Freedom in the late 60s and early 70s: How we dated, socialised and danced

I came from a rather conservative family so it was a major effort to be allowed to wear something that did not look like Bombay bloomers or slightly revealing interesting outfits at first when I started to go out with boys. Breaking parents into knowing the fashion and having to convince them what was fashion in the day became an ordeal. It was 1966 before I was allowed a very small heel on my shoe. I bought a purple waisted knit dress with a gold chain belt and it was as if I had suddenly changed from tomboy status to “needed to be locked up” status. Makeup at first was out of the question. “Maybe a little lipstick” my mother would say. I was 15.

I went to a private girls’ school so uniforms included hat and gloves, beret and gloves, with a winter uniform, and sports uniform, much of which or variations of are still worn today. The sports uniform had a lovely pair of brown bloomers that would enhance the outfit (so nothing would be revealed when doing gymnastics). Under the school uniform the girls often wore step-ins or elastic pants that came half way down the thighs. Over this was a silky pair of pants which would come half way down the thigh over the step-ins Šthese silky pants would have a number of rings of lace sewn around them so when your dress blew up in the wind all you would see was lace. Dress length had to be below the knee.

You did not meet boys at school so on weekends we would attend the rowing or the football games that were run at the local private boys’ schools or local associations. Often going with groups of girls, we would spend the afternoon at the event returning to school the next week to see who met who. At first the boys were too shy to talk to large groups, so we found we had to divide up into smaller groups if we wanted to meet new people. We eventually got to know boys from a number of schools and started to be asked out.

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Parties were at first chaperoned and permission had to be obtained by parents, someone had to drive you there, and you were picked up generally well before midnight. Some of the schools had dances, which you would generally be invited to by some member of the boys’ school. I can remember the first outfit I wore to a dance at a boys’ school was a yellow dress with a square neck that was fitted at the waist and had a flair skirt. Mum had spent a lot of time making it and I felt I did look good. Individual dates did not happen until I was nearly 17, and even then it was like a programmed event, fully planned and executed by Dad. As I became more social, my father was buying me a dress a week to go to the football or parties. Eventually Sundays were often spent going to the beach for the day if we were allowed, but driver and parents were also checked out. 

Once I reached the ripe old age of 18, I was allowed more freedom to roam; however the pub drinking age was 21 so I ended up at cabarets at the university, sporting club parties, or private parties.  Getting into the pub was not regularly checked and you did not need ID, however I was asked to leave a number of times on different occasions as the Manager got to know me and realised I was not of age. Women were only allowed in the Lounge Bar at the pub, although I do remember a couple of ladies chaining themselves to the chairs in the public bar.

Things have so much changed these days and I look at the kids moving out of home so early and having all that freedom. I often wonder whether I actually missed anything or did I just have sensible protective parents that wanted me to meet somebody who would look after me the way they did. My kids did not actually believe that there were no drugs in our schools and really I had no exposure to them in that era. But that was very true. You could hear of some of the pop stars getting caught with drug possession, but that did not seem to be in Australia and certainly not near us. It was all drinking and dancing and fun. 

So I am interested in knowing how did you actually fare through these school years? What sort of restrictions or odd fashions were you wearing in your school days and just after? What did you do with your weekends? And how did you meet boys and girls?