Today’s rambling will be about dances during the high school years (1964 – 1968) and a tiny rant about COPD. When I was a teenager (between 14 and 17) I loved to dance. I was not repeat not the shy one at the dances, I wasn’t the one holding up a wall in the corner. I was the one asking each and every girl to dance until someone said yes, and I would dance with her until she left me standing. LOL LOL. In Louisville where I grew up, there were plenty of places to dance. It was the mid to late 60’s, music was exploding, youth were rebelling, and sex was in the air (at least they said so). You had 4 or 5 high school dances in a year, you had dances at other high schools, you had “the Prom”, and in Louisville there were plenty of teen dance club/halls. I remember 2 of these dance club/halls, one was in Buechal, and the other one I remember going to was in J-town. Both of these halls/clubs were open on Friday and Saturday nights only (at least as I remember). In addition, on Saturday and Sunday nights there was always a teen dance at Presentation or Sacred Heart Academy for your dancing pleasure. The dance halls/clubs always featured live music. Even high school dances featured live music, for that matter I never went to a dance that didn’t feature live music. It was the 60s there were a million bands and 2 million wanna be bands. Generally the bands (at the clubs/halls) played both Friday and Saturday night, so if you didn’t like the Friday night band you could go to Town on Saturday to catch a different band. The bands played a great variety of good music all the top 40, stuff we were hearing all the time on AM radio. If I wanted to listen to rock the only station I remember playing rock was WAKY Radio 790 on the AM dial.
In reflection it was almost like “Saturday Night Fever” all the primping before going to the dance, always trying to figure a new move, or practicing the moves that hadn’t gone as planned the weekend before. Borrowing some of Dad’s Old Spice, and making sure I looked good before leaving the house. And probably the single most important thing was to wear leather sole shoes. If your soles weren’t leather you couldn’t put any good moves on the dance floor. Crepe soled shoes could get you killed, there were no slide to them at all.
I watched shows like Shindig and American Band Stand for some basic dance moves. I would steal a little from this guy on the show, and a little from that guy, maybe picked up some arm movements from another featured dancer on the show. Of course I also combined moves from some of the current dance crazes such as the Fly, the Mashed Potato, the Funky Chicken, the Penguin, the Swim and the Monkey. From there I invented my own moves (more and more like Saturday Night Fever), but I stole my signature move from James Brown, I had the James Brown slide down pat, even had the trailing arm motion. I looked GOOD! Smiling at least in my mind I did.
The Club in Buechal wasn’t that far away from my house, and I generally walked. If I was going to J-town I hitchhiked. I was always one of the 1st to show up, and one of the last to leave. Admission to these dances wasn’t much more than a dollar, but during this time period a dollar seemed like a bunch. Cokes and other refreshments were usually no more than 25 cents. The doors to the club generally opened 30 minutes before the band started, and I can remember being one of maybe 3 or 4 there when the music started. Smiling, and all of us were guys we didn’t dance with each other, we were way to cool to do that. The girls always seemed to be fashionable late, and they always came in groups. Usually 3 or 4 at a time, why I never learned to come to the dances a half hour after they started I will never know. Heck I am still one of the 1st to arrive at whatever event I am invited, though now I am also one of the 1st to leave LOL LOL.
I don’t remember but I suspect there was some type of curfew which required the clubs to be closed by midnight. But by then I was ready to quit. Considering that most songs of the time were 2 to 3 minutes long, and the bands went from song to song for 45 minute sets, a guy could end up dancing to 15 songs an hour. I would say that I averaged about 6 or 7 songs an hour. If I hooked up with a girl that wanted to dance, I could be out on the dance floor 10 or more songs in an hour, but that rarely happened. I did a lot of asking, but not a lot of dancing that 1st hour. The girls always drove the show. Once you got them dancing it was fun, but they never seemed as willing initially to dance, they always seemed to need to be asked 2 or 3 times before their courage and desire to dance won out. And no girl ever wanted to be the 1st to say yes when asked to dance. Of those 15 songs if you were lucky 2 or 3 might be slow songs. Sometimes the girl would actually dance a slow song with you, wow that was fun. I think I got to dance a lot for 2 reasons, I asked a lot of girls to dance, and I was a pretty fair dancer. But mostly I got to dance so much because I asked any girl and every girl at the dance to dance, and sometimes they just got tired of saying NO.
For as cool as I looked when I walked in the dance club door, but the end of the evening I looked like something the cat dragged in. I was sweaty, my hair disheveled, my shirt tail out, my shoes scuffed, and I was beat. But I was also looking forward to the next evening, the next dance.
I was going to spend some time bitching about how COPD took dancing away from me, but I can’t, I had long ago stopped dancing, long before I got COPD, long before I even grew older. I actively danced (from time to time) into my late 30’s. It was always fun, but my skills eroded, so I wasn’t as cool. But COPD didn’t have a damn thing to do with me stopping so I can’t blame it.
Have a great day, and as always your comments are welcome.