Matthew Reddin

A Sexy Dance Troupe Launched the Royal Australian Navy Ship, HMAS Supply, and No One Knows Why

The launch of the Royal Australian Navy Ship, HMAS Supply, was a strange event, as an overly sexual dance number was followed by a somber eulogy to Prince Philip. 

 

What has to be registering as a nine on the weird shit-o-meter was a recent spectacle on show at the commissioning of the HMAS Supply.

They’re about to send this ship out to sea, and there’s admiralty and the Governor-General and obviously very important people in attendance. What’s customary in these circumstances is to lob a bottle of bubbly at the hull and send her off to do her Navy thing. Anchors aweigh, all that. Rah-rah.

What happened when the Supply was being launched was, among other things, somewhat puzzling. It’s a combat support ship designed to re-supply and re-fuel warships at sea.

A troupe of – what we’ll call – dancers putting on a show as part of the pre-commissioning – what we’ll call – entertainment; which turned out to be young ladies in revealing attire performing some kind of routine in formation. Because, Navy?

 

 

Now, these affairs can be stuffy at the best of times, and there’s something objectively funny about seeing the navy brass look that squirmingly uncomfortable. It’s just so … “elderly aunt just cut one at a funeral” levels of discomfort. I’m here for that.

There’s a bigger issue at stake here, however. Amid the current climate, one would think that having a troupe of dancers (doing what the youth tell me is) twerking as part of an official military exercise. I mean, forget the current climate – who’d have thought that such a performance would be used at any government event, whatsoever?

It’s 2021, we’re sending out a new navy vessel out to sea, let’s strike up the band. And then let’s bring in the 101 Doll Squadron to twerk to an Akon* track. Incidentally, on Instagram, they define themselves as a “… Squadron of Dancehall women facilitating a movement to unite & collaborate unique projects inna Dancehall.”

[*it was likely not an Akon track, but give this 45-year-old some leverage for knowing that Akon exists]

I was curious as to what the job was, who they were, and what the circumstances were that had them hired to do their thing on the docks. The Facebook Messenger post went unanswered; the phone call was met with a message along the lines of “Wrong number.” Now their page has been taken down. I suppose it was just a paying gig, and they weren’t anticipating the hoopla.

 

 

Maybe I’m out of touch with what the admiralty is into these days. Maybe I just don’t get it, and context would surely play a part. But what on flat earth do these people think the right context is for dancing girls at an Australian Navy event is?

I took my nephew to a Twenty20 cricket match a few years back and was befuddled by the fireworks and music and – yes – dance troupe. It’s just not cricket, I said to myself (the lad, then 11, was quite amused by it all). But it seemed, I guess, more appropriate to have a dance troupe (a unisex one at that) because it’s a sporting event. Keep the punters entertained between innings. And the youths doing the jumping about were fully attired in seemingly edgy streetwear (because cricket).

I suppose there was a reason for it then, but as an educated man, I cannot for the life of me imagine who thought such a brain fart would float (puns for the win) at the commissioning of a large grey boat. In front of the Governor-General, no less.

I’m not sure what floats David Hurley’s boat; he may not be the pearl-clutching type and might have taken it in his stride. The GG made a speech at the event, bringing the whole thing back to a degree of civility, paying tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh, who was a navy man (and perhaps a fan of dancing girls?).

So, Hurley handled it like a pro, no matter what his inner monologue. But I can tell you that twerking dancers doubtlessly wouldn’t have been on Sir John Kerr’s list of preferred entertainments, and he was mostly drunk, most of the time, and once got so sauced he got a little bit handsy with Her Majesty, no less. Ahh, the ’70s.

So, while we’re trying to do our best and understand that perhaps not everything should be framed from the male gaze and that women should be treated with respect and placed on equal footing as men, and while the federal government – try as it might – simply cannot shed the issues it’s facing, vis-à-vis sexual impropriety, assault, criminality, and general disrespect for women … they’re commissioning a ship for the navy and doing so with semi-attired dancing girls.

I’m beginning to think that having the Sham-Wow guy as Prime Minister may have been an ill-judged step. We’re truly living in the dumbest timeline.

 

Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music, and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines, and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

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