We’re goin’ swingin’
We’re gonna swing in the crowd
And we’ll be clingin’
And floatin’ high as a cloud
The phones are ringin’
My mom and dad are so proud
I’m on Bandstand
“Bandstand Boogie” by Barry Manilow, Bruce Howard Sussman and Charles Albertine
With the recent announcements of the 2010 American Music Awards nominations it brought back some pleasant memories for me. The creator of the American Music Awards is none other than Dick Clark. He was the host of one of my favorite music and dance programs during my childhood. If you want to know why I love music and dancing so much I owe it all to the teen dance party program known as “American Bandstand.”
The Films and Musical “Hairspray”
The John Waters film, Broadway musical and movie based on the musical titled “Hairspray” was about a localized TV program in Baltimore fashioned after “American Bandstand” and its other real-life counterpart. Each local TV station had these dance/music programs in major and mid-sized cities across the country during the ’50s and ’60s. They were on after kids got out of school during the weekday. This was like the MTV of its day. However, the show to watch on the national level, and everyone aspired to be on, was none other than “American Bandstand.” It came on in the afternoon on Saturdays when the cartoons were over with.
Dick Clark – Like a Dance Club DJ
Basically the show was structured with Dick Clark resting comfortably with one arm at his podium. He was the overall host of the show as well as part DJ, much like today’s dance club DJ playing continuous music throughout. A good portion of the show was devoted to playing the latest Top 40 songs while local kids danced for the nationwide audience. There was another Dick Clark ’60s dance spin-off of “American Bandstand” during the weekday afternoons called “Where the Action Is”. It was filmed in various beach setting locations throughout Southern California.
During prime time TV broadcasts two other national dance and variety shows were on once a week in the mid to late ’60s such as “Shindig” and “Hullabaloo.” The latter show actually featured caged go-go dancers. On “Shindig” and “Hullabaloo” they featured more of the rock music acts where “American Bandstand” had the pop and R&B acts as musical guests.
All of these shows truly inspired me to take dance lessons immediately. I wanted so badly to dance on one of these shows when I got older, especially “American Bandstand”, as it was the originator and most prestigious.
“Bandstand Boogie” American Bandstand’s Theme Music
When you heard a new song on the radio more than likely the band or singer was going to be on “American Bandstand”. This was the only way you got to put a face to their music. This show was very much like MTV where you were introduced to new songs during their “Rate-A-Record” segment. They selected two dancers from the crowd who were to rate the featured song and give their opinions. One of the most common feedback quotes was “It has a good beat and you can dance to it.”
Some of the songs made it on the charts while others fell flat after their brief exposure on the show. Legend has it they played an obscure Beatles song before their conquest on the U.S. music scene in 1964. That Beatles song failed miserably on “Rate-A-Record”. Not only were you introduced to different dances, but to various songs and genres that were popular at the time.
One of the many things I loved about the show was the highly infectious theme music that opened and closed the show. It had a big band sound to it that always got my attention. When I was in high school Barry Manilow set words to “Bandstand Boogie” where his version was a huge hit back then.
“American Bandstand” ran from 1952 when it was first a local dance party program in Philadelphia to 1989 when it had a different host in its last year. It set the tone for other dance/music programs to follow such as “Soul Train” and Britain’s version “Top of the Pops”. MTV and VH1 should be grateful to “American Bandstand”, because it gave a lot of people great ideas and wonderful memories.
Barry Manilow, Bandstand Boogie Lyrics, Sing365
Google Images, American Bandstand, Google
Rodney Buxton, “American Bandstand”, The Museum of Broadcast Communications
The Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia
Pat Jacobs, “It Has a Good Beat and You Can Dance to it”, Associated Content from Yahoo!
Broadcast Yourself, YouTube