Marrickville Town Hall, NSW, Australia
The mission of the Pollys Club is to raise money for charity. We having been doing this since 1964 by organising GLBTIQ+ themed dances, which are safe, all-inclusive, cost effective and lots of fun. The format has not changed much over the years… doors open at 7pm for a dance set which is a meander through the decades. This is followed by the 30 minute drag show at 9:30pm. The second dance set is more mixed but still retro, still dancy and still fabulous. The funds we raise are donated to charities focused on men’s health, women’s health, youth health, mental health and animal welfare. We hope to see you at one of dances soon.
Isabelle Whitington and Charlie Jones from Queer Spaces recently produced a short documentary about the history of Pollys. We hope you enjoy it.
The people who make Pollys happen
Pollys would not exist if it weren’t for the efforts of a small, but tireless group of voluntary committee members (33 at present) who give up their time to make our dances happen. Worthy of special mention are our Lifetime Committee Members: Garry Trotter, Bill Mansel (Sue Ellen) and Ian McLean (who sadly passed away in Aug 2020 after DJing for community groups for more than 40years). Each of these people have made an exceptional contribution to the club over several decades each. You can find out more about committee membership here.
In addition to the committee members, we have the most wonderful supporters who support us with fabulous prizes, donations of both money and time and endless enthusiasm. Finally, of course, we are only successful because you, our patrons, come along to our dances. We love you!
Our Executive Committee
Pollys is an incorporated association bound by a constitution and as such must be governed by an elected executive committee. The current executive committee is:
President David Haynes (Daisy May)
Vice President Steven Hatfield (Melicious D’amage)
Secretary David Doig
Treasurer Michael McKenzie (Suzie Slush)
Acknowledgement of country
The Pollys Club acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather for our dances. We pay our respects to their Elders both past, present and emerging, and welcome all to our events.
History of the club by decade
The Pollys Club was formed in July 1964. The club started with six committee members one of whom was an islander known as Polly, hence the name Polly-nesian was adopted. The club had several social functions in ‘private’ halls or function rooms in Sydney’s inner west, and conducted its first large dance in November 1964 at Petersham Town Hall, where it remained for several years. These events featured a dance and drag show, a format that is still used today.
During the 1970’s, 80’s and up to the late 90’s the club was mainly based at Coronation Hall Mascot, however other venues were used including Leichhardt Town Hall, the Round House at the University of N.S.W., and Sydney University.
The early 70’s saw the Pollys grow rapidly in both committee membership and the number of people attending functions. An executive committee was formalised including a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Ticket Secretary and Social Secretary. A constitution was developed and it was decided that the Polly-nesians were to be non-political, non-discriminatory, and open to both gay men and women. Our early executive committee and committee members represented a cross-section of the community with professionals and blue collar workers all being part of the group.
Remembering that homosexuality was still illegal during this time, the authorities seemed to turn a ‘blind eye’ to our activities which may have been assisted by a couple of the committee members being solicitors. All money raised by the club in those early days was donated to causes such as the Children’s Hospital at Camperdown, the R.S.P.C.A. and later the Animal Welfare League.
The late 70’s also saw the introduction of the club’s games and picnic day known as the Poly-lympics (one of the l’s was dropped on order to avoid having 3 l’s). The Poly-lympics were mostly held in Sydney’s south west and drew crowds of about two thousand. The day was popular with the gay community as it was a completely private event with security to keep out unwanted press. The events included sprinting races, handbag tossing and many other novelty type events. The last Poly-lympics was held at Erskineville Oval in 1997.
Even though non-political, many Polly-nesian committee members were known as The 78ers – being the people who demonstrated at Taylor Square in 1978 for the right to march, have a parade and for gay rights generally. From this demonstration the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was formed.
The AIDS epidemic arrived in Australia in the early 1980’s. Overnight the whole focus of the Pollys changed. Like many other social clubs, Pollys turned to raising funds for AIDS charities and became a major supporter to the E10 West Ward in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as well as the Royal Prince Henry Hospital. The Club also raised much needed funds for the newly formed Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) among other causes.
The 80’s saw the introduction of harbour cruises, in particular, our very popular New Years Eve cruise. The frequency of our dances grew to every two months and these were split between Coronation Hall Mascot and Leichhardt Town Hall. Pollys also commenced functions in the Round House at the University of N.S.W.
In 1994, the club became incorporated and the name changed to “Polly’s Club Inc”. For the rest of the 1990’s Pollys remained at Coronation Hall Mascot.
In 2000, Pollys moved the dances to Marrickville Town Hall where they remain to this day. Popularity of the club waxed and waned during the 2000s and 2010s but in the last few years, we have experienced a resurgence in patronage with a number of recent dances being booked out.