Friday, July 20, 2012

Casino Dances

Summer sunset over Lake Julia

The remodeled Casino
The night of the father/daughter dance
At our Buhl Park, there is a building called the Casino. There is no gambling there. It is where the original farm house sat next to the farm pond. Now, this body of water is called Lake Julia, which is actually a reservoir, that we walk over the dam on the north side. A beautiful setting that creates romance.
I was fifteen going to my first summer dances at this building. I'm not sure how I got there this first summer. Dad must have driven us there, but I have really drawn a blank on that. I know the second year when we were sixteen, and someone drove the gang.
These dances had live bands playing the songs. The Casino made out of old wood, like the twenties, painted in flat colors of dark brown and tan. We climbed stairs to the second story in our best summer casual clothes. No dresses. Teens from all over the Shenango Valley already gathered, dancing.
I loved the Beach Boys sets and the Beatles sets. Amazing even then we loved the oldies, and they are still popular. When the music slowed or we didn't like a song, we left the main floor to the balcony around it. A window with no glass provided a place to sit. My freshman estranged boyfriend sat on it one evening. Not being able to drive, we had kind of broken up for the summer. Some of his friends started to drive, bringing him to the dance. After seeing each other, we got back together the next day.
I can't remember who called after the dance, but we talked till three in the morning. He rode his bike downtown and we spent the afternoon together, walking around the cemetery, cause those are the kind of dates you go on in a small town when you don't drive. We talked and talked.
The summer I was sixteen, we had broken up for good, as I wanted to go to prom with a senior that spring. Twice burned, the boyfriend didn't want to go into the frying pan again. So I met lots of boys from all over, Sharon, Hermitage(called Hickory then), Masury, OH, (yes, they crossed the state line) and Sharpsville. I love how we all so easily became friends, all the girls and boys. And we sustained those friendships outside the Casino Tuesday night dances.
Sometimes I wore my hair in a pony tail. Other times, just down. I took a nurse's aid class that summer at Vo-Tech. I paid five dollars and if you had perfect attendance at the end of the course, they returned the money to you. One time, I came home from that class on Casino Dance night, washed my hair and my mother braided small braids all over my head. I let it dry, removed the braids to reveal the Amy Irving hair.(think Carrie.)
We loved these dances, looking forward to them all week. Dancing and then strolling on the balcony. Going downstairs to the concession stand for a refreshment. After the last dance, we then hung out at the McDonald's parking lot, until the security cop suggested we go home. Most of us had to as we were still driving with the Cinderella license.
Just one more crazy memory of my teen years. I don't think they have these dances any more. Funny, how now I live near the Casino, yet my girls never attended one dance there. Had pictures taken outside it for homecoming and prom. I did see a father/daughter dance this spring. The girls wore party dresses, though, much more formal than our nicest jeans and tops.
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