Director Roger Scholes / 1996 / Australia

Perth in the late 40s - a suburban community hall turns into a unique Aboriginal meeting place, the Coolbaroo Club In a city with an unofficial apartheid policy, the club was an anomaly—a classy dance hall visited by black celebrities from all over Australia and even overseas, such as Nat King Cole, Harold Blair and the Harlem Globe Trotters. Certainly in the Aboriginal experience, it was unique. Considering the racial culture of Perth at the time (the city submitted its Aboriginal residents to a campaign of obstruction and harassment involving identity cards, curfews and even a designated black zone) the Coolbaroo Club was extraordinary. And it wasn't just a dancehall—the activist wing of the club, the Coolbaroo League, ran a newspaper and became an effective political organisation, speaking out on issues of the day affecting Aboriginal people.

Roger Scholes' evocative eye-opening docu­mentary is at least 50% dramatisation, and the all singin', all dancin' club where Aboriginal singers and musicians belt out bluesy |azz standards is brought back to life in dreamlike colour. It couldn't really have been like this you ask? But it was. Drawing on the research of co-writer/co-producer Steve Kinnane and the close collaboration of the Perth aboriginal community (of which Kinnane is a member) who share their memories, oral histories and photo albums with the filmmakers, the Coolbaroo Club is elevated from the level of myth and captured on the record, forever.

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