TAP TIME: Men’s shed members Paul Hodgson and Chris Dale, right, happily share their tea room with the girls from the Sisterhood Tappers on a Saturday morning. That’s June, front and centre, and loving every minute of the class.  Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By GRANT MAYNARD

WE’RE big fans of the ‘feel good’ story here at the ‘Weekly, and this is another ripper.

It is the story of a dancing troupe made homeless, and those who gave them a new home.

It is also a story of Sunraysia community spirit in the best tradition.

The Mildura-based Sisterhood Tappers had been residents at the riverfront Powerhouse arts venue for some time. They were an off-shoot of the Mildura Musical Society, their instructor – June Louchard – having been a member of that group since the 1970s and, she proudly tells me, having taken part in 88 of the society’s productions.

But, the eight to 10 tappers who were turning up regularly on a Saturday morning for practice found parking and access an issue when their sessions coincided with the popular Farmers Market. An event that attracts a large crowd.

That’s when the group went looking for a new home, and they found it at the Sunraysia Men’s Shed.

The group now practices for an hour every week in the Shed tearoom, and both groups couldn’t be happier.

The Tappers have a new place to practice their moves, and the men get some ‘smoko’ entertainment.

“It is working really well,” June said.

The Shed’s publicity officer, and husband of one of the tapping group, Alan ‘Sandy’ Cameron, agrees.

Each tapper contributes $2 each Saturday to help keep the men in essential morning tea provisions, while the appearance of the odd cream sponge sweetens the deal.

“We need to keep on their good side,” June laughs.

“It works,” Alan said.

So, what do the Tappers practice for?

They are regular entertainers at district nursing homes – where they are very well received – and one of their latest gigs was performing for visitors from Mildura’s American sister city Upland, California.

“We did a half-hour show and it went well,” June said.

As their name suggest, the Sisterhood Tappers are an all-girl group, but June reckons there are a couple of men in the Shed taking more than a passing interest in the tap moves.

And there a quite a few singing along with the tunes the Tappers work with as the men make their tea or coffee, June adds.

Alan’s not sure about any of the men fronting up soon for a tap class, but describes the new arrangement as a win-win.

“We have always seen the shed as a community asset,” he said.

“We have had a lot of support from the community, and this is another way we give back.

“The blokes get some entertainment at smoko time, and a few dollars to help keep the morning tea fund topped up.”

“While we get a place to practice and the support of the Shed members,” June added. “They’re a wonderful bunch.”

The Tappers meet from 9.30am to 10.30am each Saturday morning, one of the busiest times in the Shed, but the arrangement is working and both groups are very happy.