This humorous clip is from a Cinesound Review newsreel of 1966. That year was the middle of the Swinging Sixties when social norms were being broken, Harold Holt had replaced Menzies as prime minister, Australia had increased its commitment to troops in Vietnam and go-go clubs were springing up all over Sydney.
Describing these nightclubs as ‘go-go’ dates back to the 1950s. When the British film Whisky Galore! (Dir. Alexander Mackendrick, UK, 1949) screened in France, the French expression ‘à gogo’, replaced ‘galore’. Subsequently, a number of French dance clubs that sold whisky as the sophisticated tipple of choice were given the name ‘Whisky à Go-Go’.
The success of these discotheques was repeated in the US, where the clubs retained their French name. The Americans soon added young girls dancing as entertainment and so go-go dancers, as we know them today, first appeared. Of course ‘go-go’ also suggested the high-energy dance style of the dancers themselves. Dance moves such as the Watusi and the Monkey became a part of their signature repertoire along with sequined and fringed miniskirts and knee-high boots, which eventually came to be called go-go boots.
Melbourne television personality, presenter, dancer and comedienne Denise Drysdale is credited as Australia’s first and foremost go-go dancer. At 17 years of age Drysdale joined a popular music TV show hosted by DJ Ken Sparkes called Kommotion, which premiered in December 1964. Drysdale went on to found a go-go dance school as the popularity of the dance style and the clubs grew.