The Teens Had The Dancin’ Bug – How Low Can You Go?

dance1115It’s twine time, baby! Let’s Shing-a-ling and Suzie Q. Get up off of that thing, dance and you’ll feel better. This is the land of a thousand dances and it’s time to Watusi and Boogaloo down Broadway. I’m Archie Bell and the Drells and we’re here to do the Tighten Up. Get down and shake and finger pop!

 Land of 1000 Dances   Wilson Pickett

It’s been going on since cave men and women were circling the campfire. Folk dancing has a history beyond memory. The Minuet, the Allemande, and Waltz were revolutionary in their time. My parents and their parents did the Fox Trot, the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, and the Jitter Bug. If they had broader tastes, they could Tango or Rhumba or Mambo.

Dancing has always been and always will be a natural reaction. An expression of feeling and personality. An ecstatic connection with the cosmos. And, most importantly, a way to meet girls.

Nobody But Me   The Human Beingz

My personal dance history consists of dancing schools; one with white gloves and one a bit looser, but still requiring a coat and tie. I waltzed and mastered the complicated cha-cha. I Fox Trotted with the best of them. My lovely partner and I stared into each other’s eyes. We whirled the floor. Our feet spoke volumes – all secret, of course! I had one hand on hers and one at her back. Holy cow!


Soon, I graduated to darkened basements and Friday nights in the gym. Then, dances at the bowling alley and the Legion Hall. In college, though you might think I was too stoned to dance, I reserved Tuesday nights for The Milkshake Club – two or three hours of milkshakes and Motown, before returning to homework.

limbo twist2

There were a lot of great dances in the fifties and early sixties. I knew the Twist, but the rest were a mystery. I’m sure I saw some on Bandstand and Hullabaloo and Shindig, but they were beyond me. It didn’t matter. The names never failed to drive me crazy and inspire visions – the Stroll, the Bop, the Madison, the Hand Jive, the Continental, the Hokey Pokey, the Skate, the Slop. And, later, the Twist, the Bristol Stomp, the Hitch-Hike, the Limbo, the Fly, the Bump, and the Jerk. Animal dances were big – the Chicken, the Dog, the Alligator, the Monkey, the Camel Walk, the Pony, the Funky Chicken, the Bird. The Popcorn, the Mashed Potatoes, the Loco Motion, the Cool Jerk, the Hustle. Anything was possible.


Do You Love Me?   The Contours

Throughout all this, there was slow dancing and that incredible moment, when eyes met and communicated that knowing that something big could happen in the next couple of minutes. Everything could change. Anything could happen. Even, love.


Little did I know that this was the last great heyday of dancing. My movements, despite lessons and TV, were mostly a free-form kind of self-expressive shaking. Soulful, but unorganized. Later, at Dead shows there was Twirling, but that made me dizzy. It was my mind that did all the dancing and I could barely stand. Then, Disco and Saturday Night Fever made everything a little too weird.

AC_dance_1967      twistin

Sure, I can still dance and do. Whenever I hear that beat, even in the grocery store, it’s time to get down and get funky. Stand back, I need my space. I’ve got the feeling and I can’t be held responsible for what happens next. I look at my wife and say, Baby, let the good times roll. You got what it takes, so put your hands on your hips and let your backbone flip. Come a little bit closer and shake a tail feather, you’re my kind of girl.

You Can’t Sit Down   The Dovells

About Ted Ringer

I am a writer, artist, and listener. Great music is everywhere and has no limits. Some of it is well-orchestrated and some is short and sweet. It can spring out of a moment of deep feeling or result from long periods of development. Music is communication, inspiration, and a million other things. This blog wants to share the wealth and keep toes tapping.
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3 Responses to The Teens Had The Dancin’ Bug – How Low Can You Go?

  1. Richard says:

    Inspiring Ted — so I will share with you a heretofore-undisclosed-to-anyone-fact. (drum roll…)
    I dance in my shed.
    Today it was various tracks from “The Concert for Bangladesh”
    Richard Varnes

  2. Richard says:

    Oh yeah — I forgeot. I also conduct orchestras.
    Today was Beethoven’s Fifth with the Berlin Philharmonic. They were incredible.

  3. Kit Tennis says:

    Hoppin’ in my seat, can’t hardly sit down!

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