Down at the CYMS Hall the youth of the town gathered on Saturday night. With the arrival from America, of the dance craze called ‘Rock and Roll’, the oul Ballroom of Romance was kicked into history overnight, with its waltzes , quicksteps and slow foxtrots sneered at as being Square. From then on, young-lads and young-wans would be known as ‘Teenagers’. But as well as the new dance, the new music, and the new name for youngsters, the Yanks sent us a whole new way of life.
If you wanted to be ‘with it’, and we all did , you had to dress the part. Well fitted jacket with slim lapels ,and cut-back front….Italian style. Drainpipe pants with no turn-ups, and winkle picker shoes. White socks. Very slim necktie. And, oh, of course, shirt collar turned up ,in the ultimate act of defiance . And the hair —slicked back with brylcream into the shape of a ducks arse. Deviation from this strict dress code, was frowned upon by the lads, and worst of all, sniggered at by the girls.
Ah , the girls. Shiney black pointy shoes, and white bobby socks, frilly petticoats, and flared out dresses. Pony tails that swished to the beat, and long legs that went onwards and upwards, to a destination that was a mystery to all of us lads.We were smitten. We picked up the ‘jiving’ (another Yanky word ) and the lingo fairly fast. Lingo example: ‘Dig that crazy Beat’.
Pat Mc Guigan and the Big Four were belting it out on the stage . The night belonged to us, giving it our best moves on the floor. And then it happened. In he walked. Suited and booted, and slicked to perfection, the stranger took the floor with our best dancer, Dolores. We had never seen such acrobatic dancing , and weren’t at all pleased to have our feeble shapings exposed so dramatically. Still, after a while, we formed a circle around, and allowed them the freedom of the floor to strut their stuff. The band, sensing something special, belted out their best jive music.
All- in- all, a magical experience for all present. Later, we found out that the stranger was on holidays from Limerick City, and his name was Teddy Tobin. We called him Teddy Boy. I did not like him one little bit. But, as they say, all’s well that ends well. Dolores saved the last dance for me.