I wanna Strut!
Growing up in my small town there really wasn’t much for teenage grrrls to do. Like John Travola in “Staying Alive” my group of friends really loved to dance and strut. This was the day of Prince’s “Erotic City”, B-52’s, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, Wham! and other crazy cheeseball 80’s dance songs. We loved getting all dressed up in short skirts, neon hot pants, lacey revealing tops, and big bangled earrings. We would crimp our hair and go wild. Our options were few and far between. There were no dance clubs for teens, we hated any “official school function”, and we never mixed with the jock party crowd. Our only hope for boogie fever was the local Mormon dances. Now the Mormon youth group had dances every other Saturday at various churches. As an added bonus, the Mormon boys were Hot, Hot, Hot! The trick was, you could not go to a Mormon youth dance unless you were Mormon, or the guest of one. However, if you got a Mormon to sponsor you, you could get a dance card. The ticket to easy entry at all dances. My heart was set on getting on of those coveted cards.
Mormon kids I knew
Most of the Mormon kids I knew were the wildest bunch of partiers around. Oh yes, they would dress up on Sundays in ugly brown suits and ties or pretty flowery dresses, but outside of church walls, they were the biggest sluts, pimps, druggies and rebellious ones out there. Some of these kids have now renounced their wild ways and embraced the church. Others, like my last boyfriend, are ex Mormon wild children, who still renounce all religion, and have done everything and anything to rebel against their upbringing.
Dance Card Fever
When I was 16 years old, one of my Mormon friends convinced me to attend a weekend devotional at a Mormon Church. Here I met some of the elders and was approached about sponsorship for a dance card. To get the card, it would require a special separate meeting where my youth sponsor and I would meet with a group of church elders and discuss whether I was suitable to mix with the Mormon kids. I remember sitting in a back room with a bunch of older men with crewcuts and glasses and discussing my “good girl” credentials. I guess I must have passed the test, because the issued dance card was mine. Now I had the back stage pass to get all my girl friends in. However, with the dance card, I had to sign in at every dance, kinda like a registry. I would be responsible for any deviant behavior on behalf of my friends. Since, it wasn’t my church, I wasn’t to worried about any repercussions. If I only knew what was in store…..
Rock Lobster… Down… Down…..
Oh how we loved causing a scene at the dances. We were sent home a few times too. Usually we were sent home for wearing our skirts too short. There was a dress code. Also you could only slow dance “a book of Mormon” apart… no closer. We lived to push the envelope at these dances. Hell, it wasn’t our church or our parents chaperoning. Our usual plan would involve bootlegging California Coolers before the dance. Guzzling the cooler down before entry, and then causing a stir by our behavior. We danced like Madonna wild children to the music, demonstrating moves we learned off MTV or Night Flight. We went crazy for Rock Lobster and fell to the ground like fools. We LIVED for making scenes…. Well, who am I kidding? I still live for that shit.
16 Candles Style
One winter dance, the Snow Festival, I was all dolled up in my sparkling chrome shoes, a pink pastel tube skirt, and a shimmering pastel paisley shirt. I was ready for some fun! Now, back in 1986 I was very John Hughes movie 16 candles style innocent. I was devilish and sneaky, but a total virgin who hadn’t really done more than kissed or gotten to first base. I regularly attended Lutheran church league, I got okay grades, and I was a pretty decent kid. (hence the dance card). I wasn’t confident or secure with “boys”, well hell, I was still pure. Where I’m going with this, is that something happened this crisp winter night that would forever change my “reputation”.
They Bathed me in Pigs Blood
While we are dancing to the Cure or something like that, one of the adult sponsors in a really ugly 70’s style dress and thick Jacky-O type glasses grabs the microphone and makes an announcement. “In honor of our Snow Festival, it is time to announce our Snow King and Queen”. My friend and I scurry to the back, preparing to laugh at the geeky spectacle. One of the Mormon youth girls waltzed across the dance floor carrying some sort of top hat. The woman pulled a name out of the hat….”and our Snow Queen is…” This is when time started going really, really, slow. Voices became warped, almost like a bad acid trip. I heard my name announced over the mic. My heart started racing, I felt faint… I couldn’t be! I wasn’t even a member of the stupid church! I stepped back, and watched the crowd get really loud. Damn my sponsor Mormon chick for clapping really loudly in my direction and pulling me toward the woman on the mic. My legs felt like led, I wanted to run and scream. I was totally bamboozled and trapped. Somebody put a cheap ass crown on my head, and silly glue stick glittered sash. I was also given a bouquet of wedding style flowers. Excitement was in the air, they were about to chose the king. I was still as stiff as puddy, and shocked as all hell. “And our King is….” A name I didn’t recognize. Voices were still going in slow motion, horror movie style. I saw the retarded guy from special Ed at our school walk up to the mic. Sorry to use the un-PC word “retarded”, from now on I will use mentally challenged. But in the 80’s I wasn’t that PC yet. The mentally challenged boy was a Mormon youth member. Reportedly he had drowned as a kid, and suffered severe brain damage. They placed a crown on his head too. Cameras were flashing all over the place, and I kept trying to hold my “cool” composure. I was dying with humiliation. Then, the worst possible thing for a geeky, insecure teenaged girl happened. They put on a slow song dedication for us and expected me to dance with him. I kept waiting for the kids from “Carrie” to bathe me in pig’s blood. Whatever slow song they played, I can’t remember. I have blacked out the memory, but I must have survived it. That was probably the longest slow dance of my life, and I’m sure I followed strictly the book of Mormon space rule in this case.
Branded…a fool… what will they say…. Monday at School…(John Travolta style)
After the spectacle, I walked out of the church and wanted to go home. I ripped off my crown and the cheap ass sash and threw them in the trash. Tears flowed down my cheeks… I felt so humiliated. I went home and went to sleep, my usual coping mechanism for stress and/or humiliation. The next day at school wasn’t so bad, luckily few dorks had access to the exclusive Mormon dances. The mentally challenged guy was there at school, and now I had a new “fan”. He would run up to me and call me by name and want a hug. I of course obliged, but was too insecure in myself to be totally cool at that point. It was only years later that I could look back on that night and laugh or offer any compassion. My Mormon friends all applauded me, and told me how impressed they were with how I handled the situation. Some suggested it was a “test” on behalf of the Mormon elders to see if I was really serious about being in their youth group. Needless to say, I never attended another Mormon dance. Soon after that, my group of friends discovered a local band that we could groupie. Our weekends took on a wilder turn soon after. But alas, that is more fodder for another story.
For now and forever, I am the Snow Queen! And don’t you player haters ever forget it. Now bow to me!
"The mark of an immature man is that he would die knobly for a cause. The mark of a mature man is that he would live humbly for one" - Catcher in the Rye -WARNING WRITER SPELLING CHALLENGED! But Sometimes you have to say "what the fuck!"
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