Square One

I was dancing when I was twelve
I was dancing when I was aaah
I danced myself right out the womb
Is it strange to dance so soon
I danced myself right out the womb
I was dancing when I was eight
Is it strange to dance so late
I danced myself into the tomb
Is it strange to dance so soon
I danced myself into the tomb
Is it wrong to understand
The fear that dwells inside a man
What’s it like to be a loon
I liken it to a balloon
I danced

 

I was in a square dance club for a few years in junior high school.  This may come as a surprise to people who know me now because square dancing  doesn’t seem like something I’d be interested in now or then. I didn’t like country music.  If it wasn’t on the top 40, 95BBF, I wasn’t interested.

I was friends with Greg S, who was in my grade, and his brother Tim, who was a year older.  They also have a younger brother and an older one.  I spent a lot of time at their house and a few doors down at another friend’s house. Both houses were always fun places to be, with so many siblings running around.  My sisters were both out of the house so my house was very quiet by comparison.

The S house was also where I decorated my first Christmas tree.   I just happened to be over when it was tree trimming time.  I loved it!  The other kids were somewhat bored by it but this Jewish kid couldn’t get enough.  I think I decorated half of the tree myself.

I was riding my bike through the neighborhood one summer night, looking for something interesting to do. Maybe a pick up basketball or baseball game.  My mitt was always hanging off of my bike handlebars, just in case it was needed.  Baseball was everything to me back then(playing it, going to Red Wings games, collecting cards, pouring over the Sporting News stats every week). I was riding down Barry Road, approaching my friend’s house, when I came upon an unexpected scene. Their driveway was filled with older kids, maybe thirty or forty of them.

Greg and Tim’s parents were into square dancing and decided to start a club for the kids and their friends.  The club was intended for kids in grades six thru eight and I was about to enter fifth grade.  Our junior high was grades five through eight.  Despite being younger, since I was already there, they let me join in on the fun that summer night.

Mr. S had a microphone and speaker set up in the driveway and he and Mrs. S set about teaching us some basic square dance moves.  I was nervous about it because, as a nine year old boy, I wasn’t all that interested in girls.  Having to actually talk to girls and partner up with one made me a bit nervous.  As it turned out, it was a tremendously fun night.

At the end of the evening, Mr. and Mrs. S(both always dressed up in their best square dance attire) passed out flyers to all of us and announced they were starting a real club, which would meet at the Parkside school gym every Thursday night during the school year.  Since I happened upon that scene that summer night and apparently didn’t make too big a fool out of myself, I was allowed to join the club despite being a year too young.  It’s one of my favorite memories from junior high.

In addition to the square dancing, they also taught us how to line dance.  I wish I could remember the songs that we danced to.  The only line dance song I can remember is Jive Talkin’ by the BeeGees.  I can’t remember any of the square dancing songs. I think one of them was King of the Road but I might be mixing up my memories because, strangely enough, that was one of our “end of the night, sing-a-long” songs in college.

Winters seemed much longer to me when I was younger than they do now.  Maybe they were harsher or maybe it’s just a kid’s perspective.  Regardless, going to that Parkside school gym every week was a wonderful way to get out of the house and be active.  We were exercising like crazy, sweaty messes by the end of the night, but it never felt like exercise.  It just felt like fun.

The square dance club went on for about two or three years.  We had sign up sheets for bringing snacks and drinks each week.  I always looked forward to going and it was a highlight of my week. Mr. and Mrs. S moved their family across town though and the square dance club came to an end when they left.  If I close my eyes, I can still picture them decked out in their finest threads and Mrs. S twirling around the school gym in her fancy dresses, teaching us the moves.

Trailer for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain’t got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means
King of the road.

Third boxcar, midnight train
Destination, Bangor, Maine.
Old worn out clothes and shoes,
I don’t pay no union dues,
I smoke old stogies I have found
Short, but not too big around
I’m a man of means by no means
King of the road.

I know every engineer on every train
All of their children, and all of their names
And every handout in every town
And every lock that ain’t locked
When no one’s around.

I sing,
Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain’t got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means
King of the road.

 

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