Sweat, Hair Spray, and Steve Perry: My First Slow Dance

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Sweat, Hair Spray, and Steve Perry: My First Slow Dance

Postby tater1977 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:35 pm

Sweat, Hair Spray, and Steve Perry: My First Slow Dance

https://medium.com/@hugoschwyzer_31385/ ... .62tto1fr4

Hugo Schwyzer

Victoria and I are having a late dinner in a bar. Journey’s “Lights” comes on, and my girl opines (correctly, let’s agree) that surely Steve Perry had rock n’ roll’s greatest male voice of his generation, perhaps of the last 50 years.

I don’t remember to tell her my story about “Lights.” In the fall of 1981, when I was a pimply ninth-grader, it was the song for my first slow dance.

Carmel High School dances in the early 1980s alternated between DJs and live bands that played exclusively rock n’ roll. No disco, no R&B; we hopped and shook as best we could to the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynrd, AC/DC, and so on.

We was very white.

At my first high school dance, I was too shy to ask a girl to dance one of the three or four slow dances that would appear over the course of the evening. It was hard enough to ask a girl to fast dance; the first time I managed that, a kind sophomore hopped in place with me to “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” a song which offered a promising omen for my high school dancing career.

Slow dances were for couples, of course, but also opportunities for boys to test their courage in asking a girl they might barely know to step into their arms. If you didn’t slow dance like this, you’ve seen it in ’80s movies a boy and a girl (only hetero couples in that less enlightened time) embrace, drool on each other’s shoulders, and shuffle slowly in a circle. Sweat and unwanted erections and crushed feet are a small price to pay for so much sanctioned tenderness.

And bottom line, we’re a bunch of kids starving to be held.

So it’s the second dance of the fall, some Saturday night in the fall, and we have a DJ in the gym. I’ve showered three times, put a concealer on my zits, and I’m wearing my best blue shirt. Though I live close enough to school that I could walk, I ask mom to drive me. I’m afraid I’ll get sweaty if I go on foot.

I don’t want to be sweaty for my first slow dance.

I don’t dance any fast dances when I get to the gym. I lean against a bleacher, sip punch, and wait. I don’t want to be sweaty for my first slow dance, remember.

A slow song comes on. I don’t remember what it is, but I take a breath and make a beeline for a pretty girl named Mary. Mary’s in my algebra class, and I’ve known her since elementary school. I don’t have a crush on her or anything. Rejection from a crush would be too awful. Mary’s really just a friend, and I just want… I want to feel a nice girl in my arms. I want a girl to not be put off by me.

I ask Mary, and she blanches, shakes her head, and literally runs to the punch table. Some of her friends laugh. I feel light-headed; I flush hot with embarrassment. With as much dignity as I can muster, I try to saunter casually back to the bleachers. I feel my eyes start to water. Fuck, I’m going to cry. I need to leave.

Before I can get halfway to the door, Mr. Oppenhuizen stops me. “Oppie”, as we call him, is the German teacher. He chaperones every dance. He is strict and very formal, and a lot of the kids are scared of him.

I know why he’s stopping me. I don’t want him to see me cry, and if I sense pity in his voice, it’ll make everything so much worse.

“You did fine,” Oppie said. “And I think you should keep trying. I promise you, someone wants to dance with you.”

It’s such a teacher thing to say. (Years later, when I become a teacher and youth leader, and find myself saying similar things to kids, I give myself an internal eye roll.)

I don’t believe him. I don’t want him to be mad at me, either. I nod grimly, go back to the bleachers, and when the fast songs come back, and dance a few. I decide that when the next slow song comes, I’ll stay at the punch table. A boy can only take so much in one night.

And then “Lights” comes on. I know this song. I love this song. Everybody loves this song; the couples quickly stake out their places and enfold each other.

I see a blonde girl in high waisted jeans, cowboy boots, and a white blouse. I don’t know her name; I think she’s in my grade. She smiles at me, and I step out of my body for a moment, and watch my 14 year-old self walk across the floor and ask this pretty blonde to dance. She nods shyly.

I do not know where the courage came from. All I know is that the best and worst decisions of my life come when I turn off my thoughts, and somehow, this night, for a moment, I did.

I have hugged girls before, but never held a young woman in my arms before. She smells like hairspray, girl sweat, and perfume. I’ve never smelled that combination, and I, who have just started drinking and using, could get higher on that than on Coors or weed. She’s warm, and her breath on my neck is moist and hot. It must be leaving a mark. How could it not?

It is so astonishingly intimate that I can scarcely believe the school permits it! Doesn’t this change a person forever? I could fall in love with her I think, her hairspray, her sweat, that breath, that soft cotton blouse.

I am worried I will get an erection that will repulse her, but I don’t. The dance doesn’t even feel particularly sexual. It feels like a fairy tale, and I’m the handsome prince to her Cinderella or Snow White. Steve Perry’s extraordinary voice soars and bounces off the walls of the gym, wrapping blonde girl and me in sound, bonding us together.

The song ends. We pull away. I’m grateful that I didn’t sweat too much and that her back was already damp before I put my hands on it. We smile at each other. “Thank you,” she says. “Thank you,” I repeat, and go back to the bleachers, electrified.

When the next slow song comes, I make a beeline for blonde girl. (“I think her name is Suzanne,” a boy I know says, “but I’m not sure.”). I am too late. Blonde girl steps into the arms of an older boy, a junior, a basketball player. I watch them, bitter with disappointment and jealousy. How, I wonder, can she share that with me and then so quickly share it with someone else?

I leave the dance, elated and confused. I leave the dance remembering that for a moment, I felt like a handsome prince; I leave the dance still smelling her on my skin; I leave the dance convinced more than ever that love is all that matters; I leave the dance with Steve Perry’s voice echoing in my ears.

It is a very fine song.
Perry's good natured bonhomie & the world’s most charmin smile,knocked fans off their feet. Sportin a black tux,gigs came alive as he swished around the stage thrillin audiences w/ charisma that instantly burnt the oxygen right out of the venue.TR.com
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Re: Sweat, Hair Spray, and Steve Perry: My First Slow Dance

Postby JustMyStyle » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:37 am

Steve Perry’s extraordinary voice soars and bounces off the walls of the gym, wrapping blonde girl and me in sound, bonding us together....
I loved this description of his feelings... What a great story...
and as always... thank you for sharing...
Captured by the Moment ...
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Re: Sweat, Hair Spray, and Steve Perry: My First Slow Dance

Postby bellairepark73 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:57 pm

That was beautiful!
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