Frank Kennedy - Retired

Frank Kennedy - Retired


Frank Kennedy started to Square Dance with his wife Joan and a handful of friends with ( David Hooper) at the Essendon Square Dance Club in 1977. As time went on Frank developed an interest in learning how to become a Square Dance Caller. Thus so in 1978 he along with a few others became one of David Hopper"s Trainee Callers.

While he was training to become a Caller he did a lot of various things such as:

- Getting hired to entertain and teach a group of non Square Dancers how to do a few simple Square Dance movements which would after a short period of time i.e. in about 15 minutes would have people dancing.these type nights were called (One Night Shows) for which Frank would sometimes be paid $20.

After 12 months of training he then opened his own Square Dance Club which he named 'Westgate Dancers'.

Westgate Dancers·was a very successful club which Frank ran twice a week with the help of his wife Joan being seated at the door to greet people as they arrived. He ran his Beginner Classes on Tuesday nights and did Mainstream on Friday nights every week.

They always had big crowds somewhere between 16 to 18 sets would fill the hall and sometimes Frank would place a speaker in the kitchen or even just outside the hall so that a couple of sets could dance there and still hear him calling as the hall would be so full.

Frank had plenty of highlights during his time of being a very successful Square Dance Caller such as:

  • He was asked to call at the Melbourne Concert Hall 3 times.
  • He ran One Night Shows for the 'Vets' for over 32 consecutive years which was their Orientation night.
  • He called on the float that the V.S.D.A. had in the Moomba Parade.
  • He was President of the Victorian Callers' Association for.a few years. He was asked to go on the radio to talk about Square Dancing.
  • He performed alongside a handful of other callers on Channel 10's (New Faces) on television with Bert Newton.

Whilst doing a 'One Night Show' Frank was approached by an American couple during the night whose names were Ginni and Reg Steele. They were very interested in_opening up a club of their own and had asked Frank how would be the best way to go about starting up their own club. The couple lived at Mount Gambier so after giving it some thought Frank got in touch with them after obtaining their phone number and arranged for 6 sets (that's 48 people) to come to Mount Gamiber with him where they performed demonstrations of Square Dancing in the street and was put on the local television station of Mount Gambier to promote this new Square Dance Club which was when it was opened and named 'Pine City Twirllers'. Ginni Steele couldn't call but she knew how to teach square dancing and ran the club by records. Frank and Joan went every year to their annual club birthday celebrations taking a lot of dancers with them to join in the fun of these special times. Over a period of time Joan Kennedy founded a nice little place in Hall's Gap which bedded at least 250 people therefore they stated to meet every year with Ginni and Reg Steele to have a annual weekend away all together so the 2 clubs could meet up and have pleasant weekend of dancing and having a lot of fun for a number of years.

He received his 15 year, 20 year & 25 year awards from the Victorian Callers' Association.

He also received his 'Silver Microphone Award' from the Callers' Association and was also made A 'Life Member' of the Callers' Association after calling for more than 25 years.

He has called at many State, National & Inter-State Conventions as well as having the experience of calling to Dress Sets at conventions at both National & State Conventions. As well as this he has had the experience of being both an Assistant Program Manager & Program Manager for several conventions.

He has run many New Year's Eve dancers for Westgate dancers with over 250 dancers in attendance which were great fun to attend and were very successful.

While running Westgate Dancers he had many Trainee Callers who he willingly gave a call to so that they could have the experience of calling to dancers before going on to run their own Square Dance clubs. Some of these trainees were: Howard Cockburn, Janet Cook, Peter Humphries, Sharon Lacey, George Pitt, Neil Wynn & David Tucker just to name a few.

After calling for Westgate Dancers for 17 years, Frank decided to hand the club over to Neil Wynn & David Tucker. While the club was taken over by both Neil & David, Frank Kennedy did not stop calling.

He went travelling up North with his wife Joan and while travelling he ran Square Dance clubs for weeks at a time for clubs who otherwise ran their clubs by records. Some of the places he called at were Harvey Bay, Yeppoon, Rockhampton & Proserpine. The dancers at these clubs loved having Frank call for them as usually their clubs were ran by playing records. So when Frank was there they loved dancing to a 'Live Caller'. It was a totally new & exciting experience for them and Frank enjoyed it as well. Frank continued calling every year for these clubs every year on his annual trip until he stopped travelling.

In between his annual trip up North, he opened another Square Dance Club with callers Wally Cook, Sharon Lacey & Bill Pendlebury. The name of the club was R.S.L. Footscray. The 4 callers ran a very successful weekly Wednesday Afternoon Square Dance Club for 6 years.

Frank had an article written about his life as a Square Dance Caller in a book called Inspirational Generation. The article was written by a lady named 'Helen Speirs' which sparked a lot of interest as some camera men from the television program called 'Today Tonight'which is on Channel 7 in Melbourne came to Frank & Joan's home to interview them both about what it was like to have Square Dancing in their lives, The camera men then followed Frank to his Square Dance club at the R.S.L. Club Footscray where they filmed Frank calling,

interviewed a few of the dancers and then took photos. This was all in aid of publicity for the book 'Inspirational Generation' and when it was aired on Channel 7, at the end of the interview they showed the article which was written about Frank in the book and beside the article also in the book was a beautiful photo of Frank calling with Sharon Lacey and standing right in front of them was Sharon's daughter 'Amy' who was 4 years old at the time the photo was taken.

Frank also opened a club at the Footscray R.S.L. on Saturday night which he ran fortnightly. However in 2004 the club was put into recess as the R.S.L. was to undergo some renovations so Frank then had to find another hall.

He did so when he came back from one of his annual trips up North in the suburb of Newport. Thus in November of 2004, Newport Dancers was born and he ran a·fortnightly club again on a Saturday night in Newport.

As the years passed both Neil Wynn & David Tucker had started clubs of their own and were tired of running Westgate. When Frank heard about this, rather than seeing the club close Frank took Westgate Dancers back under his wing and amalgamated the 2 clubs together as one and moving back to the old Westgate hall he then called the club 'Newport/Westgate Dancers.

Frank continued to run both clubs every fortnight for the next few years until November 2012 when he officially after over 33 years plus of Square Dance calling Frank Kennedy who was known by all of the Square Dancers as 'The

Silver Fox' & at the age of 85 years old hung up his microphone for the last time.

Frank has just recently celebrated his 94th Birthday. He togther with Joan have 3 sons, 8 grandchildren & 8 great grandchildren. He lives in Altona Meadows with his wife Joan and his little dog named Rusty Roo. He now spends his time relaxing at home tending to his vegie garden,tending to his orchids and making his own alcolhol such as brandy etc. He also still is known for sitting in his shed and singing the odd song here and there.



Written by Sharon Lacey