When I first thought about writing this article, I got giddy. Not kidding, 27 year old man laughing very fast and in a high pitch from thinking about writing this. School dances gave me some of the best memories I have. From every age level. Better than the sponsored nights at Skate U University, better than the lock-ins, dances were the best. I would like to walk you through what the dances were like at my schools and some of my memories from them.
My elementary school would have one dance a year, called The Sock Hop. It was really neat because the school really tried to give it a 50's feel. But I wasn't happy with just one dance, I tried to get more. I asked the principal why there wasn't. He told me it was a budget thing and there was a process to go through. I was told that the first step was proof that more people felt like I did, and needed at least 200 people's signatures. So I started a petition. I had help from a friend, who did the artwork for each sign-up page. I did get over 200, but some kids put in names like Abraham Lincoln and stuff like that, so nothing ever came of it. I tried though. Back to the Sock Hop now. As a kid, the feeling of being transported to a different era left me with a feeling of awe. I imagined it as a simpler better time even though as a kid my life was already pretty good. Some girls would wear poodle skirts, and I slicked my hair back for more than one dance.
Remember refreshments from elementary school? The classic orange drink was on tap, from jugs. Drink as many as you want! Normally that meant zero. Parents would also bring in baked goods, so for a short time there would be cup cakes and brownies and such. I remember the best thing about dances for my younger grades was being chased by girls. I loved it! I think we all desire to be wanted, and having a girl literally chase you gives that feeling in full. I might poke a girl in the back, or pull her hair and then sprint to the guy's bathroom laughing the whole way. A couple of my friends and I would hang out in the bathroom for awhile hoping the girls were gone, but secretly hoping they weren't. Sometimes after we came out thinking it was safe, the girls would be hiding around the corner and we'd quick sprint back in. Good times. My favorite memory from an elementary school dance came from fifth grade. The movie "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves" had just come out and the song "Everything I Do I Do For You" was played constantly. It was the last song of the night and I asked a very pretty girl to dance with me. She said yes. We did the standard young adult dance, my hands barely touching the sides of her hips and her hands gently resting on my shoulders. We would side step back and forth, that's it. But I have never lost the feeling of that moment. Everything was right in the world. I really felt like I would do anything for this girl and it made me happy that I could have such feelings. Looking back now, the innocence of it all is what warms my heart. I was only 12, just a kid. I wanted to protect her. I hoped to be frozen like that forever. At that point in my life, it was the most perfect moment I had ever felt.
Middle school dances were something else entirely. I work with juniors now and I see how tough it is. It's a time when you are unsure of yourself, don't know your own body, or feelings, are starting to discover the other sex, and just want to be accepted. I remember most of our dances had the cliche boys on one side, girls on the other. It took a lot of courage for a guy to ask a girl to dance even though you really wanted to. So again, I would hang with my buddies. No more having girls chase us though, we were way to mature for that. No, we would run and slide across the floor, much more sophisticated. Or we would run up a wall and see who could get the highest. All that nervous energy of wanting to be with a girl but too scared to ask had to be released somehow. The cool thing about my middle school dances is that the snacks got way better. They were no longer free, but you had your choice of nachos, popcorn, hot pretzels, soda, and slushies. The food was in a different part of the school, which was nice too. Middle schoolers are really starting to rebel and it's nice to have a different area to go to. My elementary dances were held in the gym and everything else was blocked off. So being able to roam a bit and having something else to do during slow songs relaxed me. Of course, I would try to dance with a girl once each time. Normally the last song, my dance moves not changing from elementary school. I don't really have a stick out memory like from before with a girl, but I remember group dancing was really popular in middle school and a lot of fun.
I don't know the title of the song, but we had a bunch of boys and girls all holding each other to the "I love you, always forever, here and now, always together" song. That was another one that was really popular at the time. Having strength in numbers, we all felt safe being in a group and had a blast dancing that way.
Now that I was a little older, I was allowed to go out for a little while after the dance. My friends and I would meet at the nearest McDonald's. We couldn't drive yet but it was close enough to walk. There we would rehash what had happened, who we liked, who slid the farthest, that sort of thing. After that, we would all go home. I remember one time my parents had already gone to bed so I stayed up and watched "The State" on MTV. It was the perfect ending to a great night. That show is hilarious! I was already in such a great mood, and for some reason I still remember watching that show and thinking what a great night I had had.
High school dances are a completely different league. Back to one room again, but that's probably because they didn't want kids sneaking off to have sex in the school. Now more comfortable with my body, but still shy around girls, dances were my chance to ask out a girl I like, and have a reason. There were three dances at my high school, Homecoming, Sweet Hearts, and Prom. You had to dress up for each one. This was actually a nice change. I liked looking sharp. Wearing a tie and suit jacket made me feel more like a grown up. Seeing all the hot girls in dresses was certainly a bonus. The thing that sticks out the most for me with high school dances, is the first time pulling off a girl's garter. I can run my hands up your leg and take off a piece of your clothing with your dad watching? Awesome! Of course, I was still not developed to have arms big enough to keeping it from sliding down, but we can save things that embarrassed me for another time. After the bazillionth picture, we finally get to go to the dance. Being even more mature now, I no longer slide on the floor, but still hang out with my buddies. I dance with more girls more often, but still prefer my group of buddies, or sitting at a table making fun of how stupid other people dance. We even brought a hacky sack to one dance, but were told to put it away nearly as soon as we started. "It's prom" was their reason to make us stop.
There a couple of things I would like to share about my prom before I end though. I wish I had the pictures with me, but I have moved and they are in a box somewhere. Because my buddies and I were so big into wrestling, I have a picture of me in The Rack, in my prom tux. It's a sweet photo. I have my head tilted all the way back so I can still look at the camera. That was the start of the wonderful night I had. Then at prom, I was given a great surprise. I had been voted onto prom court,1 of the 5 guys that our class had voted for. At the dance, we were all paired up. The coolest thing happened, I got paired up with the very first girl I ever liked.
When I was 5, I had just moved to a new school and met her, she was beautiful. We traded phone numbers that day. Hers in all different colors, mine in black (don't know why I remember that). So my very first girlfriend was now at my side at prom. Our school announced the king and queen in a different way though. Each girl was given a covered rose. Once we were all lined up in the middle of the dance the girl's were to uncover them. The girl with the white rose was the queen and who she was paired with was the king. My partner's glove got caught on the staple covering the rose, so she was the last to open hers. I'm sure you saw this coming, but we won. My kindergarten sweetheart was now my prom queen. We shared a slow dance alone while everybody else only got to watch. It was such a cool feeling to have won with someone I had such a history with. Not only that, my very good buddy (the one that put me in The Rack) ended up winning Homecoming King. Being such close friends and both being voted kings of our school was something that really bonded us.
That's about it for my reminiscing school dances. I hope you don't think my prom story is bragging or anything. It was a great moment in my life and writing about it and sharing it has been a great experience for me. I also just think it's neat how it was all connected. I am now no longer giddy, but I have a warm feeling in my chest after writing this and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.