I must thank a new follower of my blog who goes by Indigoeverything for inspiring this post. Aside from having excellent musical tastes, (we heartily agreed on my last post), “Indy” wrote a funny post about “the Sandman“, your childhood bedtime companion, which you should check out. In reading that post, however, I thought about my own personal nighttime scary person, “The Boogie Man”.
Enter the BeeGees, John Travolta, and the multi-colored dance floor. DISCO! Is there anything scarier than that white suit from Saturday Night Fever? Yes, me in the 7th grade, aka “the Boogie Man”. I still have nightmares. Feathered hair, white pants, reversible belt, choice of either plain black or brown peacock feather silky shirt, gold Avon, “tiger claw” necklace AND matching bracelet. I swear it’s true but thank GOD there are no surviving pictures. I “knew” I was the epitome of 1970’s cool. I was already 6 feet tall in the 7th grade, so if there was any hope I might blend in and not stand out as the biggest geek there, I was about to ensure there was no doubt. Oh did I mention I had braces? Extra cool.
Of course Saturday Night Fever was also the launching pad for Denny Terrio and the “wonderful” 1970’s tv show, Dance Fever, lest we ever forget that “classic” time in American history. It’s frightening just to CONSIDER that time period as “history”. The American Revolution, The Civil War, The Industrial Age, The Disco Era. Something is very wrong with that and I know what it is. I lived it.
Determined to be the next disco king, I saved my money and bought a disco instructional album, complete with dance step footprints. I studied harder on those steps than on any test I had ever taken by that time. Those rigorous 6th grade tests were brutal, after all, but nothing compared to the Junior High Dance.
Start music from The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling peeks from around the corner of the school cafeteria. Never mind that he died in 1975.
“The year is 1977. These are the days of giant afros, disco, and wild bell bottoms that are best if they cover the entire shoe. This unfortunate soul is young Bagman, a tall, lanky, somewhat clumsy youngster in the nebulous, unforgiving world of 7th grade. He used to wear Leisure Suits in elementary school, but that is another episode and should not be held against him, since they were popular for some unknown reason. Today, he owns a pair of plaid bell bottoms, typically worn with his orange plaid cowboy boots, which are not fully covered because his feet are enormous.” Rod pauses and grins “I swear on a stack of Bibles, he does wear plaid pants AND plaid boots. Can you believe plaid cowboy boots? Geez, what a goofus”
“ROD! You are on the air!”
“Oh Sorry. (throat clear) Bagman is about to learn a lesson on the evening of the Junior High dance. A lesson that can only be learned…..in the Twilight Zone.” Music plays……. duh-duh-duh!!! Close your eyes and imagine it.
Junior High cafeteria, disco music blaring, my date with braces and a wrist corsage, and me, Nerd Travolta, strolling in like a proud peacock with the shirt to match. Remember in Animal House when the guys go to see Otis Day and the Nights and the music screeches to a halt while all the club goers stop to look at the newcomers? Child’s play. There I was, “The Boogie Man”, knowing that the smiles and gestures in my direction were admiring my “disco king” presence. As the music continued, I started the Latin Hustle. Why? I will never know.
“Everyone else is doing the white man’s overbite. They aren’t dancing. They’re just standing and stepping! I am Awesome!” as I slide and step and spin in perfect 7th grade, lanky, bigfooted lack of precision. “Oh yeah, baby! Awesome!”
Rod steps in mid scene. “As you might imagine, bathed in the constant love and admiration that is usually directed from 9th graders to 7th graders, young Bagman felt warm and cuddly, becoming aware of the ever widening circle around him. You see, he would like for it to be so all could watch in amazement at his skill, but this is Junior High, otherwise known as “the Twilight Zone”……dumb-dumb-dumb..
After a few minutes my date joined the other girls, no doubt to discuss my dancing prowess. I assumed she just got tired, so I just kept going by myself, “Hustling” my way across the floor to the Bee Gees accompaniment. I never realized she needed to know the steps too. Then it happened. A “lovely, sweet natured” 9th grade girl said, as only 14 year old girls can, “WHAT are you trying to do? Dance? You look SO stupid”.
Shocked, surprised, and suddenly lacking the peacock’s confidence I arrived with, I quickly exited the floor to lean against a wall and make way for the really cool kids wearing the big bell bottoms with the heels torn out of them. Dateless and afraid to try another disco move without a partner, I slid silently along the wall, where most of the other 7th grade boys were. Some of my friends rescued me and we laughed and made fun of the other kids who couldn’t dance either. We also watched in envy as those 9th graders used the dance floor as their own personal groping zone during slow dances. We were so jealous. I started looking for my date, who was pretty nice looking by 7th grade standards. Maybe if we started dancing…”.
Cigarette smoke swirling, fade to Twillight Zone starry background.
“Envious gazes of 7th grade boys combined with poor judgement and limited dancing abilities. These combine to teach a valuable lesson to these youngsters.That lesson? Keep your hands to yourself and stay home and watch tv to avoid humiliation while dancing……Oh, and remember not to try it again in college when they will call you the dancing bear, but that is another episode of ……the Twilight Zone.