Dancing over the years and hazards of the fast track

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In this age of “Dancing With The Stars,” I can’t help but reflect on the changes in dancing over the years.

In our early years during the 1940’s, my generation danced the Virginia Reel at school functions, and of course the Square Dance. By the time we got to junior high, the beat accelerated, and so did the style. Even I could tell that the Virginia Reel was a thing of the past.

When we began to dance slower to the Mills Brothers, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee something had to be done about the sound of leather sliding over the grit. It caused some people to say, “AARRGGHH!” That makes my flesh crawl.”

So the next development was something called the sock hop. Slow dancing came in about the same time and it seemed only natural that you should turn the lights down lower.

Slow dancing and lower lights necessitated a need for more chaperones.
And then came the jitterbug.
Not all of us could master the jitterbug. But I was saved from becoming a wallpaper person by a

beautiful young lady who decided to brighten my life considerably by teaching me how to jitterbug. It was amazing how my social life improved after I learned how to jitterbug and do the boogie woogie

There were fads that followed — the bunnyhop, the huckle buck — but they were just variations on the main act.

Then came high school graduation in 1952, then four years in the Navy, and by the time I got back in 1956

there was a new boogie-woogie in town wrapped around some kid named Elvis Presley.
It was time to grow up and move on.
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While reading about the last days of Michael Jackson, I began to think about the deaths of young

entertainers.
Consider Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Hank Williams and so many young people whose lives were

cut short because they were trying to get rest and sleep while working an impossible schedule.
Athletes, pro and amateur, and young entertainers trying to make a living in a fiercely competitive field

all travel on this slippery path.
It is obvious they are surrounded by drug dealers with offers for rest and relaxation. It only takes a

moment …
Drugs and booze are a serious problem not just for those in entertainment, but for everyone.
So what else is new? And does anyone have an answer? I don’t. The best we can do is to support the

programs who warn young people about booze and drugs.

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award- winning columnist. He can be reached at morgang7@aol.com

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