DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!
by Mike Blakesley
Originally published approx. 1986
in the Forsyth Enterprise News
It happened when I was in the seventh grade. We were
in our books during our "study period" when a strange kid I'd
never seen before walked into the room and tacked a small poster
on the bulletin board.
The "poster" was printed in ballpoint pen on a torn-out sheet
of notebook paper. "DANCE," it said. "7th and 8th Grades. 8:00-12:00,
F.H.S. Gym, October 1st."
In all my years at Immaculate Conception School, I had never been
to a dance. Since the nuns who were our teachers didn't believe
in that sort of thing, we never had dances. This was quite a
shock, being invited to a dance by the public school. As far as
I knew, it had never happened before.
I was a little nervous about even going. For one thing, I didn't
know how to dance. But I figured it might be a good way to score
a few points with a girl I had a massive crush on. Jodi
I walked into the high school lobby with my friend Arlin Aldrich.
(He had never been to a dance either). As we paid our dollar
apiece to get in, the girl selling tickets said "Well, it's that
little Blakesley kid." Things were not off to a glowing start.
We entered the gym. The place had been gaily decorated with ten
or twelve feet of white crepe paper and a few black-light
posters. Somebody had brought in a rotating colored light (the
kind you point at a silver Christmas tree). The light was aimed
at the ceiling, giving a kind of dull, colorful glow to the
proceedings and casting long shadows.
A $99 Woolworth's phonograph equipped with "hi-fi" plastic
speakers sat on the bleachers and cranked out the latest hits.
There were a few people I knew in the crowd, but mostly there
were very large-looking 8th graders, most of whom couldn't
stand the sight of me (or any 7th grader, for that matter).
Jodi Samuelson was nowhere to be seen. Somehow, I knew I was in
for a swell time.
Arlin swung into action immediately. He was on the dance floor
almost before he had taken his coat off. I thought back to the
advice my parents had given me: "If you don't feel like dancing
right away, just sit on the sidelines and listen to the music
until you're in the mood to dance."
I was sitting there, minding my own business and waiting for a
dancing mood to strike, when three or four of the meanest-looking
graders spotted me. They knew I was unaware of the
unwritten rules of
junior-high dances, one of which is: "No one shall
be required to dance
if he doesn't want to, unless he's a short kid
with glasses from another
school, in which case he will dance or
risk being beaten to a pulp."
They closed in on me. "Why aren't you dancing?" They knew full
It was because I was chicken.
"I don't feel like it yet," I said. Then, much to my surprise, they
I was a little relieved for a while, but then a song called "Dizzy" by
Tommy Roe came creaking out of the plastic speakers.
I hated that song anyway, but I was soon to hate it
because I was confronted by a girl named Brenda, an eighth
who I knew despised my guts even more than most of the guys did.
She fixed me with a look of disgust and said, "You wanna dance?"
she'd been put up to it by the four nice fellas I'd talked to
so I said, "No, thanks."
I was instantly grabbed from behind by six or eight hands. "Oh, yes
will," they shouted, and then they dragged me, kicking and
onto the dance floor. Tommy Roe sang, "I'm so dizzy,
my head is
They dropped me in the middle of the gym floor. I could see the
colors of the Christmas light on the ceiling, and I could feel
of eyes boring through me as they wondered why "the
kid" was sitting on the floor in the middle of a dance.
At that point I figured it was either "dance or die," so I looked
for Brenda. I didn't see her, and my battle plan instantly
"head for the bathroom."
I emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later and hung around
punch bowl for the rest of the evening. It's a good thing it
spiked, or I'd have been a basket case.
From time to time I would sneak a peek though the gym door
could see my friend Arlin in there, having the time of his life.
Jodi Samuelson spent the entire evening dancing with Howard Tait.
Now, a few years down the road, I love to dance. I guess it's
just one of those childhood things you grow out of.