No Dancing, No Clothes

I NEVER dance or to draw very well. Bizarrely, and in a silly way I never really learned to dance. It's odd, because my mother had won Lindy contests in her day, and taught all my sisters, but never me. I'd had some musical training and I grew up in the Dick Clark Dance Party Hullabaloo world of the sixties. Those were the indisputably cool things of those days. I did like to go to the Sock Hops and CCD sponsored neighborhood dances (Jewish Girls were there....they could all dance).

I always wanted to dance with the prettiest girl I could find, the one who was a fabulous dancer, as well. I often did. Find her. And dance with her. I muddled through, monkey-do. 

When Bye Bye Birdie tryouts were scheduled, I was selected to be one of the players....not a speaking part, just one of the members of the Singing/Dancing backup troupe. I was very happy. Not that I'd been selected, but that Tara Bledsoe, the first girl who ever dumped me, was asked to leave the stage early.

A group of fifty or so teens, eager for their on stage premier, gyrating and hopping around on the stage, then the casting director would hold up his hand, the piano would stop and he'd say, with a very polite "...thank you SO much...," he'd ask two or three to step down off the stage until he got to the twenty or so 'talented' kids he wanted.

It was a sort of sick, demeaning double meaning musical chairs. 

Shortly after I joined the rock band. The next Beatles, surely. And for too many years I just watched the dancers....picking out the girls I could be chasing if not for this stupid bass guitar, playing the same stupid tunes every night. It was tawdry. A belt-buckle polishing youth flail-a-rama. A musical meat market.

I learned the notes, but never the steps.

As for the drawing, actually, I watched the art students draw. They drew me.

When the scholarship stopped and the days of no money dawned I started earning at night working the sticky floor of a popular bar. Days, I opted for the modeling job in the arts Department. It paid very well and I was already taking sculpture classes there so the landscape was familiar. The idea of standing naked in front of strangers was, strangely, not daunting. It was the sixties and 'everything goes' had become my new philosophy. The clothes came off so easily, then.


North Chesterfield, VA

Jay CalhounComment