The Last Dance by Murray Walding.

If walls could talk: author Murray Walding to launch fourth book

September 25, 2019 BY

LORNE author Murray Walding will launch his latest novel The Last Dance tomorrow at Lorne Beach Books.

Walding, whose written Plastered: The Poster Art of Australian Popular Music, Blue Heaven and Surf-o-Rama: Treasures of Australian Surfing, said the book started as a social timeline depicting the history of Melbourne’s hottest dance spots during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

But it quickly transitioned into an anecdotal rite of passage on Walding’s past experiences with girls, go-go dancers, gangs and world-class waves.

“It started off years ago as a social history of Melbourne night spots because there were so many of them. They’ve been replaced now as pub rock,” he said.

“I started writing about that and what the dances were like. I put some personal stories into it, and they grew and grew and grew.”

Known for his pop culture wisdom, the award-winning author said when he moved to Lorne in the early ‘70s, he and his wife would visit Melbourne to catch up with old friends.

He was shocked when wandering the streets he once frequented to find many of his favourite dance clubs had been bulldozed along with his adolescent memories. Using his knowledge and involvement in the surf industry, Walding began digging up old promotional posters to find out what changed.

“They died literally overnight. A few others that I knew had also been bulldozed, and I wondered how many there were,” he said.

“I started researching and found 670 venues had changed. Some of them moved, some of them lasted a fortnight after different buyers changed their names.

“Torquay had quite a few venues in this sort of scene… surf stomps and jazz. Most of the surf lifesaving clubs had them over the summer.”

One of the 500 vintage posters Walding unearthed during his 10-year research.

Walding said during his 10 years of on-and-off research, he found the biggest hit to Melbourne nightlife was a licensing law change in the late ‘60s.
“The main reason was they changed licensing laws in 1966. Up until then, pubs used to close at 6am.

“It probably took five or six years but swinging night spots became teeny bopper venues.”

His sister, a former “widgie” and his brother an ex “jazzer”, Walding was determined to tell their stories as well as his own. While he’s written three books, he said The Last Dance was the novel he always wanted to write.

“This was the one I started first, but every time I got ready to get it done, another book came up that had a hard deadline.

“This was a really interesting and really vital era and it’s never been documented. The rock stars documented it, but they were on stage. I wanted to document it as one of the dancers.”

The Last Dance will be launched by Lorne historian John Agar at Lorne Beach Books (108A Mountjoy Parade) tomorrow (Friday, September 27) from 6pm. It is now available for $34.95.