14 December 2014

Crazy Dancin’ Christopher (No, Really)

I remember dancing at a very young age. As I grew up, I danced in theater, taught dance, and danced for recreation. I mean I danced a LOT. (You can see very early footage of just how crazy I was about dancing here.)

When I was young, our summer vacations always ended with a huge Labor Day picnic for the employees of the company where my father worked, Western Gillette -- sorta like the big company fete you see in the movie musical Pajama Game. It was always held in Paradise Valley (Arizona) at the Paradise Inn (pictured) -- a big, old, sprawling resort that opened in 1944 and had a real Western feel to it. It’s now long gone, with the Phoenician Resort sitting where it used to be. I loved those picnics because they had a big bar-be-que, games for the kids, drawings for prizes, swimming and lots of fun stuff.

One year, when I was about the same age as the above video, I entered a dance contest at one of the picnics. It was open only to kids, and there were many rounds where the winner worked his/her way up. Kinda like a March Madness of dancing. It was a tough slog that finally got down to me and this little blonde girl a couple years older than me. Well, I whooped ass and won! For my efforts, I got a huge box of chocolates.

The picnics -- and, really, my childhood -- ended sometime in the early or mid 1970s when Western Gillette was bought out by the Roadway company. I don't think they ever had company picnics again. If they did, I know I didn’t go to any. Isn't that sad?

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