I remember being a teenager in the 60’s and attending many youth dances in Queens. It was a time of good fun and got to see and hear some good neighborhood bands. Now quite a few was held at Catholic churches throughout Queens.
I remember attending dances at Incarnation, St. Joachim & Ann, Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village and also Presentation of the Blessed Church in Jamaica.There was one constant and that was it was all supervised by priests, brothers and even volunteers from the Knights of Columbus and members of the parishes.
This was done to insure fights didn’t break out or at least to control any and all problems. It was always a safe place for us teenagers to hang out. I do remember we were being watched by the clergy to insure when couples were dancing too close together we were asked not to get too close. I guess this was to impress upon us that our sexuality should not cross the line at our young age. But that was their job and I guess we thought that was funny at the time.
At these dances as I look back was a time where young teenagers came into their own and there was this interaction between the sexes that help us grow with respect for one another. It was a time where a boy could ask a girl to dance and did get to enjoy acceptance or suffer rejection but that is what growing up is all about.
Let me relate a personal experience at one of these dances. I was smoking a cigarette and saw this girl named Kathy I really wanted to dance with and the thing was you were not to dispose of the butt on the floor but in ashtrays at the tables. I therefore put it out with my shoe and placed it in my pants pocket. That was really stupid as I think about it.Anyway I asked her to dance a slow dance and as we were dancing she noticed smoke coming up between us and as she backed away, my pants pocket was burning a hole and a friend who saw what was happening put me out with a soda he was drinking. Now that was really a most embarrassing moment, one of which I can laugh at now but not than. That truely was no way to impress a lady. It is I believe those experiences that define who we are and what we hope to be.
I further believe that though music, mode of dress and styles change, I think the more things change the more some things remain the same. I feel teenagers of today are no different than we were in the 60’s. To be a teenager is a hard time for growing up for it is the crossroads of adulthood. I do believe they need help along the way like parents and teachers who work hard to help the teenagers today by being good role models, mentors and with solid support groups to help them along the way. All this together makes the road they are traveling a little bit easier..I should know this because I did have this support that I feel did help me along the way a very long time ago.
For you see my mother died when I was only fourteen and my father had to raise me as a single parent when he was 72 years old at the time. The help and support I received through my church and the adults I met through these dances helped me out a lot not to mention I had good teachers and a few who served as mentors who helped me through some most differcult times. There was even a time where I was being bully and thought of taking my own life but didn’t. You see I had those in my life who cared and understood what I was going through.
For who knows what would of happen to me if I didn’t.