Somewhere in St Marys on a Tuesday morning at morning tea time, a group of people gather at a community centre. Inside, chairs outline a dance floor – two cabinets contain beautiful frocks and a couple of framed photographs – and four actors.

Created by Katrina Douglas and the performers in a response to interviews conducted with members of the community, the show’s billed as: “Part verbatim theatre and part social dance, this cross-generational performance will bring the world of the dance hall back to life with hints of first love, the magical music of the era and overcoming two left feet.”

Before too long a master of ceremonies – shiny combed hair and an enthusiastic voice (Philip Dodd) introduces some dances as three couples rise from the chairs and begin to demonstrate some of the dances… senior in years and light on their feet: there is something that strikes me as elegant about this: something reassuring and gentle. The show itself is a series of stories about courtship and romance in days before technology and entertainment: a kind of “the way we were” portrait – nostalgic, simple and pitched to the audience who we of and made that era what it was.

Here we have portraits of Australia which are rosy hued and charming: re-telling of love stories and in some ways a nostaglic museum piece which speaks of etiquette and social graces, outlining the effort which went into courtship and romance – another world it seems from HBO’s latest offering: Lena Dunham’s “Girls.” And it seems that the stories sourced were indeed in keeping with the etiquette of the time – there was no darkness or gristle to chew on in this show: just sweet memories and an acknowledgement of social expectations. To bring to this my contemporary experience of courtship, relationships and etiquette – I found some aspects confronting for my sensibility: the gendered role play, and the rules of seduction. And for me, witnessing this portrait – I felt mixed feelings – longing for a time when the long game is played – a nostaglia for a time which is not my own. But despite that, I would not trade my independence, my sense of justice and feminism and humanism – and the fact that this a portrait of a time before Australia’s indigenous people were included in the census. As a piece of specific social history – it niche and specific. And there is a time and a place for all histories of Australia – for this is one small and delightful slice.

Perhaps my lens from which I viewed this work – as a one time debutante growing up in North New South Wales – I know the delight and the challenge of learning the Pride of Erin with a lanky legged boy, the social politics of partner dancing, and yes, I do adore the effort displayed by all when dressing up to go out… I am unashamedly sentimental, despite my passionate politics. I enjoyed much about this show – the limber performances, the sweet stories, the romance of a time which had ceremony and elegance of style.