Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let's do the time warp again

It was the highlight of many a weekend in our small community – the dance. An old exhibit hall at the Umatilla County fairgrounds was our equivalent of an under-age club or dance hall.

The corrugated metal building wasn’t much to look at on the outside, but on the inside – with the music pulsing and the only illumination coming from the reflection off the disco ball and an array of colored lights and throbbing strobe – magic happened.

Or it seemed like magic to a geeky kid high on adolescent hormones and endorphins.

It wasn’t that I was some Eastern Oregon Denny Terrio or something. Far from it. It’s just that that’s where the girls were, at those Thompson Hall dances.

I don’t remember the names, or faces, of the girls I was fortunate enough to dance with. And if truth be told, most of the times I danced it was probably because a girl asked me. I was painfully shy, and terribly afraid of rejection. Still am. I’ve always placed too much importance on such events.

And back there, somewhere in the darkness, was the DJ, spinning the records that made toes tap, hearts race and hormones rage. The music man, DB, played the songs that got the kids rockin’ and grooving, everything from AC/DC to the BeeGees, Black Sabbath to Cheap Trick, and Pat Benatar to Blondie. And he played the slow songs that allowed you to hold a member of the opposite sex close, mashing and swaying to REO Speedwagon, Journey, ABBA and Air Supply.

I hadn’t thought about those dances in years. The memories were lost in the vague half light smoke of a time long passed, like music on vinyl, square-bottomed knit ties and parachute pants.

But the memories came rolling back over the weekend at a winery in Forest Grove. Maybe that’s because I was at a wedding for a guy – S – who lived just a couple of miles down the road from me when I was in high school. So, as country folk, we were practically nextdoor neighbors.

S was several years younger than I was, but one of his stepbrothers, A, and I had been close friends, best friends, since second grade. That close friendship continued clear through college, where we spent several of our years there as roommates while seeking intellectual enlightenment, co-eds and beer. I ran into A’s dad, stepmom and two of his stepsisters the weekend before when I was back in Eastern Oregon for the Pendleton Round-Up. They invited me to the wedding.

They told me A would be there, and since I hadn’t seen him in years, I thought it would be nice to see how my former best friend was doing now. But it was also an opportunity to see another of A’s stepsisters, S’s sister M and husband B and their two daughters, whom I got
reacquainted with during my last year in Palm Springs.

The wedding was nice and simple, on a hill overlooking the vineyard. And afterward, we all gathered for the outdoor reception. At one point my old friend, A, turns to me and says: “Do you know who that is providing the music?”

Of course I had no clue.

“That’s DB. Remember DB? He used to do the music for all those Thompson Hall dances.”

Sure enough, there hung a banner with DB’s name and the name of his company. And there was DB, looking like he stepped right out of 1980, with hair and mustache appropriate for that post-disco era.

And as the sun set and the music played, it would be easy to mistake the date for a time 20 years earlier by the selection of songs coming through the speakers and the disco ball hanging up over a corner of the makeshift dance floor.

And there he was, that damn timid geek again, standing off in a corner, looking longingly at the dance floor and too afraid to ask anyone to dance. I thought I'd ditched that little pimple-face prick, who used to be me, years ago, and I completely blame his unwanted reappearance for the zits that seem to have attacked my neck that last few days.

Fortunately the groom’s sisters, L and M, periodically took pity on me and pulled me out onto the dance floor. Grooving to the oldies and dancing like it was it was 1982 all over again. Except I had on a sport jacket, not that brown leather Member's Only-style jacket I though was so cool for so long. And the Levi’s 501s had been replaced by dress slacks. And the tie was silk, not one of those damn knit square-bottom jobs.

But the music was the same. The DJ was the same. Only the location, hairstyles and wastelines had changed.


The G-man said...

This is, more or less, the post I was trying to make Sunday night when Blogger ate my homework. Of course, there's no such thing as recreating a post. The topic is the same, but, well, the post is, for better or worse, different.

Brat said...

Thank God the hairstlyes have changed. I had such big hair back then. I swear I put a hole in the ozone with my hairspray. I am making up for it now though, I rarely use it these days!

The G-man said...

I rarely use my hair either. But when you think about it, what use is there for hair? Oh, sure women flip it when they flirt and play with it when they're bored or nervous. But what's a guy supposed to do with this hair? Useless really.

Maybe that's why most of mine fell out. Well, except for the hair that's now sprouting out of places I didn't even know I had follicles. But no one needs to know that. Or that I'm bald. Or, well, I need to shut up.

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