Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rock and Roll and Squares:

I was a camp counselor for the first time in the summer of 1959, near the town of Narrowsburg, NY. This is a Northwestern NY town, and it was rather rustic in those days. On counselor’s-nights-out, we would flock to the nearest bar to drink beer (okay over age 18), talk, and fool around.

We also watched the young locals (many of them about our ages), and they watched us. We absolutely did not mix, with one exception: a counselor-in-training aged fifteen, a svelte, friendly girl, who seemed to have torrid dates with every local who owned a car.

From time to time a local would drop coins into the excellent juke box, and they would dance four or five lindy-hops. Then, after refueling their beers, they would drop a few more coins and form up two squares. There was a good caller, the juke-box had plenty of square-dance music, and I found their square dancing entrancing. They never attempted anything tricky, no allemande rights or duck-and-dives, for example, but there was a bounce in their step that made the square dancing look an awful lot like the lindies. I especially remember the promenade step. It was so much like a casual rock step as to proclaim that square dancing was not the old way, but the still-cool way.

I’ve never visited a Narrowsburg bar since that summer, but I wonder how many more years passed before square dances were utterly forgotten there. Two or three years, I suspect.
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