Goin’ to a Go-Go

In 1968, I still had the white Go-Go boots my parents had bought me two years prior. My feet hadn’t gotten any bigger, although I’d grown from 5’6” to 5’8”. I weighed 116, despite eating like “a rootin’ hog” as one of my cousins used to say. It was all the running around, dancing & generally being super manic that kept the weight off me. Mom had read that Twiggy, the model, ate tons too. So she wasn’t worried.

I was in symphonic band at Langley High and (for a short while) also played in a jazz combo. I’d go to nightclubs in DC with musician pals. We’d storm the stage whenever the real band was taking a break.

George J. Horan was our band leader. Th’ man was a hep cat. We learned great jazz riffs from him. I wasn’t the best flute player around but I was absolutely the wildest acting—flinging my hair around as I whipped my head back and forth.

One night, my boyfriend RW had the car. He and his brother shared, taking Sheila and me out for burgers and a movie nearly every Saturday. But Sheila was “on restriction” for some reason. Usually, we got into trouble together but sometimes I escaped detection with my natural-born innocent-looks.

Forbidden by my father to wear make-up, I could do a great: “Golly! I’ve no idea what you’re talking about” schtick when faced with authorities asking what the heck I thought was I doing driving without a license or any other crime de nuit.

So RW, despite not having a driver’s license either (he didn’t want the Army tracking him down for the draft), drove me to DC that night. I held my flute protectively on my lap. Go-Go boots, a navy blue mini-dress with poor boy top & a wide, shiny belt completed my cheap Sears imitation of the trendy British Cockney Mod look.

I insisted we go to a “groovy” discotheque. Although it was cool to be a hippy, I preferred, by far, the Beats. Jack Kerouac: On The Road! I’d grown up in a car. So the Beats spoke to me with their snapping fingers.

We drove around until finding what looked like a hep spot. RW parked the car and joined me as I strained forward, overly excited about “pitching whoopee” as one of my parents’ friends called wild nights. She’d been a flapper in San Francisco in the 1920s!

The doorman took a look at me and shook his head. I appeared to be age 12, I knew. So I held up my flute case and said, “I’m with the band.” He frowned in disbelief but opened the door for my beau and me. RW looked and acted much older than he really was—a whole month younger than me!

All my life, I’ve gotten everywhere twenty minutes (or more) early. This was one of those nights. The only people in the club were the bartender, a few waitresses, one guy sweeping the stage and a fellow standing in the shadows. The waitresses were moving tables and chairs to the far edges of the club, for maximum dance capacity. All of the workers looked bored and world-weary.

RW asked me, “Should we go and come back later?”

But I was geared up! Instead of answering, I ran up onto the stage, tapped the mic’ and stage-whispered “Is this thing on?”

The bartender looked up, shocked. The waitresses ignored me, intent on getting tables and chairs set up properly. I began playing wild riffs on my flute. Key of G.

The guy sweeping came over and clicked on the mic’. I blasted my best rendition of Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic.” A few waitresses came over to listen. I ran out of breath, bowed to minor applause. Then went to drop coins in the juke box.

I chose Cannibal and the Head Hunter’s “Land of a Thousand Dances.”

Na-na-na-nah!” I shouted and began dancing. The Pony. The Phony Maroni. The Alligator. The Mashed Potato. Some dance moves I’d learned from copying kids on “American Bandstand.” Others, I made up on the spot.

That’s not how to do the Pony,” said a stunningly beautiful waitress with flashy pink Yardley Slicker lipstick & a perfectly hair-sprayed blonde flip.

She came over and made her hands into horse’s hooves, lifting her knees up into a perfect Pony. I imitated her, step for step. We burst out laughing. RW sat at the bar, smoking and sipping a whiskey, watching the crazy girls.

Another waitress joined us and shouted, “Twist!” She climbed up onto a table and did the dance perfectly, her butt nearly touching the tabletop when she got at the lowest point in her moves. “How Low Can You Go?” Oh my God! We had to find a limbo stick!

I put another coin in the juke box and chose Smokey Robinson’s “Goin’ to a Go-Go.” Jumped up onto a table & did the wildest Jerk possible, nearly falling to the shined-up floor.

Now this is Go-Go dancing!” I yelled.

The others got into the game as customers began filing into the club. We danced for the entire long song. RW dropped more coins into the juke box and I kept on dancing.

