Dancing in the Gym, 1960s

The event that perhaps best epitomises the arrival of the 60s at DWS was that long-held school tradition of “Dancing in the Gym.” In my mother’s day (1938-44), one of her form played popular music on the piano. By the 60s, we had a gramophone.

The decade started with girls rather sedately dancing together to the Foxtrot, Quickstep or Waltz, with the occasional interruption of a Snowball, which was when younger girls (“fishes”) asked older girls (“gone-ons”) to dance and vice versa.

But as the Sounds of the Mersey swept the world, we at DWS embraced the new era. Our desk lids were plastered with photos and posters of pop stars, skirts rose well above the knee (to the horror of the staff) and Dancing in the Gym took on a new form.

Gone were the Foxtrot and Waltz and in came the Twist, The Mashed Potato, The Hitch Hike and The Shake. We practised the latest dance crazes in rows of three or four, holding on to the wall bars so as to perfect our moves - and keep our balance!

Other special memories of the 60s include:

• sitting on the window sill of the upstairs common room, listening to Alan Freeman’s pop pickers’ “Pick of the Pops” • watching The Monkees TV series in a packed Orchestra Room • shopping in Biba and Bus Stop in Kensington High Street for fashionable ‘any clothes ’ • recording Gene Pitney’s “The Night has a Thousand Eyes” with schoolfriend, Lynne Moorhouse, in a booth on St Annes Pier during the summer holidays • watching The Beatles at the Blackpool Opera House in 1964, aged 13, with mother, grandmother and schoolfriend, Elizabeth Chapman • listening to Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg under the bed covers on a transistor radio smuggled into school • black diamond mesh tights • straightening our hair by sticking it to the sides of our faces with selotape (pre-ghds!)

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