It’s that time of the year again:
Whenever early June rolls around, I get a bit nostalgic about the annual Milligan event. This, in turn, makes me think about Milligan dances in general.
The bigger dances featured whatever incarnation of The Rumbles existed at the time. What I remember most about those days, however, is main street.
Ah, yes – cruising up and down Milligan’s main drag, waiting for the perfect time to go into the auditorium. There was a point in high school that there were so many cars traveling up, down and around the street it was bumper-to-bumper.
A high-schooler’s worth then was measured by the quality of their car. I could be remembering incorrectly, but I believe at one point there was a hearse – maybe an old fire truck? – involved. For what that’s worth, I’m not sure.
My best friend drove a red Grand Am, and we’d roll the windows down so people could hear what great taste we had in music. She had a mix tape (yes, a cassette tape) with a Metallica song on it, which was very important because we wanted people to think we were cool. We’d rewind the tape over and over, so that Metallica would be blasting as much and as loud as a Grand Am’s speakers could handle.
During the Metallica binge, we’d be on the lookout for oncoming vehicles; not specifically to avoid them, but to see who waved at us. If a carload of girls waved, we were in good standing. If we liked them, we waved back. Otherwise, we’d act like we were looking at something else – same if “uncool” guys waved. (“As if!”) If hot guys waved? We didn’t want to seem too eager to wave back; sometimes they just got a head nod.
Based on the above, we’d decide to head into the auditorium. Usually at eight or nine(ish). The mass of humanity on that dance floor is beyond anything I have ever seen to this very day. It was hot and muggy with plenty of spilled drinks, broken hearts and fights. Guys: wear something expensive (Tommy Hilfiger was a pretty safe bet). Gals: wear as little as possible. I recall sneaking out of the house for one Rumbles dance with a halter top on, and snuck out for another dance in a backless shirt – yes, it was a thing back then. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)
As we got older and could go into bars or knew of parties elsewhere, my friend and I’s attendance at those dances dwindled. I’m not sure if The Rumbles still perform, but there’s usually something worth seeing at least once a year.
Something I’m sure will someday make another seventeen-year-old remember June Jubilee two decades later.