The Dance Band, Philadelphia Rhythms, were formed in 1947 by an astoundingly talented trumpeter, the late Mr. Arend Hendricks. Playing at venues like the Drill Hall and Banqueting Hall in Cape Town, Weizman Hall in Sea Point, the Wynberg, Rondebosch, Woodstock and Mowbray Town Halls, they soon had their regular followers dancing to their music week after week.
Those were the magical moments of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s where the dance halls were a celebration of music and dance. Ladies in their swirling dresses and gentlemen in their finest suits, the langarm was an entirely social ballroom event where young love blossomed on the dance floors and communities shared a common love of true Cape Town music. Until the late 60’s, the square dance and commercial dances created by the people of Cape Town were a ‘must’ at every function they played. The band occasionally played at various picnic sites on Sundays, during the summer months, as many organisations had outings to raise funds. The band also released various records in the 1950’s with favourite songs entitled “Sunshine of Your Smile”, “Song of India”, “There Goes My Heart”, “Hey There” and “With These Hands” among other popular songs. A highlight for the band in those early years was being invited by the Cape Town City Council to play for “King George IV and Queen Elizabeth” during their tour of this country at a function of splendour in the Cape Town City Hall. “Philadelphia Rhythms” played at the ball in the City hall to celebrate the Queens 21st birthday in April 1947.
Due to the group areas act and by 1970 people of colour could no longer hire or access those venues across the city for their social engagements. The many hotels and community halls like Retreat Hotel, Athlone Hotel, Snannies Inn, Beverley lounge, to name but a few, then became the regular dance venue for the people on the Cape Flats. In 1971, Arend retired due to ill health. His son Gerald assumed leadership of the band, leading them upward and onward to the pinnacle of their success in the 70s and 80s, when they played almost every Friday and Saturday night and a matinee on a Saturday afternoon.
When Gerald was not occupied with the logistics, he would be scribbling away on his music sheets, churning out new tunes for the band. At that time they specialised in strict tempo dance music, playing anything from ballroom to serious jive. Over all those years, the band developed a distinct sound to which their followers grew accustomed, a sound that was easily identified no matter where they played: three or four part harmony arrangements of well knows tunes and standards played the Cape Town big band way. Whether it was a quickstep, slow foxtrot, waltz, samba or Vastrap, it all got done in the ‘Phillies style’. They released two records: “Any Time Is Party Time” in 1973 and “For the Good times” in 1974. The band also took to the road, leading them to many places including gigs in Port Elizabeth and Kimberley. The bands enduring success can be attributed to the dedication of both Mr. Arend Hendricks and Mr. Gerald Hendricks.
One of the many highlight would be the “New Year’s Eve ball” with young and old attending. The hall would be decorated with streamers, balloons and lights with hats of different shapes and sizes being donned by the festive attendees. With a festival atmosphere being created, everyone would have a ‘ball of a time’ dancing and singing to tunes like “Happy Days Are Here Again”, “It’s New Year”, “Now Comes the Hour”, “Auld Lang Syne” and many other unforgettable favourites.
Today the band is still swinging and can be heard under the leadership of Chris Hendricks and the 4th generation of musicians gigging at a variety of function in and around Cape Town. Over the years the band has build an extensive and ever growing repertoire of varied music ranging from old time favorites, popular standards and well known tunes to the latest hits. That distinct sound can still be heard providing musical entertainment to young and old at social dances, dinner parties, corporate events, festivals, weddings and parties. For that true musical Experience, a trip down memory lane relaxing and listening to old time favorites to light romantic classics over dinner or to make you feel the beat to get your party rocking, you’ll surely be entertain in true Cape Town style.