Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Church dance: “We don’t have to take our clothes off”

You ever wonder how different life would be if you said yes to something instead of no, or vice versa? I’ve had a few of those in my life.

Recently, I thought of one when I heard “We don’t have to take our clothes off”, this one–hit wonder from the ‘80s by an artist named Jermaine Stewart.

I cannot think of a more fitting song at a church dance.

The decision
It was the fall of 1986 and I was at the Sportsplex in Lethbridge watching a high school football game with my buddies Randy and Dave. Our beloved Kate Andrews Spartans had lost again, and we were leaving the field when Randy pointed to a nearby church.

He kind of liked a girl who went to that church. Through his connections, he heard there was a church dance that night. She might be there, and he kind of wanted to check it out.

Dave and Randy were always up for trying something new.

I, on the other hand, was always the cautious and tentative one. My first thought was, that we weren’t invited. What would happen if we got caught? I was afraid of making a scene.

The others all scoffed, so I just went along.

There really was no need to worry.

The dance
We could hear the music pulsing as we approached the front doors. Again, I was ready to turn around.

Dave and Randy said we just had to act like we belonged, so Randy grabbed the door pulled it open boldly and walked through, with the rest of us following behind.

“We don’t have to take our clothes off” was playing. We hovered near the back of the room. Dave and Randy took the initiative and asked two girls to dance. I thought that was awesome. I was also just struck by how everyone looked so good.

Then it happened.

This girl walked up to me and asked me to dance.

It was the moment of truth for an insecure 16-year-old high-school kid.

“No, thanks,” I said.

Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

The song ended, the guys seemed pretty thrilled with themselves, and we left. All they really wanted to do was check out the dance, which they did.

We spent the rest of the night cruising up and down Mayor Magrath Drive, then grabbed a pizza at Buffalo Bill's and went home.

The song
“We don’t have to take our clothes off” reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as number two in Canada and the United Kingdom. The song also appeared on "Miami Vice", as so much pop music of the time did as well.

Parting thoughts
Every time I hear “We don’t have to take our clothes off”, I think of that church dance. I can even still picture the blue striped flannel shirt I was wearing.

I sometimes wish 45-year-old Rob Vogt could go back and give his 16-year-old head a shake. It seems like such a little thing, but I wonder every so often what would have changed in me had I said yes. Would it have given me just a bit more self-confidence when I needed it most? Would we have hung around and danced more? Would we have met some interesting people? And what about the girl? It took courage to ask, and I rejected that? How did that make her feel?

Maybe we would have just left after that one dance was over anyway.

Obviously, without a hot tub time machine, we’ll never know.

But knowing myself, had I had fun I would have wanted to stay, and I know it would not have taken too much to convince the others.

But we’ll never know.

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