the 1990's, I became an avid collector of furniture, music, bric a brac, vintage clothing and music. I also discovered the Stray Cats and delved further into Rockabilly music which soon became a passion. Dancing was an obsession and going out most nights of the week to hear bands and dance was an integral part of my life - I just had to find someone who I could share this crazy, hectic and amazing lifestyle with. This was not a lifestyle I was going to compromise on or grow out of - I had found my path and I was sticking to it.
I met Jim one night in July 1997 at the Marble Bar at the Sydney Hilton whilst listening to the Comets. I was a little 'over' men by this stage and thought I would end up being the oldest groupie and dancer on the planet. This lovely Scottish gentleman offered me his seat to which I replied "no thanks, I have been sitting at a desk all day". Anyway we chatted for a while and I found out he was learning to dance and I suggested we have a dance that night. We chatted for ages and soon discovered we had many interests in common and the first one was a love of music and dance. We married in 1999 and have been heavily involved in the music and dance scene ever since then. We eventually turned this passion into a business and "Limpin' Jimmy and The Swingin' Kitten" were born.
|Jim - ph 0419 498 578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Margie - ph 0410 668 995 or email email@example.com