Author(s): Pamela Rushby
Going to a war is just about the last thing on sixteen-year-old Kathys mind. It is the 1960s, there are miniskirts to wear, Beatles and Stones music to listen to and discos to go to. There is the Vietnam War, of course, but that is way in the background. While training as a hairdresser in Brisbane, Kathy gets a part-time job as a go-go dancer in a city disco. Her protective older brother, Mick, keeps a close eye on her. But when Mick turns twenty, he is drafted, and sent off to the army. That brings the war a lot closer, Mick could end up in Vietnam. Then Kathy sees an advertisement for an audition for a touring entertainment troupe. Full-time entertainment work! She eagerly goes along to the audition with a fellow dancer, Gaynor. It looks like a great job, only catch is, the tour is in Vietnam. Kathy still wants the job. Kathy and Gaynor are approached by another auditionee, Layla. She suggests they would have more chance of getting the job as a trio. They have fifteen minutes to put an act together. And they do it. They will now, Layla tells them, be known as the Hipchicks. Their trademark will be their knee-high white boots. They get the job. Vietnam is a total eye opener. Firstly they are offered a two-week job touring American hospitals. The girls sing for boys who'll have to live without a leg, or an arm, or an eye. And for some boys who won't live at all. Then the real tour begins. The Hipchicks travel around Vietnam in trucks, aircraft and helicopters. They're a raving success. The soldiers start to demand them. 'Where's the boots? We want the boots!' The girls cope with heat that rots their wigs and costumes; with travelling every day and performing every night; with the ever-present danger of bullets and bombs. They cope - until ... One night, performing in a remote American-army camp, a soldier with a grudge against his sergeant takes a shot at him. Just one shot. But that's all it takes. And Layla's right in the way. Kathy and Gaynor, stunned, escort Layla's body home. They don't go back to Vietnam. The Hipchicks are finished. But every year, on one special day, Kathy and Gaynor attend a dawn service at the war memorial. They wear their Hipchick white boots. And they give their own, special Hipchick salute for Layla - and they remember when the Hipchicks went to war.
Pamela Rushby was born in Queensland, and has worked in advertising, as a pre-school teacher, and a freelance writer. She was a writer and producer of educational television, audio and multimedia for the Queensland Department of Education for sixteen years, and now freelances in children's and young adult fiction and non-fiction; scriptwriting; and multimedia writing/designing. Pamela has had over 100 books published, including the young adult novels CIRCLES OF STONE (2003) and MILLIONS OF MUMMIES (2006). Pamela has two children and two grandchildren, and lives in Brisbane with her husband, a three-legged cat and six visiting scrub turkeys.