The Next Dance Will Be A Ladies Choice …

ymca-logo

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve noticed my penchant for including photos embedded alongside the words. These photos generally relate to the subject. This time, I’m going to deviate a bit, because I’m afraid I might find an image that’s actually for a feminine product, and that’s way off subject.

Baby boomers in our town frequented the local YMCA. It was built in 1886 and was largely unchanged during the boomer years. There were two bowling alleys, with pins reset by kids, who would receive nominal compensation for their labor … perhaps a soft drink or maybe a dime. There were pool and Ping-Pong tables. There was a gymnasium and a swimming pool. Certain days were exclusively for girls and other days were exclusively for boys. On boys’ days, nude swimming was permitted. Girls were apparently more modest and had to wear bathing suits.  Could that have anything to do with the hit song?

ymca_roxboroandmain_gym_1950sOn Saturday nights, the Y had a dance. The dance went from 7:00 PM until 11:00 PM. You had to be eleven in order to stay after 9:00 PM. One of the employees, a very cool guy, named Joe, spun 45 records. The floor was generally segregated with the girls on one side and the boys on the other. A few boys and girls even hung out together, but they must have known something the rest of us didn’t.

During fast dances, the girls danced together, while the boys watched, punched each other on the shoulder or flatulated (I don’t mean to be gross, but it happened).

Every so often, Joe would say the magic words, “The next dance will be a ladies choice.” Almost nothing followed except for the music.

Fifty years later, during the class reunion that motivated me to write this book, a group of senior citizens spent a lot of time discussing why that happened.

The males (somehow it’s not right to call a 67+ year-old man a boy) said one of two things. Either they didn’t know how to dance or they lacked the confidence to ask.

The girls (an ageless term) had more complicated answers. “You could only ask someone that none of your friends had ‘dibs’ on.” They remembered a “mad exodus of boys.” They had a crush on a particular boy and feared rejection.

Why were the baby boom girls so complicated?

9 thoughts on “The Next Dance Will Be A Ladies Choice …

  1. I graduated in ’67, and lived for the Sat. night dances at the “Y”, when I was a teenager. However, I remember many a day after school, in Jr.High, teaching guys how to do the latest dances. in our livingroom. My mother thought was so amusing, but also very bright. I always had someone to dance with….because I taught most of them how to dance! What fun and great memories were made at the those dances…..

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  2. In West Hartford, CT the “Country Club” kids had the more opportunities to learn to dance before they attended Cotillions and fancy dances. I remember a Junior High after school program teaching dancing for the regular kids. I still experienced the above mentioned reluctance of guys to ask girls to dance at the Y or any other dance.. One of my 9th Grade highlight was co-chair of an after school dance which involved decorations I am sure called “Pilgrim Rock”…obviously around Thanksgiving. Good Memories

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  3. We didn’t have a Y in Desert Hot Springs, CA but we did have school sponsored dances. My first one was in 6th grade and it started out we were all separated as usual, but soon we were pretty much dancing and mingling. I remember dancing a couple of dances with a boy name Rodney, who lived a few houses down from me, and other guys who were couldn’t bring themselves to go ask a girl to dance, lest he be rejected, felt bold enough to “cut in.” In those days if someone tapped you on the shoulder and said “cuts” you had to let him. You have to admit, most girls wouldn’t have said yes to the geeky guy that was now cutting in. It was awkward but sometimes you were surprised to find out that the geeky guy was actually pretty fun!

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  4. I don’t think I missed a Saturday night at the Y……And so happy when I could stay past 9:00… Teachers played the 45’s. I think Mr. Wintersteen, maybe Mr. Aurand

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  5. Oh my gosh….The famous Y dances….Never missed !!!…It is where it all happened…I remember one night we all went outside to watch a girl and boy kiss on the lips….Initials only….G.B. And L.G…..That’s all I got….

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