By Mick Jensen
Thunderbirds are go and rock and roll is in full swing in the Allan household.
Maree and husband Gordon embrace the style, dance and dress of the 1950s, while son Shaun also has the car and is fast learning the moves.
The Allans each drive the iconic car of the era, the Ford Thunderbird.
Maree’s Thunderbird is a yellow, three-speed manual, a convertible from 1957 which has a port-hole window and was bought from a seller in Auckland 18 moths ago.
Gordon drives the “family” 1964 Thunderbird which was bought and driven on the American West Coast before being shipped back to Ashburton. Painted on it in small letters are the names of all the places visited by the Allans on their USA tour.
Shaun’s 1959 Thunderbird belonged to Maree’s late brother, John, and was an early 21st birthday present from his parents.
The T-birds are respectively known as ‘Baby Bird’, ‘Flair’ and ‘Square Bird’
The Allans also share their passion for the 1950s with fellow members of the Ashburton Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, a club which is celebrating its 30th year this year.
“Gordon and I love everything from the 1950s era – the music, clothes, cars and dancing.
“We started rock ‘n’ roll dancing 30 years ago, before our kids came on the scene – we just love it,” said Maree Allan.
Club members meet at the MSA every Sunday from 6.30pm to dance and to have dance lessons.
Son Shaun is a more recent recruit into the club and developed a taste for dancing after seeing rock ‘n’ rollers in full swing at last year’s Caroline Bay Rock and Hop event in Timaru.
“I’ve taught Shaun the basic steps. You spin on your toes and the man leads.
“The dancing goes hand in hand with music from the 1950s era and it’s a great form of fitness as well,” said Maree.
The Allans also dress to impress at regular rock ‘n’ roll events hosted by clubs in Geraldine, Timaru, Christchurch, Kaiapoi and further afield.
Authentic style clothing was pretty easy to source and she made her own clothing as well, said Maree.
Petticoats were layered under brightly coloured flared skirts and dresses for the women and high heels were often swapped for flats before hitting the dance floor.
Men wore jeans and button up shirts and sometimes greased back their hair, in a similar way to the t-birds in the hit musical Grease.
The Allans are gearing up for another Caroline Bay Rock and Hop next month (March 16-18). The event includes a car cruise around South Canterbury, car display, wearable parts awards and a “rock your socks off” dance party.
Maree, Gordon and and Shaun will be cruising south in a convoy for the gathering, each behind the wheel of their impressive t-birds.
They will also team up with other members of the Ashburton Rock ‘n’ Roll Club to show their moves at a dance demonstration on Temuka’s main street on the Friday evening of the rock and hop.