The waitresses had to get to work, serving drinks and snacks to a gathering crowd. I jumped off the table and continued dancing alone all over the nearly-empty floor. As I danced up to people, they joined me and soon the waxed floor was filled with feet making wicked moves.

A tall, slim man in a three piece suit approached me.

What’s your name, kid?”

Dixie,” I was nearly out of breath after thirty minutes of non-stop groovy gyrations.

You want a job, Dixie?”

Like, doing what?”

Like turning this place into Disco à Go-Go!”

YES!”

I spun around in glee and ran to RW, who had retrieved my flute from the stage. The band was getting warmed up, jazzy notes filling the air as young people and some not-so-youthful talked excitedly.

I have a job!”

RW put his arm around my waist,

Mama San, think twice. What’s your Daddy gonna say when you tell him you’re a Go-Go dancer in a night club?”

My face dropped. “I won’t tell him!”

You ain’t got a driver’s license. How’re you gonna fill out all them W-2 forms an’ shit? Lie? Not to mention, I can’t drive you to town every night. I gotta work at th’ distillery when my old man’s too drunk to pull his shift.

So!? I’ve work! Coat Checker and bath-house cleaning at the Lake. I’ll save up, then buy a car and evade the cops.”

I got a feeling when that slick man finds out you’re sixteen, he’ll take back the offer.”

Defiantly, I stormed over to the ‘slick man.’

I’m sixteen.”

Well, woopsie-daisie! Is my face red!” The club owner laughed. “You come back in two years and you got a top pay job, sweetheart. I’ll try to keep this joint afloat ’til then, Dixie.”

I was a Go-Go dancer in the big city for one night!

Author: dixiewriter

Due to my father's job as an explorer/cartographer, my family moved 48 times before I turned 13. We lived where Dad worked: on mountain tops (in park ranger cabins), in deserts, swamps, along coastlines from Maine to Key West & other wild places. My father mapped parts of Antarctica, living there for 8 months in 1961-62. A mountain peak & a glacier are named after him (William C. Elder, USGS) As an adult, I helped Lars Eric Lindblad (then president of World Wildlife) find out about the migration path of Silverback gorillas (from Tanzania into Kenya). On my information, he chose to move Lindblad Travel's photographic safari camps to accommodate these wonderful creatures. I got a Jimmy Carter grant to teach after I graduated from Madison College. Grantees had to sign up to teach for at least a year in a severely impoverished school anywhere in America. I taught for 3 & 1/2 years in SW Virginia near Bluegrass Central (Galax, VA). I taught 7th-9th grade English, Drama, Journalism. I was the forensics coach. Moved to Connecticut & worked for Lars Lindblad, typing up the manuscript for his autobiography, working with Liz & John Fuller on this book. (They co-wrote "Ghost of Flight 415" & other books about unusual phenomenon. Moved to Colorado in 1982. Worked as "gal friday" for 12 detectives at the Boulder Police Dept. Set up files for DA to use in court amongst other things. Then at a law firm. Next, CU/Boulder for 10 years. At CU, workers could take a free course each semester. So I did 5 Master's levels courses in special ed' & many in creative writing/history/religion & other subjects at the Master's level. I taught "Drama for the Disabled" in Boulder, CO after the teacher had to quit due to health issues. It was wonderful! My last 7 years working, I helped adults/teens/children with various brain differences such as autism. I was diagnosed at age 45 with 3 types of seizures, manic depression (atypical, rarely depressions, mostly manias), OCD & PTSD. At age 67 (!!) this diagnosis was changed. The manias are most likely due to temporal lobe "disturbance." The other symptoms are due to "high functioning" autism or Asperger's. Shock!! I do Tai Chi 3x/day which helps me to calm down. My husband & I work out at a gym 3-5 times/week for balance mostly but also weight training, running etc. We climb the beautiful Rocky Mountain High places (like Long's Peak & Maroon Bells) in summertime/autumn. We love archaeology, so when we travel, it's in order to discover ancient sites. My husband is an actor with a "day job." He has performed in shows with Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof, the road show), Dick van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Firesign Theatre/John Goodman/Annette Bening et al. (Wizard of Oz/radio show) & many other wonderful people since age 14. We have traveled to: Iceland, Scotland (twice), Germany (3 times to visit friends), Ireland & fascinating places in America. We usually spend a month when we travel. So we go about every 5-6 years. Otherwise, we stay at home in a town in Colorado, attending Poetry sessions, working in local theater, enjoying our shelter rescue cats, writing, painting & dancing.

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