|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • TRUE STORIES: Going to the Dance

  • Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn. — Guillemets



    If you didn’t get a chance to check out The White Grill Rock Reunion last Saturday out in Frontenac, you missed a real trip — complete with old time rock and roll and retro munchies fresh from the original White Grill recipe.

    • email print
  • Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn. — Guillemets
    If you didn’t get a chance to check out The White Grill Rock Reunion last Saturday out in Frontenac, you missed a real trip — complete with old time rock and roll and retro munchies fresh from the original White Grill recipe.
    It was ‘far out,’ to say the least. When The Gass Company and Seibrings started grooving on hits from the 1960s, and the dance floor filled up with dancers ranging in age from their late 50s through early 70s, it was like the Age of Aquarius meeting the twilight zone.
    That is to say, the Age of Aquarius’ sense of increased peace and harmony — as evidenced in hugs, smiles, eating and dancing — combined with a Rod Serling Twilight Zone feeling of finding oneself in dramatic mixture of suspense and otherworldliness — as evidenced in aging, bald, grey, and plump friends and acquaintances stepping out of the shadows to boogie together again after 50 years.
    Four hundred strong. I looked over the throng and imagined us all — full of hormones and hope — at the Roadhouse and Tower in the 1960s — at tables, in the balcony, or on the hardwood dance floor. Closed my eyes and listened to the music that carried us from then to now.
    Not just any kind music; late 1950s and 1960s rock and roll keyed on the drummer’s accentuated backbeat accompanied by bass, rhythm, and lead electric guitars, organ and saxophone. Music played for the express purpose of dancing.
    And dance I did with Linda. Danced like a sock hopper, a whirling dervish, a butterfly, and a bee. Danced like Fred Astaire, Zorba the Greek, and James Brown. Danced like an angel on the head of a pin. Danced like a jungle native. Danced like a messenger from God. Danced like a sinner and a saint alike. Danced till the stars shone through the rafters. Danced like nobody was watching. Danced a jig. Danced on the edge. Danced like I was waking from a dream. Danced inside the music; becoming music flowing out from the band, across the room, out the door and into the Aquarian, star-lit, balmy night.
    Between dances I visited, recalled, told stories, laughed, conversed, chatted and generally caught up on people’s narrative and state of being; picked up on the real, actual and current — as well as the imagined, invented, and obsolete.
    And there was plenty of wondering as well. As in:
    “Who’s that woman in blue jeans dancing with that guy with the ponytail and bald spot?”
    “That guy looks really familiar. Do you know his name?”
    “Was it The Beatles that had a hit with this song or The Rolling Stones?”
    Page 2 of 2 - “Didn’t you used to date what’s his name?”
    At one point, Mary Beth (Yoakum) Dunlavy said to Jeanne (Spigarelli) Cohorst, “He was my first date.” To which Jeanne replied, “He was mine too!”
    From time to time I stepped out the back door to cool off in the perfect fall night (65 degrees and breezy) visit with friends, and walk alone in the parking lot listening to the muffled sound of the band and crowd, which brought a mixed feeling of happiness, sadness, and longing that stretched back when I was 14 and eavesdropped through the screens at the Tower Ballroom.
    Back inside, I was dancing with Linda to The Gass Company’s second set when Ken Waltrip took a break from cooking burgers and fries, stepped to the microphone and — wearing a White Grill envelope hat — sang “Love Potion Number Nine,” which got the crowd gassed. But when he donned shades and sang an excellent cover of Roy Orbison’s “Cryin’” the placed flipped out!
    As I told Linda the next day, if you made me the offer of a free ticket to see The Rolling Stones in Kansas City or across the street to see The Beatles … or pay five bucks to dance to The Gass Company and Seibrings and eat White Grill burgers with old friends at the Frontenac Community Center, I wouldn’t even need to think it over.
    Which is to say, the experience was nothing less than sacred.
    Not that all that dancing didn’t have some deleterious effects on my 60-something body, it did. I woke up several times through the night with cramps.
    Each time it happened, though, I remembered the night’s fun, smiled, and recalled something I’d heard Barbara Spigarelli say. “You know,” she nodded with a smile as we walked back to our chairs from the dance floor, “nothing ever hurts when you’re dancing.”
    J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net
      • calendar