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Big Chuck

February 28, 2010

I Was Just Thinking: Sock hop brings back memories of dancing days

Recently, my radio station, WDOS, was one of the hosts of a giant 1950s sock hop at the Oneonta Moose Club. It was a charity event, and it sold out immediately. It was great fun.

Few phrases trip the tumblers of time more vividly than the phrase "sock hop." They came of age during the infancy of rock 'n' roll and were held in school gymnasiums.

The school's gym teacher was always around to make sure you never walked on his precious (and no doubt expensive) varnished wooden floors. Hence, the "socks-only" idea.

For my generation, the sock hop was usually the first time you had a chance to connect with the opposite sex in a structured social event. The gym would be decked out in streamers and odd-looking toilet-tissue origami flowers.

I remember the sophisticated special effect at our dances was an old revolving green, red and yellow lighted Christmas tree stand that somebody's parents let us use. The music came from a record player (no live bands yet). And the adult-supervised refreshment table ran the entire gamut from A-B (which meant fruit punch and the PTA's cookies).

The dances of my time were expressions of heathen youth: the Pony, Watusi, Stroll, Cool Jerk, Monkey, Loco-Motion and the Twist. I loved to dance at the sock hops. "Dancing Chuckie" they called me. One dance, the Hully Gully, was wild, and unfortunately, "Dancing Chuckie" was banned from doing it at the Pearl Street School dances in Sidney because I posed a danger to others while "expressing myself."

Who could ever forget the "ladies' choice" dance at the sock hop? This was huge. Since we were only 13 years old, none of us boys ever came with a date, so this was the first "hook-up moment" of the night (and our lives), a moment we all knew could last two, three, or even four minutes.

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Big Chuck

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