KHJ – The “Real” Don Steel – April 26, 1966 –
It’s April 1966 – you’re in the middle of your first semester of High School. You feel unquestionably inferior to just about everyone around you. You are no longer “bitchin'” or “outta sight” like you were just a year earlier – it’s all new now – back on the bottom rung of the ladder. You are invisible and girls no longer notice you.
Every Friday night your school holds a dance – they call it Sports Night, and you really don’t know why. The Student Body is in charge and you get hawked for tickets by the Seniors all week long.
You have nothing against dancing – you practice in front of your bedroom mirror a lot. You have the moves down – you can even do splits – not as good as James Brown, but . . .not bad for a white kid. You watch Shindig and 9th Street West and you secretly like American Bandstand, but you wouldn’t be caught dead actually dancing out in public – that wouldn’t be cool.
You have decided being cool is the way to go – and dancing isn’t cool. Cool for you is standing a foot away from the bass player, staring at him while he plays. You occasionally bob your head, but you keep your hands in your pocket and look like you’re on an inspection trip – making sure the band is playing okay and nobody is screwing up. Sometimes you applaud when the song is over; two or three claps, at most – sometimes its a slight nod of the head with half-shut eyes – they have gotten your cool-seal of approval.
Occasionally you look over your shoulder to the dance floor and you see a girl you’ve had your eyes on since the first day. You quickly turn around and concentrate on the band. You’re too cool to ask her to dance – you’re too cool to talk to her. Actually, every ounce of saliva has drained from your mouth and you are terrified and wouldn’t know what to say or she would quickly find out you are the idiot you are convinced you are.
So you play it cool and continue your inspection trip. And while a fast number gets the room moving, you’re still standing next to the bass player, nodding your head as if Wipe Out is sending you messages.
You aren’t alone though. There’s about seven other guys doing exactly the same thing you are – not dancing; standing a foot away from the stage – pissing off the lead singer who is trying to connect with any of the girls he’s trying to make eye contact with.
And that’s your Friday night, in a nutshell.
You don’t know it now, but by the time you graduate and head towards college, you’ll be one of those guys who takes his clothes off the second the count-off starts and you will become “that naked guy leaping around to music no one can hear”.
The land of extremes – that’s you.
At least there one constant – KHJ and The Real Don Steele providing the backdrop to your April in 1966.
Editors note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.