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180219 February 19, 2018


Keep on Dancing
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    This week I will share with you a few more of the dances of our times. For now I would like for you to look back with me at some of the physical dances themselves, and then later on we might recall some of the dance places and bands. Please feel free to send me your own comments on any of the subjects as we continue this "stroll" down memory lane.

The Stroll

   The Stroll became popular in 1958, which was a little early for many of you, but it stayed around for quite a while and I remember doing it at some of the early boy-girl parties I attended. I still enjoy doing this little dance at our reunions, if I can ever find a band that plays music I can stroll to.

    The Stroll was a slow rock 'n' roll dance and Billboard first reported that "The Stroll" might herald a new dance craze similar to the "Big Apple" in December 1957.It was recorded by the Canadian group The Diamonds and the original version of the song reached #4 on the Billboard pop charts, #5 on the R&B charts, and #1 on the Cashbox charts.

    In the dance two lines of dancers, men on one side and women on the other, face each other, moving in place to the music. Each paired couple then steps out and does a more elaborate dance up and down between the rows of dancers. Dick Clark noted the similarity of the dance to the Virginia reel.

    When 1950s nostalgia came to the forefront in the 1970s, The Stroll saw renewed public awareness. It was used in the film American Graffiti (1973) during the scene at the high school dance and is mentioned in some of the lyrics in the musical "Grease."

The Swim

    Bobby Freeman released "C'mon and Swim" in 1964 and it reached number 5 in the US Pop charts. Along with it came the dance moves for "The Swim" which mimics the motions of swimming. The Swim is closely related to the Twist, a dance craze ignited by the rise of rock n' roll music in the 1950s and 60s. While there are many ways to do the Swim, the basic dance combines the lower body movement of dances like the Twist and the Pony with arm and hand motions that resemble swim strokes.

The Jerk

  Released as a single in 1964 on the Money record label, "The Jerk" was a hit for the Los Angeles band the Larks. In the same year, the Miracles wrote and recorded "Come on Do the Jerk". The Capitols performed a 1966 hit song called "Cool Jerk", written to capitalize on the dance's popularity.   

    The Jerk is similar to the monkey. The arms move and hands move as if conducting. The wrists cross in front of the chest and then sweep out in time, or at half time, with the music. The hands are up at face level. On count 1, the outward sweep, the hands are quickly pushed out, giving the jerky motion. For a little more style, the fingers may be snapped on the two outward movements—the first and third counts of the hand motion.

        Memphis, TN - Sue and I just returned from a five day trip to Hawaii, which limited the internet connection time I had available and time to work on last week's issue. But, be honest, if you were in Hawai'i would you rather work on a computer or go walking on the beach? While there I got to play golf and the next day go snorkeling with two sea turtles. No, I did not golf with the sea turtles, just swam with them. It was my eighth vacation to Hawaii and I still find new things to do on each trip. We went over and returned on an Air National Guard C-17 cargo plane and stayed most of the nights at Pearl Harbor Navy base. However, on the last day I was finally able (thanks to a late cancellation) to get a room on the top floor of the Disney Aulani Resort and Spa and had a great time enjoying the recreational facilities there. My favorite one is laying on an inner tube and floating around the lazy river.

Whiz Chiz
Collins (C.E.) Wynn
LHS '64

    THE SETTING - Starry, starry summer night on the isolated stretch of Jones Valley Road near the family cemetery just beside the road in 1965 or so. Four or five 17-year-old boys are riding around in the Blue Goose trying to think up something to do. 

    THE STORY - Goose (the driver of the Blue Goose) stops on the side of the road near the cemetery and we all get out and stand around smoking, joking, and talking about girls (what else is there?) for a few minutes. 

    Goose notices that Mike Chisum has wondered away from the car and is some feet away over near the cemetery not paying any attention to us.  In consultation with Mike (Agitator) Smith the remainder of the pack  immediately hatches a plan where the rest of us are going to jump back in the car, roar away, and leave Mike standing there in the dark all alone in a cemetery with his pencil in his hand. Which, of course, is what we immediately do. 

    Everyone knows that the best humor in the world is your friend's agony. Anyway, as we are speeding away, Chiz (Mike Chisum), being the quick thinker he is, decides "hey, I'm not staying here in the dark alone" and jumps for the hood of the car as it passes.  He gets just enough of a grip on the windshield wiper to pull himself up to where he is laying flat on the hood as we gather speed and rocket off into the night. For some reason, Goose chose that moment to stop (I’m sure out of concern for Chiz’s safety) and slammed on the brakes causing the Blue Goose to start skidding violently from side to side down the road. Unfortunately Mike's grip on the windshield wiper could not withstand the G-forces at work (ah, another physics lesson) so he continued on down Jones Valley Road at 30-40 miles an hour alone and in mid-air with only the thin fabric of his Levi's between his butt and the asphalt. 

    Man, when he finally stopped it was a bloody mess. He had gouged out a spot on his left buttock the size of a large frying pan. He carried a scab for the better part of a year and probably still carries a scar today. If he had not been somewhat relaxed it would have killed him. In fact, I think we were all pretty well relaxed at the time.  As a side note, a year or so later both Jim Shelton and Mike Chisum were involved in heavy combat fighting in Vietnam and both came home heroes.