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Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Dave Randall

Posted on December 15, 2018 19:18

2 users

Shakin' it to pop music would make your tree blush, today. Alas, it was not always that way.

I'm no great shakes as a dancer. Two left feet. The dexterity of a marionette. I'm at an age where it's no longer necessary to embarrass myself, outside of a classy slow dance, with which I've never had a problem. It was a holiday memory that reminded me that dancing is not the simple act of moving to music that it once was--a home movie of my sister and I, pre-school and kindergarten aged, in front of the Christmas tree, doing The Twist with abandon, in 1962.

It was an easy dance. Horrified prudes assailed it as overtly sexual, but then prudes of that era were horrified by anything (the sexiest dances, like the Dirty Bird, never reached TV screens, so the prim and proper never knew what was happening outside the purview of the prim and proper). The Twist revolutionized dancing in popular culture. Couples were dancing apart for the first time since the dawn of recorded music, jukeboxes and radios. 

Expression and steps ruled the '60's. My older brothers, high school-aged and law abiding, chose to graffiti the back of our garage door with the names of every popular dance between 1963 and 1966: The Watusi, Boston Monkey, Frug, Jerk, Slop, The Twine, etc. Whoever bought that home and replaced that door, unknowingly discarded a piece of pop art. 

The true sexiness of that time shook and shuddered in cages at Discotheques like The Whiskey A Go-Go in Hollywood, and New York's Cafe A Go-Go. dancers like Teri Garr (yes, that Teri Garr), Toni Basil, and Lada Edmonds, Jr. shimmied on TV dance shows like (respectively) Shivaree, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. As seems all of the past, it may have been a more innocent time.

As the '70's came along, choreography and skill left every dance floor goofus, limbs flailing, to the derision of friends and haters alike. Essentially starting with The Lockers, performance type dancing purveyed. The carefree, hip-swiveling and steps of the '60's gave way to acrobatic Soul Train lines. That segment on the popular Don Cornelius TV series looked like a sexy version of the floor exercise at a gymnastics competition. 

Locking and popping weathered the Disco era--that cultural anomaly of resurgent touch-dancing and monotonous, effect and strings-driven music with a 4-4 beat. Disco, in the late '70's, meant taking dance lessons, generating a furious backlash among guys who danced only because girls wanted to, and did so with herky-jerky shuffling, beer bottles in hand.

From the Running Man, The Roger Rabbit, and the Moonwalk all the way to today's Twerking (a more than suggestive move that would have made heads explode in '62!) little has changed on the dance floor. There's nothing simple there... unless you're fluid of movement from birth. If your partner loves you, and you don't care what people think, then, by all means, go out there without worry, and look like Howdy Doody being tased.  

Dave Randall

Posted on December 15, 2018 19:18

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Source: TechCrunch
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