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Sydney’s historic Trocadero Dance Palace back in the swing.

January 20, 2011

The Original Trocadero, 1936

The Trocadero opened in 1936 in Sydney, in the middle of The Depression opening a space for jazz bands and dancers, bohemians and hep cats to mingle and swing. Can you picture it? On George Street, right where the Hoyts cinema complex stands today in full art deco glory, it remained until 1970 as a glamorous night spot.

This evening I attended the opening of The Trocadero Dance Palace in the Sydney Town Hall, as part of the Sydney Festival. A warm Summer evening, still light outside and people were skipping up the steps of the Town Hall for a very special night. The foyer was buzzing with people, many dressed up to the nines in sharp suits, pretty dresses and some serious hairdos. In an alcove to the left, you could find the Vintage Allsorts Styling Parlor where a team of vintage stylists were on hand to help you fix your victory rolls or pin on a corsage. The music and excitement spilled into the main ballroom and Swing Patrol led an introductory dance lesson from 6:30 onwards.

This cavernous civic space was artfully re-imagined with some very clever lighting design by Matt Marshall. The beautiful uplit columns and lasers created a modern, yet Art Deco aesthetic which directed the energy down to the dance floor, where the action was happening. Spins, dips and pop jumps — the swing dancers electrified the boards! And the rest of the crowd snapped along appreciatively from the surrounding tables and upstairs gallery.

In the true spirit of the Trocadero which originally featured an all-girl jazz band, the Troc Dance Palace is kept swinging by the Sirens Big Band and the adorable vocalist, Lanie Lane. These girls covered all the classics, with tempos to suit all dancers and swing covers of Beyonce and Kylie. There was a floor show, aerialists, dancing, cocktails, schmoozing and crepes. My recipe for happiness. The greatest disappointment was the dance component of the floor show, with 4 young professional dancers, the boys costumed in some alarming jeggings and hipster nerd glasses and the girls in some kind of square-dancing negligee attire. They danced with the enthusiasm of a schools spectacular production of Westside story, but lacked the dance connection and feel of the swing era. The true vibe of the night was brought by the swing dancers in attendance, who filled the floor, feeling the music and   rocking out like it was no big thing.

Pic: Paul K Robbins/Monde Photo

Unfortunately, this palais de danse is only open for 3 more nights and tickets are totally sold out for the early part of the evening. But you will still have a chance to experience the Trocadero party atmosphere, as limited tickets are still available for The Royal Crown Revue, those kings of the American swing revival who will hit the Troc stage from 10pm this Friday and Saturday night. I’ll be there. I can’t WAIT!

For more excellent Trocadero history, take a look at

http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/trocadero.

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