Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Slow-Dancing With Boys

Fragrances may be strong memory triggers, but music I listened to in my pre-and-teen-years conjure such vivid memories that I can't help but grin!

Tunes like Acker Bilk's mellow Stranger on the Shore and Henry Mancini's moving Moon River remind me of my first slow dances with boys. At the age of 13, we were all terribly naive about anything romantic, but hormones were starting to shape our imaginations.

During after-school dance classes we learned the box step, cha-cha, waltz, jitter bug and other, choreographed dances popular during the early 60s. There were no gyrations or grinding and only kids that were actually going steady got close for slow dances. The rest of us kept a tense distance to ensure propriety.

I remember the dreamy thoughts I had after dancing with equally shy boys. They concentrated so hard on getting the steps right and not brushing too close to the girls' slightly-developing bodies that their right hands left sweat marks on the backs of our dresses. Of course nerves made the girls' hands equally moist.

THEN. . . in came the twist, monkey, mashed potatoes, froog, the jerk and other dance styles that involved flailing arms and booty shaking, but no hand-holding. I'll admit that they were fun, but they removed romance from dancing. Yeah, there were a few slow dances thrown in to let us catch our breath between fast dances, but it wasn't the same.

Now that I'm a middle-aged type, I think I understand why adults wanted us to stay pure as long as possible -- innocence never can be reclaimed once it is lost or stolen. How sad that today's children seem compelled to give it away so early.

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