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'Surf Girls' sheet music cover

Date: 1921
Overall: 296 x 219 mm
Display Dimensions: 292 x 218 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Sheet music
Object No: 00005742
Place Manufactured:Melbourne
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    'Surf Girls', written by Rick Dahr and composed by Art Gee, was a foxtrot song designed to be sung and played on the piano. The cover depicts a woman in a 1920s style swimming costume as if in a dancing pose with five swimsuit-clad women in the background.
    SignificanceThe song 'Surf Girls' illustrates the burgeoning beach and swimming culture that had been developing in Australia since the late 1800s. The colourful illustration on the front cover highlights the most potent symbol of this culture - the swimsuit. It represents a time when women's swimwear had evolved into more than a functional garment and into a fashion statement designed to accentuate the female form.
    History'Surf Girls' is a light-hearted song written to be danced as a foxtrot, a form that gained momentum throughout the 1920s. In the lyrics, the speaker describes the 'Surf Girls' of the 'Sandy beaches' as carefree and provocative, alluding to their scantily clad bodies.

    At the heart of the lyrics and the front cover of this piece there is one enigmatic motif that seems to dominate references to these 'Surf Girls'. The mystery of the female body is a consistent theme and is articulated through references to their swimming costumes. The long-held fascination with the swimming costume and its ability to shock viewers centres around its ambiguous nature. As a garment that toes the line between swimsuit and underwear, the speaker describes how their 'tall and slender' bodies cause a 'new sensation on the beaches' and more explicitly, how their costumes 'make old Father Neptune’s Leaves begin to fall'.

    By the 1920s, swimsuits had ventured beyond functional purposes to include fashionable patterns and cuts designed to emphasise and therefore draw attention to the female form. This song articulates the way that women's swimwear was responded to during a time when more revealing swimsuits began to dominate beach culture. As the speaker says in the second verse and opening chorus line:

    'I’m going back to sell my home
    And settle down beside the foam
    This is just a paradise for me each Summer

    Surf girls they've got a fascination for me....'
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Surf girls sheet music cover

    Web title: 'Surf Girls' sheet music cover

    Related People
    Lyricist: Rick Dahr
    Composer: Art Gee

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