You may wonder why it has entered my head to write a post on 8th grade dances. Well, I can tell you that the main reason is that I discovered the “Monster Ballad” station on Pandora. Further, my buddy and I had opened up a bottle of JW Green Label and I tell you, combined with the music, the memories just came flooding back.
You see, I have an uncanny memory but to really tap into it involves music and a bit of the liquor. Only then can I fully recall the exact emotions I had at that particular time. Sure, I can remember without any enhancements but it is the emotions that really light up the eyes and take you back in time.
So, in order to place myself in that time period I now have the Monster Ballads playing and have consumed exactly three Samuel Adams beers in preparation. It is also 2:00am on Saturday Morning (Friday night as far as I’m concerned) and I can think of no better time to get these thoughts down.
Without further delay, let us get started.
The 8th grade dance is perhaps one of the most exciting events of any adolescent, hormone-crazed youth. You have just reached the magical age of puberty and for some odd reason simply cannot get the females out of your head.
Administrators may wonder how to increase tests scores among middle school males and engage in all sorts of cerebral activities. But let me tell you, the solution is to make the females wear those Catholic school plaid skirts down to their ankles. Anything less is simply a distraction.
During this time period we are still very shy and have trouble approaching the ladies.
Enter, the school sanctioned 8th grade dance. This is the time when you are actively encouraged to go up to a girl and touch them for an entire three minute song period!
The anticipation for 8th grade Catholic school dances is quite draining. It is the main event of the entire year! Your entire social network will be there and chances are you have a very intense crush on one of your classmates and this is your chance to get close to them!
The day finally arrives and you prepare first by taking a very thorough shower. Then it is time to dress and you will do so according to the fashions of the time. Unfortunately, my fashion period was in 1992 (holy crap I’m old) and for some odd reason we were led astray by the fashion forces that were.
What I’m referring to in what was considered fashion are Reebok “Pump” shoes or perhaps Air Jordans along with a kind of zebra stripped sweat pant called “Zubaz.” To complete this odd melange, a brand spankin’ new T-shirt was also required. For me, I chose to don “In Living Color’s” “Homey Don’t Play That” T-shirt.
So yes, Reebok Pump shoes with Zuba pants and a T-Shirt (brand new). To add to this disaster I also wore Old Spice cologne. Now this cologne was so old that it didn’t even have a spray nozzle but instead a cap that sucked up liquid and you would apply it to your wrists and neck.
I have recently been informed by my fashionable gay friends that the proper procedure when applying cologne is to spray and walk through. Well, I didn’t have this knowledge in 8th grade and applied it copiously using 1/4th of the bottle. I probably smelled like an old man trying to cover up the stench of gout but for me, I was the bees knees.
The day finally arrives and we have our parents, yes parents, drive us to a location where we have heard about but have exactly no knowledge of where it actually is. For me, I remember St. Agatha which could have been in the worst ghetto in the world but none of this mattered.
I walked in the door and you make a beeline for your friends. There could be nothing worse then simply entering and being all alone. So, you find this cocoon of safety and this will be your base of operations for the rest of the night. Should you have the courage, you will emerge from this huddle and actually ask a girl to dance but this is not assured.
The problem with girls is that they are also in their own cocoons and one must try to dislodge them to try and gain a dance. To add to this challenge you have to wait for the approximate right moment when the song is slow and they haven’t gone to the bathroom with the rest of their entourage. It is akin to catching a a minnow among her pod. You can thrust your hand in but if you do so too abruptly they all scatter and you’re just left with a handful of mud.
To add even more misery you have to get up the courage to put that hand in. The timing must be right and you must be confident in your objectives. It could happen that she flees and you end up having to ask a less desirable or even worse mingle back in with your huddle without your previous intention being recognized (you would be ridiculed), so concentration is paramount. OH The Pressure!!!!
There have been many a time when I left without even one dance. When this would happen I would be quite angry with myself. Simply overcome with the frustration of a severe hormonal imbalance and I’ve just blown any chance of a girlfriend (or momentary pleasure) for at least 4 months. (The average time between 8th grade dances).
But saying we do lay our nets properly and come up with the prize, it is a sweet sweet moment indeed. A song is in order.
So, our plans have worked out, we have the right song and SCORE!!!!! We almost must take a moment to simply bask in the glory but NO TIME MAN, NO TIME, BE COOL.
Now, the 8th grade dance is no lambada. They simply would lay their hands on our shoulders, you put yours on their waste and you turn in a circle. The first thing you notice is that you are SO DARN CLOSE to them! You can even smell the gum they are chewing!
