Here’s what we are dealing with today: a second place ribbon from the Fort Worth Independent School District’s “Fitness Festival.” What that was was an aerobic dance contest. My 4th grade class at Tanglewood Elementary had a routine to the Bee Gees “Night Fever,” which was already 3 years old by that time but still going strong, at least to the P.E. teachers at Tanglewood. I say routine, but it was really just a couple of grapevines, then a couple of kicks and then we did a quarter turn and started the sequence all over again. We repeated this on all four sides, over and over. We thought we were hot shit.
The night of the program (I seem to recall we were at the Tarrant County Convention Center or at least somewhere else crazy big), were were nervous but confident. We were set to “perform” second to last. All the other schools were not even trying in the choreography department.
It was hard to hear our song at first, the space was so big and the PA was so loud and distorted. But we got it the hell together. After the song had faded and the last kick and half-assed shuffle was managed, we were happy that all those other schools got served by us.
But then, hold up a min… Eastern Hills Elementary took the floor in full-on costumes. Leotards, sequins, the whole nine. They had a full routine choreographed from beginning to end. Those kids were dancing like they were in a dance class, not an aerobics class for old ladies. We were all “did we just get served?” We knew we had.
Epilogue: That following year, I moved out of the Tanglewood area and to — you guessed it — the Eastern Hills area. There was a whole dance program there at EHE and a big show called the “Dance-a-rama,” performed near the end of the school year. I danced the “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Shaft,” and “Disco Mickey Mouse” dances (the last one was a hand-selected group and was the feature dance in the Dance-a-rama, y’all; P.S. it was already 1981 but we were still all about disco).