L is for Line dancing and Long distance friendships. Twelfth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
Couples dancing was popular on American Bandstand in my early teens (1963-65).
But as the sixties progressed, more liberating freestyle dances like the Twist, the Mashed Potatoes and the Jerk took over.
Technically, you still had a dance partner for many of these — but now you just danced in their general vicinity, with no leader or follower.
Yet my great passion was line dancing in its various permutations — and I loved participating in these group dances at our school soirees. One of the first group dances I learned was Little Eva’s “Loco-motion” — more of a chain dance with one dancer behind the next, which came out in 1962, the year I started Junior High.
Then there was the Stroll, with dancers facing one another and couples taking turns free-styling down the center. This dance began in the 1950s — but it was re-adapted throughout the sixties, as shown in the video below.
The mysterious Wiggle Wobble
But the line/chain dance that appears in my teen diary — for which I can find no video — is the Wiggle Wobble.
On Jan. 19, 1964, right before I turned 14, I noted in my diary that a Junior High girlfriend told me she danced with “a whole bunch of kids” at the recent dance — and “she said it was the Wiggle Wobble.”
Wow, I must have missed that school dance! But by the next one, on Valentine’s Day, I was all caught up with the Wiggle Wobble — which seems to have combined the stroll with a chain dance, judging by my diary entries.
Feb. 13, 1964. Dance Tomorrow!! Feb. 14, 1964. The dance was a “BLAST”!…I led a chain through the middle of the Wiggle Wobble 5 times!!
LONG DISTANCE FRIENDSHIPS
When I wasn’t busy with dances or crushes or school work, I maintained long distance friendships with several teens I’d met through the Dave Clark Five Fan Club — or at the Altamont Fair during summer visits to my grandparents.
You’ve already met Bobbie and Marty from Burnt Hills, N.Y. — two girls who responded to one of my DC5 ads on Albany radio. Soon a third girl, a friend of Bobbie’s nicknamed “Hyish,” joined the team — and amongst us we carried on a lively, old-school correspondence (yep, with pen, paper, envelopes and stamps!).
More friends from the fair
In the summer of 1964, my grandmother got me my first payroll job — and at 14, I worked at the Altamont Fair during it’s two-week run in August. (More on this in my Letter W post.)
Of course there were other teens working at the fair, too — along with nightly DJ’d dances — and by the fall I was writing to several teen boys and girls I’d met there.
These long distance friendships were fun and exciting at the start — but challenging to maintain over time. Phone calls were expensive, there was no Internet or email, and who knew when we’d see one another again?
Yet during my early teens, my fleeting long distance friendships helped me mentally escape the confines of my small suburban town — and set my sights on the wider world I would enter as a young adult.
Up next, M is for Margot, Moose and ancestral connections. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!
© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.