Friday, May 27, 2011
The night I danced with Tina Turner.
My dad said he was at Club Imperial (in St. Louis) the first night Ike called Tina up on stage. Hmm, Club Imperial. That's also the place where I met my daughter's dad (I really can't say ex-husband because it was only a one-year marriage), a blind date set up by my friend Maryanne. Our dates were newly home from Viet Nam. That was a stormy night; not tornado stormy but snow stormy. After leaving Club Imperial we changed into warmer clothes then piled into my soon-to-be baby daddy's Volkswagen and headed to Art Hill (the art museum in Forest Park) to go sledding.
The night I danced with Tina Turner was tornado stormy. Watches and warnings had been in effect all day and into the night. The year was 1968 and Ike and Tina Turner were playing at Riverview High School. Come hell, high water, high winds, Maryanne and I were going to see Ike and Tina. In the words of Diana Ross "No wind, no rain, can stop me babe...."
It was the Motown era and everyone in St. Louis could dance. Soul was the operative word and we were brimming with it, even us white kids living in the suburbs going to Catholic school. Us girls would practice dance moves in someone's basement rec room. We'd do East Coast swing, switching off who was the boy and who was the girl because when it came time to go to the weekly dance we'd be the ones to get the party started. Girls always danced with girls. The boys stood at the edge of the dance floor, looking cool and uninterested with their slicked-back hair, jeans, white socks and penny loafers. But that was just a facade, a pose. They couldn't wait to get out there and join us.
The night I danced with Tina Turner the gym was practically empty. My guess from this distance is that maybe fifty people were there but it could've been less. The stage wasn't much of a stage - more like a platform - so the band was up close. And the band played as though to a sell-out crowd in Europe. Sweat flew from Tina. As she wiped those fake bangs from her forehead she said "you've got to have grease to cook" and, man, was she cookin'.
Then one of the Ikettes came down and pulled me up on the stage and there I was, Proud Marying all over the place, doing that Tina Turner shimmy but without the Tina Turner dress (or legs). "And we're rolling, rolling, rolling down the river...."
It's funny the connections we have that slip by unnoticed. My dad, Club Imperial, my daughter's dad, Ike and Tina Turner, Maryanne being at both places - the night I met you-know-who and the night I danced with Tina Turner.
And one other connection with Maryanne. It was in her apartment, in her bed, under a PARACHUTE that I first had sex with that man who'd been a paratrooper in Viet Nam. It was the night I first had sex ever. Not making out and feeling up sex but the real deal. We were in Springfield, Missouri, sixty miles from Joplin.