Australian Screen

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King of the Surf (1964)

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Hearts are trumps

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

During the 1964 world surfing championships at Manly, local teenagers flood into a dance, while the international contestants fraternise with new friends. In the morning, the keenest local surfers are out to get a wave before the competition begins.

Curator’s notes

The commentary here suggests slyly that there was serious nocturnal activity, as well as surfing, during this event. ‘For Frenchman Joel de Rosnay, hearts are trumps.’ The international visitors included Hector Velarde from Peru, compatriot Eduardo Arena, Gordon Burgis (representing Britain) and US judge Phil Edwards, all of them shown in this clip. At the dance nearby, pretty girls ‘stomp’ to the sounds of Sydney surf band The Rajahs; another surfer settles in for a nice cup of tea with someone dear in his camper van.

The surf music craze began in Sydney about two years before this, and it was almost over, although not many people knew it. One month after the championships, The Beatles arrived in Australia, and surf music was swept away by the new British sound, but surf music did have a further impact. In 1963 and ‘64, Australian bands recorded more than 100 surfing related records, and a few of them were major hits. Surf music gave a lot of bands their start and established some successful careers, notably that of the 14-year-old Maroubra schoolgirl, Pattie Amphlett, who recorded as ‘Little Pattie’. Her hits included ‘He’s My Blonde-Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy’ (1963) and ‘Stompin’ at Maroubra’ (1963).

There are competing claims about who invented the dance that went with this music, known universally as ‘the stomp’. Some sources say it was invented in the US at beach parties played by the Californian surf music pioneer Dick Dale. Stomping your feet was all you could really do in the sand. Australian surfer Bob McTavish claims that it was invented at the Avalon Surf Club in late 1962.

In his book Stoked! (2009, Hyams Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9775798-6-0), McTavish writes:

The Stomp, the actual dance itself (if you could call it a dance), had been invented six months earlier at the Avalon Surf Club dance that ran on Saturday nights for a while. The Sunsets were the band, and a bunch of us surfers were stuffing around there one night, all of us being lousy jivers or quicksteppers. The two stomps with the left foot, followed by two with the right, was delightfully do-able for us uncouth mongrels.

I can’t recall who actually put it together first, but it was definitely our crew of derros, at Avalon, in late ’62. I do recall the feeling as, pumped up with adrenalin and beer, we grabbed girls and showed them the move, and watched how quickly they caught on. The girls then made it elegant – well, as elegant as the Stomp could be – by adding slow rotations and some body swaying. The boys in the band noticed, and between songs they revved the crowd up on the new dance.

In a couple of weeks, the Avalon Stomp had a name, and crew from all over Sydney started to get into the new craze. Radio station 2UW had just gone a hundred per cent Top Forty, and they gave the Avalon Stomp a plug here and there.

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