Prom Night – My Grand Entrance

The American tradition of a prom night bash for teens migrated to the UK some time ago and a conversation with some of the girls at our pub about their dresses sent me searching through my files for a photo of mine. I seem to remember floor length and sweet as being very in style in 1977 unlike what I think of as the “sexy too soon” look that has been the rage for a long time.

I’d be willing to bet none of the girls I talked with will be wearing anything as demure as my cream-colored Gunne Sax dress with all of its lace, and pearl buttons. I’m not saying sleek and glamorous should be ditched in favor of a dress that looks as if you’re practicing for a premature walk down the wedding aisle, but do girls have really to look so old, so soon?

In the photo above, I’m standing in front of my high school sweetheart’s house making some serious googly-eyes at him. Looking at it now you’d never believe the experience we’d shared less than an hour or so earlier when he’d arrived at my house to pick me up for the evening.

I’d spent all afternoon getting ready as I struggled to make my normally stick straight hair bend to my will. It took less time than I expected so I was ready before my date was due to arrive. My step-mom, Cullene saw his car (no limo for us) coming through the trees down the long gravel road that connected our home in the woods to the rest of the world. She suggested that I should go back upstairs so I could come down the curving staircase and make an entrance befitting my dress and the occasion.

Lifting the hem of my dress a few inches so as not to trip, I ran up the stairs and stood off to one side so I couldn’t be seen from below. I listened as my dad opened the door and greeted my boyfriend and then heard Cullene say, “Elizabeth, Scott’s here.” Pausing for a moment at the top of the stairs, I looked down over the railing smiling at my boyfriend who was wearing a dark suit that he could wear again instead renting a pastel tux, a look that was very popular that year.

It was the most dressed up I’d ever seen him as he lived in jeans and t-shirts no matter what the season, but I didn’t have time to think about how handsome he looked or what he might be thinking about my dress because as my eyes met his and I took the second step intending to glide down the stairs like a romantic figure in a Jane Austin novel, my new shoes slipped on the carpet causing my feet to go straight out in front of me as the heels of my shoes snapped off. I hit the stairs hard and slid on my backside, bumping down three or four steps before coming to a stop.

I was shocked out of my embarrassment when I heard Cullene say, ” Oh Elizabeth! Are you okay? ” Almost as soon as I said, ” Yes,” I heard my family begin to laugh nervously as if they were having trouble keeping it in but didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I was laughing too before long and poor Scott, who didn’t know what to make of us by now laughing like we were coming unglued, shook his head and walked towards the door doing his best to keep from losing it too.

After realizing my high-heeled opened toed sandals had suddenly become flats, I worried aloud about what to do for shoes until my dad grabbed a hammer and some small nails and pieced them back together so we could go on to the prom.

There are of course other parts of the evening that I remember, such as our expensive dinner with its tiny portions and the grandness the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom, but the most memorable moment for me remains my dramatic entrance and how quickly I bounced back afterwards.

I’d love to hear your prom night stories if you have one or a most embarrassing moment if you’re feeling brave. 

“What Song Is It You Wanna Hear?”

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd (Internet Image)

In 1976, rock musicians were still limited in their physical movement by the length of the cords that connected them to their amplifiers. Attached as they were to the volume control, they could leap and dance about while they played, but only so far.

Music can act as a link for many of us with certain songs tethering us to old memories like those amp cords allowing us to gain distance, but never completely disconnect. We may hear a song in a different location years on, but within a few notes we’ve shifted back to the time when everything around us imprinted along with the music, linking it forever in a sort of soundtrack for our lives.

Last night I was at our village pub celebrating my friend Kate’s 50th birthday. It was quite the party with live music and great food and I had fun chatting with the people who’ve become my friends. It was at the end of the evening after having put on my coat while giving my husband a look that said, ” I’m ready to go if you are … ” that I heard the opening chords to a song that only has one memory for me.

It’s the summer of 1976. I’m fifteen and lost in the screaming energy of southern rock fans who don’t want the show to end. I have a perfect seat although I have spent little of the concert in it and from my position in the center section of the balcony, I can see the stage clearly and part of the audience below.

It’s one of three sold out shows being recorded for their live album, ” One More From The Road ” and fans of the band are making their thoughts heard. They want to hear another song before they go and I join in with the others shouting and clapping as we try to bring back the band for another encore because there’s one more song we need to hear before we say goodnight.

My voice is strained and I’m sweaty from dancing in place. I’m dancing alone, but together along with 4,677 other fans calling out and demanding in a way, to hear that one last tune.

The crowd roars as the band retakes the stage and Ronnie Van Zant, lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, asks that now famous question in southern rock circles, ” What song is it you wanna hear? ” It’s in the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia that a sort of musical history is made when the crowd responds in what sounds like one explosive voice with only two words,

Free Bird!

Listening last night as the lone musician played the southern rock classic, I closed my eyes a few times remembering myself at 15 and that night when for a few minutes all that seemed to matter was a song. In a funny twist towards the end, I realized I was looking down at his shoes with no particular thought.

There was nothing wrong them, they were just ordinary shoes, but after about the third glance and somewhere around the words, ” Lord, I can’t change … ” I realized that I was looking at his feet because Ronnie Van Zant always went barefoot on stage and I remembered that I’d read that he did it because he liked to feel the stage burn.

While I was never the Confederate flag waving, Dixie loving, fan of southern rock music, that some of my friends were, I loved certain songs and ” Free Bird ” was one of them.

For years it has been a song that people shout out at inappropriate times at concerts or on other occasions when they think it might be funny. I’m sure many have no idea of the origin or why they do it. They just do it because their buddy did it once and got a laugh so they try it too.

I think it deserves better than to be used in a bad bid for attention by someone with no more creativity than that, but then that’s coming from someone who was actually there when the question was asked, and had a chance to answer.

It’s a special memory that 35 years later still has the power to make me remember a time when shouting, ” Free Bird ” was no joke, but simply a song request.

If you have a special song or a concert memory that takes you back maybe you could share it in a comment below. Don’t forget to leave a comment on Monday’s post if you’d like a chance to win my contest and thanks to everyone who has left one there already. I’m loving finding out new things about old friends as well as having the opportunity to meet more of you for the first time.