The 60s Official Site



by Eva Pasco

gymThough "The Twist" was a song written and recorded in 1959 by Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, American Bandstand leader Dick Clark failed to talk Hank into performing on his show, so instead duplicated that song using an unknown chicken plucker named Earnest Evans, also an amateur song style impersonator. A little twist on the name "Fats Domino," and "Chubby Checker" became synonymous with starting the dance crazes of the Sixties when his single went on to no. 1 in 1960, again in 1962, and periodically whenever Checker recorded a variation on the theme or the song was re-released.  In the US, instructions were enclosed with every record sold: "Imagine you are stubbing out a cigarette with both feet whilst drying your back with a towel."  


Meantime, while I was in junior high, I dried my back with a towel after showering at the conclusion of gym.  This mandatory hygiene high jinx allotted the entire class ten minutes to step on a grate which sprayed disinfectant on your bare feet before snaring a stall, pretending to shower by running the water to splash yourself, patting dry, and dressing which entailed pulling on baggy nylons and securing them with garters before the bell rang. Gym class was no spa retreat either, but rather a boot camp where we girls wore a regulation short sleeved blue gym suit in which we ran the gauntlet of competitive track, shimmied and scurried along a labyrinth of monkey bars, aggressively punched volleyballs over a net, or gymnastically contorted ourselves to sorely test our limits. 

Often, those gym suits and socks were ripe for the picking day after day out of bicycle baskets, falsely secured with a combination lock, crammed on shelves. S-o-oh, you can imagine my elation when my phys ed instructor swung the armature over the record player for us to do-si-do.  Hee haw!  Save for slipping into a pair of sneakers, it signified no allemanding left into that stinky locker room reeking of sweaty socks, nor stepping into a steamy shower stall conducive to growing mold colonies. 


As far as I was concerned, square dancing or dancing squarely was on a par with enrolling in the witness protection program. I no longer felt threatened by being roughed up through the rigors of gym, or self-conscious about not attaining performance standards of athletic prowess. By far, the fiddle couldn't hold a candle to the electric guitar. There was no contagious rhythm or hip jive in the directions twanged by a caller who extolled the wholesome heartland. For sure, there’d be no suggestive rotation of one's hips, bouncing, arm jerking, or twisting the night away either.  Anyway, these moves were certainly not prerequisites amongst a  bunch of girls pardnering up with each other to join hands or crook elbows inside a square.

Ultimately, what happened inside gym class, stayed on our side of the folding divider which separated the boys from the girls.  Once you entered that stale locker room to suit up, you threw in the towel and checked any semblance of glamour, pretension, and entitlement at the door.  

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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