Feel the Vibrations
I can’t stop laughing about this. When I learned that the theme for this month was “White Party, Black Tie,” I immediately, and irrevocably, thought about my middle-school dances. Nothing on Earth could be whiter than that.
Once a month, my middle-class, small-town intermediate school would throw a dance in the gym for us 7th- and 8th-graders. From 7-10pm, they darkened that smelly, high-ceilinged place where we normally played compulsory basketball, and they let us dance, alone to the fast songs and, awkwardly, with someone you had the guts to ask during the slow songs. There were no decorations, and the music was provided by the only African-American teacher in the school, who moonlighted as a DJ, and who single handedly established the key musical memories for a decade of my town’s middle-school kids. (“Stairway to Heaven,” in its ridiculous length and un-dance-able last two minutes, was always the last song).
I probably shouldn’t even mention the outfits that, for some reason, seemed appropriate for me to wear to these events: my new teal Champion sweatshirt (I was proud of it), a long piece of bangs braided with beads on the end, a black vest; egads). The music (other than the aforementioned classic Zeppelin) should probably also be filed away and never revisited (who knew he would someday win an Oscar!), but I clearly remember stomping my way back from the bathroom (hello, lipgloss reapplication) to the beat of this song and holding the shoulders of some adorable, brace-faced kid on whom I had a terrible crush during this song. I looked forward to the dances all month long, and I can still remember the anticipation, as if something amazing might happen in a roomful of twelve-year-olds. Sometimes, it did, but that’s between me and the bleachers.
In hindsight, I’m glad that I enjoyed every hideous minute of those dances, because once we all got to high school, they disappeared; ten years beforehand, several seniors died in car crashes involving drunk driving, and the town was still too scarred from these events to allow dances other than the prom at the high school. In middle school, we had to be ferried to and from the dances by our parents; in high school, where many of us could drive ourselves and our friends, allowing us to arrive and depart independently was considered too dangerous. That’s changed now; back in my hometown the other week, I overheard a few kids who work at the local grocery store talking about the Snowflake Dance, so it seems some confidence has been restored. I have a feeling, however, that bad outfits (look that that guy’s pink shirt!) and worse music still prevail.