I Had the Time of My Life – Silk, Satin, Houndstooth and All

I miss high school dances.

I’d always dress up. Usually in a new dress, because heaven forbid someone recognize my outfit from a previous dance. I’d take extra time applying makeup and punishing my long hair with hot curls and tight half-dos. Leaving a mass of strands on the floor, sticky from concrete hold hairspray.

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Grade eight, Valentine’s Day Dance. Pretty in baby pink, and blind as a bat. I refused to wear my glasses, choosing to squint all night.

In grade school, dances were held in the afternoon for the fives and sixes. As a Jehovah’s Witness though, I couldn’t attend and stayed in the library. Organizing magazines. But in grade six – as my family eased out of the religion, I thought, gosh darn it, I’m going to the Valentine’s Day dance.

I abandoned the Cracker’s and Highlights Magazines, and I went to the dance. My first slow dance was Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight.” After another slow dance, I scrambled to the library and shoved the magazines back onto the shelves.

High school dances were different. Technically, I was in junior high – but it was the same school. Small town. Technically a village.

Weeks ahead of time, I’d mark our dances in my school agenda. They were a big deal. What to wear? Are we meeting at someone’s house before the dance? Will my new dress from Sears arrive in time.  

My first real, actual, from start-to-finish dance was in grade seven. The annual September Freshie Dance. I wore a baby pink houndstooth collared shirt and a three-tiered skirt (from Sears). A camera crazy friend snapped a photo of me dancing with my crush. It looks as though I’m trying to strangle him.

Those outfit though. It was the years of silk, satin, acid wash. And tiered skirts. I had the baby pink blouse, skirt, and pants – which I returned because, I mean, too much baby pink – and of course the tiered black skirt. All lovely satin.

Just in time for the grad dance when I was in grade 11, my mom surprised my older sister and I with beautiful velour dresses – red for me, purple for her. There’s nothing quite like going to a June dance dressed like a cuddly bear. My other favourite was a tight spandex dress dotted with massive flowers – which I still have. Then an adorable white sailor dress – which looked cuter in the catalogue, but it arrived the day of the dances. A Sadie Hawkins Dance. We wanted an excuse for a dance in November in grade 10. We didn’t know anything about Sadie Hawkins or how to spell her name – and the posters were proof.

Then were was a horrendous dress that looked like I rolled in Baba’s garden. However, I wore it all the time. My last dress was the best – red with little white flowers.

After the dances, with my ears ringing, I’d list in my diary who I danced with. Did my crush dance with me. What happened at the dance. Such a thrill when you’re a 12 year-old Degrassi addict.

I had a slight issue at dances. I couldn’t see. I refused to wear my glasses. Try keeping track of your friends when you can’t see, never mind your crush.

I was on the dance committee twice – always with the same friend. We held about six to seven dances a year – depending on our budget. In grade ten, we were planning an awesome Much Music Dance for Halloween. However, I needed surgery, and I was incapacitated. My friend pulled a fabulous MM Dance together. It was extraordinary with a massive screen and colourful spotlights. I announced the winners of the costumer competition from Much Music’s van outside the school, and I remember the cheers, pretty much to indicate, “Yay, she survived!” That was pretty awesome. Even more awesome, two of my friend won first place. For the millionth time. While that dance diminished our budget, it was worth it.

In grade seven, the school held an intra-school dance with another town. It didn’t go over well. No one would dance. It felt like that episode of The Simpsons where the girls and boys stood at opposite side of the gym – only we were divided by town. We also held one noon hour dance. It bombed. Proving dances should stay at night.

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Our last dance at the school before our graduation ceremonies. I’m in the back row, third from the right in the red dress.

I had a method at dances. When a slow song played, I’d place myself strategically close to my person of interest. While I’d be crushed when he’d ask someone else, I’d turn to the guy beside me and we’d dance to “When I See You Smile” or “I’ll Be There for You.”

Our graduation school dance in grade 12 was the last dance before our actual graduation celebrations. I remember our class made a circle in the gym and danced together. Then they played our grad songs: “Never Be Another Tonight,” by Bryan Adams and “The River,” by Garth Brooks. One of the guys did the worm as we shouted the lyrics. Other guys were twirling some of us in circles.

It was such a memorable moment. I was dancing with the kids I grew up with – from kindergarten to grade 12. Though we had our moments, our class was relatively close.

Out of all the high school dances, I missed three.

And today, I miss them all.
Photo credits:
Photos of me – Picture happy mother
Grade twelve group shot – I still have no idea, but thanks for the memory!