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October 2018, vol 14 no 3

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Catherine Lee,

Twisting the Night Away

It’s the perfect kickoff to a neighboring town’s bicentennial – a barn dance complete with square dancing to a live band and an old-time caller.

Afterwards, my mind flashes back to another kind of barn dance, when I was a teenager. In the loft of a big old storage barn, most of the kids on the island paid twenty-five cents each to congregate while a suitcase turntable played the hot 45s of the early-to-mid 1960s.

We danced, every Friday and Saturday evening all summer long. The twist! The shag! The pony! The locomotion! The mashed potato! And yes, the occasional slow dance that allowed us to cuddle up, but not too much.

We loved to dance. It was our weekend pastime and also our social capital – dance, or be considered hopelessly square. We felt sad for those who wouldn’t dance, who never let the music carry them away.

These days, I feel sad for the young people sitting at home, meeting virtually instead of face to face and heart to heart. Some of my students tell me dancing is stupid. Others say it will make them look stupid if they try.

As I reflect on tonight’s barn dance, I realize almost everyone there was of my generation. And old and creaky as we are, we’re still dancing.

fiddle music
on the duck pond
swinging stars