Line dancing and Long distance friendships #AtoZChallenge

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.

LINE DANCING

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!).

https://pixabay.com/vectors/letters-write-envelope-post-stamp-2759228/
Pen, paper, envelopes and stamps. In my early teens, I maintained long distance friendships with teens I’d met through the Dave Clark Five Fan Club, or at the Altamont Fair during summer visits to my grandparents near Albany, N.Y. — and we carried on a lively, old-school correspondence. Graphic: Pixabay

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.

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27 thoughts on “Line dancing and Long distance friendships #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Ah Molly – your posts and the comments make me smile. Penpals! Always so exciting to get a letter from a far flung exotic clime. And dances, I just loved them but in the 70s it was a very solo affair I’m afraid.

  2. I think Line Dancing is a continuation of earlier 18th and 19th century dance forms but without any strict rules. The old quadrille and contradanses were a kind of party dance craze too that involved couples moving to step counts and shifting partners. In the 17th and 18th century there were “dancing masters” who taught these important social skills to the young folk of the day.

    Today’s youth depend on a DJ. When my son engaged one for his wedding I learned that a good DJ needs to be very adept at selecting music for mood, tempo, and even musical key. The DJ’s equipment had a display and controls almost as complicated as an aircraft cockpit.

  3. My version of “line dancing” was the Hustle. We were only allowed to have 2 school dances per year. It surprised me to read your school required you to have a date to go. Seems harsh in a way. Fun memories!

    1. I loved the Hustle — which came along later. Wow, you only had two dances per year? Hardly seems like enough. Luckily, only the teen proms at my school required a date — you could go on your own to the others.

  4. I know or danced the other dances, but the Wiggle Wobble is a new one to me. You were quite the extrovert as a teen….are you still one now? Has Facebook or social media taken the place of snail mail correspondence for you?

    1. Yes, still extroverted — and I still love to dance and connect with people! Social media has been great for keeping up with neighborhood and school friends who are now dispersed all over — and I routinely use email for correspondence. But I maintain contact some of my mom’s friends by snail mail.

  5. My mom was voted best dancer of her class. I bet she did a few of these line dances back in the day.

    While I didn’t have too many long distance friends during school, pen and paper was how I kept in touch with all my high school friends when we all went our separate ways for college. I still have most of the letters too. I reread a few of them recently and it brought back fun memories.

    1. Kudos to your mom! I also have a pile of letters I got from friends during college — who became the new “away” people when we headed to college.

  6. Hi Molly – I remember watching Dick Clark as a young teen too. Loved the stroll but I went to a Catholic school and didn’t go to many dances. Sad because I love to dance.

    1. I must start pumping my Junior High friends to see if anyone can remember the Wiggle Wobble steps. It didn’t make the “greatest hits” of line dances — but apparently I loved it!

  7. No, I don’t remember a WibbleWobble, although I remember the others.
    Dave Clark Five … I was in love with them for a while 🙂 Catch Us If You Can was on tv in the autumn, and I managed to get quite a way through it, marvelling at how young everyone was… but as I sat through it about five times at the cinema (those were the days when you could just stay in your seats and see the next showing!), I couldn’t sit through it again. Fun, though.
    Thanks for visiting my guest post at the A to Z today 🙂

    1. I have also been amazed at how young the performers were — not much older than us fans. And in the Dave Clark Five video I posted, they seem to be having so much fun! Glad you remember them — and “Catch Us If You Can!”

    1. Mashed Potatoes was one of the TOP dances in the 1960s! Before the pandemic, there was a bi-monthly dance here in NYC called the “Sock Hop” where some of us oldsters got to break out our 1960s dance skills. Hoping it comes back when things are safer.

  8. Molly,

    I grew up listening to Grand Funk Railroad’s “The Locomotion” but I am very familiar with Little Eva’s. The song, either version, remains one of my favorites. When I was a kid the older kids always danced to their favorite 45s during lunch and by the time I got to junior high, the student council held charged dances in one of the classrooms at lunch. It was always so much to boogie to the latest disco hits. I can’t say I ever did any line dancing unless it was in exercise class in the 80s and that’s a stretch. I do love those dance videos like Zumba, what fun! I do remember the long distance calls was something you did only if you HAD to. It was so crazy expensive! I do recall having a Japanese pen pal when I was a kid but I can’t remember what grade I was in. The friendship didn’t last because international mail was expensive and it took forever to receive a letter. After becoming a mommy I picked up pen palling in the early 90s and before I retired this chapter in my life in early part of the millennium I had more than 150 pen pals from around the world, mostly in America. Still to this day, I touch base with a few of my pen pals. My attention has moved to other things but there’s a special place in my heart for the art of letter writing to this day.

    I’m sorry for falling behind with your series. I have no rhythm with catching up other than I’m just doing it. I have another Looney Tunes A-Z Art Sketch to share with you, check it out my illustration I named, Lunch. Come by when you can. 😉 Happy A2Zing!

    1. You’re so right about long distance calls. I can still hear my dad yelling, “That’s a TOLL CALL!” to get me off the phone promptly on the rare occasions when I was allowed a quick call to one of my away friends.

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