Re: Teen Clubs & 1960s Bands

12/05/13 - posted by jb

The most ecumenical acts I can recall are the collections of kids who would show up at teen dances in the 60's,regardless of faith and destination, which proved no barrier or deterrent for hormones and happiness. That steaming condenser of English Leather, Jean Nate and stolen holiday bourbon would boil over as the garage bands of yore burned it up with Gloria, Louie Louie and the ultimate lottery ticket to sweaty cheeks and swaying hips...House of the Rising Sun. And while little of this compares to the moves kids have now with their casual level of sexual familiarity, in a way it seemed more provocative and lasting.

My first dances where at Johnson's Bath House in Boyes Springs twisting the Summer nights away with my sisters and the occasional older doll who thought I looked "cute" with my flat-top and fenders and would take me out on the floor. My charm with the ladies peaked at age 9 and had been down-hill till Shortcake took mercy on my soul.

There were Jr. High dances at the Rec Center near Patrick's firehouse then Westmoor's Teen Club and venues such as St. Stephens, St. Ann's and the Jewish Community Center on Brotherhood. I belonged to an International Jewish youth group and we'd go to dances all over the East Bay, most-often getting lost and showing up late. One night, three of us hooligans met 3 pretty gals and took them out to a coffee shop near Lake Merritt. My "date" was very perturbed when I hurried her out as she was fixing her bee-hive. And all of the girls, even more so, when they realized we'd pulled a runner. Can't imagine why they demanded we let them leave in their own car, tear up their numbers and never call them...Ever!

Definitely didn't hook up with Bonnie Parker that night and probably a good thing: It was right out of Animal House but then most of my high school daze were and, given a willing moll for an accomplice, I'd be writing this from a cell. Still, back then it was easier for me to run out on a restaurant tab than ask a girl to dance. Shy guy that I was, I also couldn't keep a beat or rhythm going with a metronome. Even dancing lessons proved futile and I resigned myself to the wall of flowers, waiting for a slow song and praying I didn't step on the poor girl's feet in the event she said "yes."

Cynthia Caldwell was one of the girls who always said yes and really made me feel like a million bucks, slowly holding on,her arms around my sloping shoulders and her cheek pressed against mine. I can still feel her damp hair as I write. We'd smile but never talked much and I sadly heard she passed away not long after graduation.

In my Senior year, more time was spent going to the Fillmore and Avalon and I have a vivid memory of sitting 10 feet away from Janis Joplin because most everyone else was up dancing away from the front of the stage. I thought she was singing and shaking just for me. Maybe I should have asked her to dance...or to go out for a cup of coffee. I'll bet she ran real fast.


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