Being so close may make your palms sweat (especially if you’ve caught the prize) so I would always be sure to wipe them on my Zubaz. LOL.
Now being 33, I’ve found that this experience no longer exists. I almost wish I could go through puberty again and GET ALL EXCITED. I think Chris Farley in Tommy Boy puts it best, but instead of a “sale” it is actually obtaining the dance of your dreams without blowing it! I wish I could have this enthusiasm again.
Yes, this is how it feels to try and get that dance. You have to have the courage to emerge from that cocoon and actually ask without “ruining the sale” and having them all swarm to the bathroom.
Further, as the peacock does you must properly display your feathers to be noticed. At that time period there was no better way but be able to DANCE. For our dances, there were two boys who could do so and should you read this you know who you are. 🙂
The song I associate their fancy footwork with is without a doubt, this:
The song goes on, a patch of dance floor clears and in sync they have everyone’s attention. Masterful it was.
I must also mention the absolute cluelessness when the DJ would play a song like “Do Me” in a Catholic School. I do not think “grinding” existed yet but if it did this is the song you would do it to.
Are you KIDDING ME? Yes, the administration let us play this song during the dances. You have NO IDEA what went through the heads of 8th grade boys by allowing this to happen. Too young to follow the instructions and having us wait at least another year for high school and the debauchery that went along with it. Unacceptable.
But, to end this post and gain some intense interest, I’ll relate to you my memories. No initials posted here because, hey, people will know.
1. Kissing – Two of my classmates decided they wanted to make out. So what did they do? They had their respective cocoons shield them from the prying eyes of the administrators while they locked lips. Unfortunately Catholic administrators have a second sight and ended up throwing an empty soda can at the offending students. Not a very romantic way to end a kiss but it was Catholic School after all and it is God’s will that we all have the sex drives of eunuchs until marriage.
2. Fashionable dances – At this time the fashionable dance was akin to running in place. Popular it may not be now but I challenge anyone to come up with a better workout. Further, acrobatics were involved and required one to grab his/her foot with the opposite hand and then jump through with the other foot. Agility is always desired among mates in the wild kingdom and I see no reason why this would not be fancied by the hormonally charged youth.
Finally there was the twist your ankles while advancing forward and tap a foot with your partner then retreat in the exact same motion routine. Exciting as a dance to a proper slow song it was not but at least contact was made.
3. Girlfriends/Boyfriends – There can be nothing worse then your desired partner having a girlfriend/boyfriend. This meant that they would dance with them the entire night and you had absolutely no chance. So, you just stay in your huddle, make jokes with friends, perhaps get a drink of water and WATCH IN COMPLETE AGONY.
4. Stink Bombs – Should you have no chance to dance with your desired mate there was always the good old stink bomb.
Stink Bomb: “A stink bomb or stinkbomb is a device designed to create an unpleasant smell. They range in effectiveness from simple pranks to military grade or riot control chemical agents.”
Now I do not believe we had access to the military grade bombs but even the commercial versions were quite effective in clearing out a room. So, while you look on in despair while your love is dancing with “Joe” the grade school basketball point guard, as a last resort, you could always let one loose to be sure to disrupt the dance.
Unfortunately you also disrupted the dances of 90% of all dancing couples who would be fleeing the room in disgust. The remaining 10% are the ones who are too darn excited to have actually gained a dance that the mind-boggling smell of flatulence isn’t enough to break their “I don’t notice anything amiss, do you” mind powers. If you’ve never experienced the stench of a stink bomb I can tell you that it is like a fart amplified by 1000%.
Then, the lights would turn on and Sister (insert name) would get up and in a very stern voice warn us that if it happened again the dance would end abruptly.
Well Sister whats-your-name, what you have failed to consider is that ruining the dance for everyone is NOTHING compared to not being able to dance with THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE and letting Joe the point guard get all the action. It’s called “The Nuclear Option!” Politicians use it all the time, look it up. ROFL!!
Finally, the lights turn on and we are all left either completely heartbroken having not obtained our 3 minutes of euphoria, OR, we did gain that dance and have visions of marriage and life ever-after dancing in our heads. Everyone scatters like liberals when Sarah Palin enters the room and we are doomed to wait, God forbid, until either the next dance where chances at a three minute spell of euphoria will again be low, to high school, where they get a little better, to college where,,,, well, where things are quite better to say the least.
Long live 8th Grade Dances!