Backward Glance – Fancy dress memories

Many Sunshine Coast residents have fond memories of fancy dress balls.

Held regularly, they were a form of entertainment for many and often used for fundraising, when communities or schools needed money for a special project.

There was always much excitement leading up to an event, children looked forward to showing off their special costumes at their school’s fancy dress ball.

Mothers were busy gathering everything they needed to create the most spectacular creations with simple fabrics, paint and fixings that they found around the house.

Characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes were always popular choices. Glitter and glue were also magic ingredients to make the evening shine.

Adults weren’t left out, they also enjoyed the chance to dress up and forget their worries for a night.

Fundraising for a particular cause often provided opportunities for everyone to take part in costumes with a special theme.

Fancy dress balls and novelty dances were a regular social highlight for many groups, clubs and community halls, and people often travelled for miles, by any means they could, to attend.

In the early days, some used a horse and cart, and later, people would pile into a cream truck with wooden planks for seats.

School buildings were often used if there was no hall in the region.

The pages of the Nambour Chronicle provide many social reports on fancy dress occasions over many years.

In May, 1931 Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving club raised funds for a much needed wooden rescue surf boat.

The very successful fete was held with the highlight being a very eye catching fancy dress football match, where male life savers played in fancy dress. A large audience came to watch.

Following the day’s events the Nambour Philharmonic Society gave a very successful concert in the School of Arts Hall.

It was a splendid program and after each item the crowd applauded enthusiastically.

Community singing followed under the conductorship of Mr J Shaw.

This day of community activities provided quite a large sum of money, so the surf boat could be built.

Nambour’s Rural School also held a Children’s Gala Night at the Diggers Hall in November 1933 where 173 children paraded in fancy costumes.

The enthusiastic children lined up outside the doors, waiting eagerly, long before the event began. When the doors finally opened, they marched to the band music before the costume judging.

Adults and family members watched proudly as the children danced around the floor, all the benefits went to the Rural School.

A host of musicians played throughout the night and when the children’s events finished, supper was served and the adults occupied the dance floor late into the night.

Maleny’s School of Arts Hall was the venue for the Church of England Ladies Guild’s annual children’s fancy dress ball in September 1935.

Music was provided by the popular band The Blue Butterflies. Judging saw Red Riding Hood and Powder Puff as joint winners.

Supper was provided after the festivities and 17 pounds was raised to benefit the church guild.

The first fancy dress ball held at Maroochydore School in 1938 was an impressive affair.

It was officially opened by G F Nicklin, MLA and attended by more than 60 children, who took part in a grand march and dance.

Hill’s Band provided the music and the hall was decorated with palms, ferns and flowers.

Prizes were awarded for best dressed and the children’s waltzing competitions.

In 1950 a very colourful fancy dress event took place again at Maroochydore School, when more than 100 children danced to music played by Johnson’s orchestra.

They had learnt new dance steps, including the Barn Dance and Waltz, and were very excited.

Little Bo Peep, Buttons and Bows, Old World Lavender Lady and a Wimmer’s Cordial bottle fancy dress outfit were selected as winners.

The head teacher Mr Slatter mentioned the hard task of choosing a winner because all the children had done their best, costumes such as ‘Little Miss Muffet’ and ‘The Mouse’ were cited as being especially outstanding.

The Bli Bli Hall was opened on November 19, 1927 by the Maroochy Shire Chairman, Cr JT Lowe. It was the new venue for many fancy dress balls, particularly in the early fundraising years.

The land was generously donated by Marshall Espin and declared free of debt in 1937.

Since then the hall has been renovated, modified and improved and it is still used extensively by the community today.

Times have changed but some special memories live on in photographs and newspaper articles. Fancy dress promoted a sense of fun and was inclusive of all ages.

These events brought together friends, neighbours, visitors and supporters to the region.

In the early days, meeting places across the region were built by our communities to provide a place where they could meet for their various interests and community well-being.

If those walls could speak you would hear the sound of laughter and stories of a bygone era when fancy dress played a big part in the social life of the North Coast region.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Image details

Hero: Maroochydore State School children’s fancy dress ball, Star Theatre, Maroochydore, 26 August 1938

Image 1: B.C.C. staff in period costume at the entry to the store, corner of Queen and Lowe Streets, Nambour, May 1966. The costume was worn to show ‘Woolworths old fashioned courtesy week’ held at the B.C.C. Store.

Image 2: Group in fancy dress costume on the Maroochy River bank at Cotton Tree, 1926

Image 3: Fancy dress ball at Eumundi School of Arts, 1920

Image 4: Group in fancy dress for a May Day procession, Nambour, 1915. Taken at the Nambour Showgrounds.

Image 5: Yandina Cricket Team in fancy dress at a picnic match, Yandina, ca 1908

Image 6: Children and members of the North Caloundra Deep Sea Amateur Fishing Club and North Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club now known as Dicky Beach Surf Life Saving Club, ca 1955

Image 7: Maroochydore Surf life Saving Club members dress up in bathing costumes, Maroochydore Beach, ca 1955. Locals and holiday makers came to watch the various novelty events and Inter-Patrol Competitions held by the S.L.S.C. during the holiday period.

Image 8: Horse-drawn cart with participants in a Patriotic Carnival, Nambour, 1916

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