The Dance Party Lives On

Dick ClarkIt was a cosmic convergence of pop culture stars: the invention of television, the emergence of rock n’ roll, and the first generation of baby boomer teens.

This music was hardly the passing fad that many predicted. As Danny and the Juniors announced:

Rock ‘n roll is here to stay,
it will never die.
It was meant to be that way,
though I don’t know wh.y
I don’t care what people say,
rock ‘n roll is here to stay.

TV made rock n’ roll a national phenomenon, led by a Pied Piper who looked scarcely older than the kids he was leading.

Dick Clark was American Bandstand. The show transcended a mere music party. It was a coming-of-age baby boomer pageant. A teen soap opera. Will Justine and Bob break-up? Will Penny and Eddie make-up? The TV dancers became instant celebrities splashed on magazine covers, models for teen passion and fashion. It was the start of the boomer consumer juggernaut.

Check out some of the acts that appeared on American Bandstand in this YouTube clip:


The Pied Piper ran a tight ship. He was well aware of thecontroversy over rock n’ roll. It was labeled “jungle music.” Bandstand regularsThe lyrics were called “vile.” Frank Sinatra described it as “the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form ofexpression it has been my misfortune to hear.” A bill was introduced in Congress to banshipment of “obscene” music across state lines. It didn’t pass.

The young Bandstand lads were clothed in coats and ties; the girls wore modest dresses. There was spirited, but not “crazy” dancing. No body rubbing or kissing onslow songs.

American Bandstand ran in Philadelphia before going national in 1957. It lasted an amazing 32 years, reflecting all the major music trends, from disco to heavy metal.

Each program featured famous singers live, lip-syncing their latest hits. From day one, Clark was never afraid to showcase some of the wildest acts of the day including Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.

Terry Hamburg writes the Boomer to You blog about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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