I went to my first dance when I graduated from the sixth grade. It was 1966 and, in and of itself, the dance with its steady stream of soul music was pretty amazing as a punctuation mark on my childhood.
Coming out of my school in the early evening, I felt the power of what embarking on a new road meant. Okay, not exactly how I would describe 7th Grade at I.S. 44 on West 77th Street — or the move from my beloved downtown to the upper west side of Manhattan, but I didn’t know that at the time and as tears stung my eyes, I felt elated by the prospect of engaging the unknown.
By then I had discovered jazz on WLIB-FM and the other stations on each end of the dial. Those were the cool stations, the ones that played jazz and soul 24-7.
Sitting there watching the world unfold in the light breeze of the early morning air I felt invincible.
It’s a feeling I get from boxing sometimes, when going through my paces I feel completely in tune. I have it traveling too; walking down a back street in a town, listening to the refrains of life as I pass my, a walking spirit through countless unseen lives.
Later that day, the song Cool Jerk by the group The Capitals came on. That song was like a hyped-up tonic to me and seemed to optimize the feeling I had of beginning a new journey. Every time I listened to it that summer I felt the thrill of it – and even now if I want a giant pick-me-up I’ll just play that song and something will kick-in to bring on a great big smile.
Yep, I felt like the heaviest cat, the world had ever seen.