Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jailhouse Rocks Festival

It’s that time of the year again, when my hometown hosts it’s annual Jailhouse Rock Festival. It’s the 19th year the festival’s been run and its quickly becoming one of the longest running of its type in Australia. Picture hordes of rockabilly’s descending on the town with their hot-rods, vintage bikes, pompadours and bobby socks. The whole weekend is full of music and dance-offs, pinup girl contests and markets.

There’s something about catching a glimpse of another era that has always fascinated me. History is so intriguing, but sometimes I find the smaller aspects of it more interesting than the epic events. Considering I write steampunk romance set in a pseudo-Victorian setting, one of the things I find a challenge is incorporating all of these day-to-day aspects. So whilst my boyfriend’s checking out the horsepower, I’m wandering the festival daydreaming about the cherry-print dresses, the slang the rockabillies use and even about the different types of values people had back then.

Since I’m a writer, that sets off a whole chain of what-ifs… A writer can read a thousand facts about an era but it’s the daydreaming I find that really fleshes out the book when you’re writing a historical. Wondering just what life might have been like back then.

The 1950’s isn’t really the era I prefer – I love anything pre-1900’s – but it’s always fun for a visit. I’m feeling a real nostalgic buzz for movies like Grease or La Bamba. Any other movies you can suggest that were set in that era?


  1. Looks like a fun festival! Movies set in the 50s? How about Great Balls of Fire and Bye Bye Birdie?

  2. What fun! Old cars, especially old moonshine runners like those, really get my attention. Old movies: Dirty Dancing comes to mind.

  3. Ooh, will have to check them out! Thanks Cheryl. And yes, Dirty Dancing is an old fave, Carolyn.

  4. There's a local restaurant in L.A. called Cafe 50s that's fun to visit sometimes. It's all set up like a '50s style diner with red leather booths, photos of vintage cars, and jukeboxes that play only '50s tunes. The menu is of the burgers, fries, and milkshake variety--the prices, alas, are entirely contemporary!

    As for films set in the '50s, if you like classic musicals, there's "The Band Wagon" and "Funny Face." And for straight comedy or drama, how about "Roman Holiday," "The Last Picture Show," and "Good Night and Good Luck"? Or mysteries like "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and some of the classic Hitchcock films with James Stewart and Cary Grant?

    The 1950s wouldn't be my favorite decade to live in, either, but they made some great films in that era.