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John recalls dance folklore and memories of The Frat

Sunday night dances at the Fraternity Club feature prominently in the memories of many of the first generations of members.

For club director John Apolloni, the dances were the first thing he thought of when asked about his memories.

John’s recollections go back to the 1960s, when he was only three or four.

“The Fraternity Club has been part of my life as far back into my childhood as I can remember,” John says.

“My earliest memory dates back to when I was three or four. Mum and Dad would dress my two sisters and I up in our Sunday best. The girls would wear matching clothes, of course, and we would all walk or sometimes catch the bus, from Balgownie village to the Frat in Fairy Meadow for a Sunday night dance in the auditorium.

“At this time, the first of the extensions had been built, running east-west and adjacent to the original club house to form an L-shape.

“Between the buildings was the outdoor bocce court. I clearly remember the polished timber floorboards of the dance hall upstairs. Like any community hall, the stage was at the front and lifted about a metre off the ground. Rows of tables and chairs were positioned down both sides to form a herringbone effect with the dance floor in the middle."

“I remember that they would sprinkle the dance floor with something - I think salt - so that your feet/shoes could easily slide as you danced. During the dance breaks, the young kids, like myself, would run across the floor and slide on our shoes like we were all on ice, only to be chased off by staff and roused on by our parents."

“I also remember playing outside around the bocce courts in the night, as the kids did back then. “We were playing hide and seek and I remember myself and some other kid I had met running up the front stairs of the original club house."

“I think it was the entrance to the staff quarters or the duty manager’s quarters. Anyway, as we were hiding, all of a sudden, this tall dark man appeared and with the deepest and raspiest of voices yelled at us scaring me half to death."

“As a child, I was always terrified of this man with the husky, deep voice. As I grew older, I came to know him well as a nice man who took his job as duty manager very seriously.

“His name was Charlie and he was one of the early staff who became iconic and synonymous with the Frat.”

This is the end of Part 1 of John's memories of the Frat. We will present Part 2 will soon.

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