Picture this—1964—a high school dance. All the cute girls are dancing with their regular boyfriends. Some of the guys have broken through the line of wallflowers and asked some of the unspoken-for girls to dance. And there are several circles of dateless girls (myself included) dancing together to Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock. The dance floor is packed and everyone’s having a great time. We all know every word to every song, including the backup vocals and we don’t hesitate to sing out along with the band.
With the exception of seeing a sea of grey hair and bald heads, that’s exactly what it looked like at a Doo-Wop fundraiser dance put on by my friend’s tennis group last Friday night. In fact there were still quite a few teased, bleached bobs and weird perms in the crowd but we all revived our classic 60’s dance moves—some better than others. We twisted, slow-danced, jived, mashed potatoes and generally did whatever felt good in time to Roy Orbison, The Nylons, The Diamonds, Del Shannon, Paul Anka, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke and a long list of other hit-makers from the 50s and 60s.
A friend’s husband (a retired fire-fighter) provided non-stop dance partner services for the single ladies for most of the slow dances as we took turns cutting in. We bopped to songs beautifully delivered by The GoldTones, four guys in classy white sports jackets with black shirts and pants. I’m always amazed when I attend such events that more than 50 years have elapsed since we attended those high-school dances in the cafagymnatorium or Teen Town at the Masonic Hall. Back then, a fight might break out between some of the tougher guys having a smoke or a drink in the parking lot. But generally they were pretty tame affairs compared with the easy sex and copious supplies of booze and drugs at teen parties today. If anyone had sex in the washroom or parking lot at Friday night’s dance, they’d have returned to brag about it and we’d have erected a monument to them. Today, at least, no one in our crowd has to worry about getting pregnant and resorting to the unreliable Coke-douche. And we don’t stay out too late anymore—can’t stay awake that long. But we’re still cool. We still remember the words to all the songs and have a ton of fun. A little Buddy Holly or Dion and The Belmonts and we’re off. That’s all it takes to temporarily wipe out 50 years.