PLEASANT VIEW — Jaden Spendlove wasn’t planning on attending his sixth-grade dance on Friday afternoon, but he’s glad he changed his mind.
“I was going to chicken out,” said the Lomond View student. “I was nervous about dancing with random people, but I practiced the steps and now I’m really glad I came.”
Dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans rolled up at the bottom, Jaden danced the waltz and swing with the rest of his classmates. The girls all wore their hair up in a high ponytail tied with a scarf. Each wore a wide swing felt skirt, called a poodle skirt, in bold colors that included red, lime green, purple, pink, blue and polka dot. The boys wore white T-shirts and jeans. Some wore leather jackets and sunglasses, and some slicked their hair back.
The 1950s-theme dance has been running for the past 28 years.
“We were trying to do something where the kids could come and dance,” said teacher Chuck Coiner. “The kids would come, but they didn’t really know how to dance and there wasn’t really a theme. The show ‘Happy Days’ was real popular, so I thought we could center the dances around the 50s.”
The first year, the dance was held in the school cafeteria. There were no decorations and no refreshments.
“The kids dressed up and we taught them the swing and the waltz,” Coiner said. “But that was about it, and the cafeteria was very crowded.”
As the years went by, parents began getting involved, and the event continued to grow.
“They started decorating the gymnasium and bringing in food. The kids really looked forward to it,” he said.
They still do.
Dressed in a typical 1950s poodle skirt, McKell Brown said she and her classmates excitedly anticipate the dance all year.
“It’s just a really fun thing the sixth-graders get to do every year,” she said. “My mom made my skirt and it’s fun to dress up. The girls didn’t get to wear pants to school back then. We spent a long time learning how to do the dances, and we are going to do square dancing and line dancing, too.”
During the dance, students pulled out a card with names of their dance partners listed. After finding their partner, they moved to the dance floor, surrounded by pink, white and black balloons, records, lights and crate paper, and danced to the first number, “Rock Around the Clock.”
“We have lists so no one will be left out,” Abbie Loveless said. “It wouldn’t be nice to say no to someone.”
The kids also got to have their pictures taken in front of a pink-and-white 1956 Chrysler New Yorker.