The first record I ever bought with my own money was by Dee Dee Sharp called “Mashed Potato”. It was both a song and a dance, the dance I rehearsed often in my family’s basement. This was followed by “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas, and a whole series of hits by the Supremes, before Diana Ross went out on her own.
Somewhere in the middle of this, Stevie Wonder arrived with his amazing talent and his harmonica in 1963’s “Fingertips”. We were all amazed that he was only a few years older than us.The hits and the dance moves just kept coming. And we, young white Catholic school girls, knew all the lyrics, danced to the choreographed moves and sang along.
The Four Tops, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mary Wells, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Aretha Franklin, The Marvelettes; these were the sounds that filled the air waves prior to the great British invasion and that appearance by the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
And, we had the moves. I wish we had video back then. Two classmates from my seventh grade backed me up as the Supremes to my Diana Ross. We lip-synched and danced to “Baby Love”, “Where Did Our Love Go” in front of a large group at a dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall. I was very thin and wore my hair short, puffy and with long bangs, so I made the best Diana. It was like our 1960’s version of Karaoke, and maybe they laughed at us a bit, but we had no shame; creating a great memory and maybe getting a bit of applause.
But mostly, we danced alone. This all came back to me in a sweet memory when I saw this clip from the Fresh Prince. Hope you enjoy. Dance on.