In my earliest memories of dancing, I’m under my auntie Nancy’s dining room table, (which had been pushed off to the side of the room), watching my mom, dad, aunties, and uncles all dancing on the hardwood floor to a never-ending stack of 45 records, dropping one after the other. I remember foot-high stacks of 45s all around the record player. The song that I remember playing most? Twistin’ the Night Away by Sam Cooke. Every time I hear that song, I remember auntie’s spontaneous dance parties. What are your earliest and fondest memories of dance?
Chubby Checker got us ready for dancing int he Sixties, but for me, Heard It Through The Grapevine will still get me instantly out of my chair and dancing. Your mom and I sound about the same age so we got to listen to some of the best music — and some of the best dance tunes — ever!
I haven’t thought about 45’s in 30-40 years. I remember those little pop-in plastic centers you had to buy in order to stack them on the record player. What memories. My first 45 purchase was Dream by the Everly Brothers, and I can still picture the store in which I bought it. That would have been a year or two before 1960.
The decade of the sixties was the best ever for music. So much variety, diversity and authenticity. Elvis had broken some of the mores of acceptable on-stage behavior so we were ready for the Beatles, and all the bands inspired my their breakthrough to a new era. The British invasion hit in about 1964, but by then the real story in this country was Motown, and soul music. There may have been Black musicians before, but this was their time to saturate us with their special brand of music. The Temptations were may favorite, then Aretha Franklin. Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Mary Wells, and others produced some fine music, too. All all of it was so danceable. They showed us some cool moves when they got up on the stage, and the rhythm of their music led us out onto the dance floor.
Certainly some of this music from Black tradition influenced the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, as did the Everly Brothers. There were a lot of streams of music flowing in the U.S. in the Sixties, and one cannot forget the new-age folk music either: Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and of course the songwriter for the decade Leonard Cohen. I don’t know what category to put The Mamas and the the Papas in, or the quintessential Beach Boys, but they were rockin’ too, when they weren’t surfing.
It was hard not to dance or sing along in the 60’s. The music was pure magic, and much of it so authentic, too. It grew out of something real, whereas in the 70’s it started to become trite and copycat. I won’t even say what I think of the disco era — it certainly did have dance music, but it was too formulaic and glitzy to be genuine.
Sorry, you younger folks. The Sixties music was the best, and especially through my college years, there was nothing I liked better than “dancing the night away” with my friends.