It’s funny to me that the exterior shots of Footloose were shot in Lehi, UT (the giant roller-mills of the LDS Church’s grain silos feature heavily), because Mormons love dancing. Love it! BYU has a terrific ballet-dance program, for example. But the real proof is the main activity for the youth on the weekends: church dances. When you live in a heavily Mormon-populated area, the different Stakes (think of a Catholic Diocese) will even schedule their dances so that there’s one Friday and Saturday night, every weekend of the month.
If the kids are inside listening to wholesome music, they can’t get into trouble, right? WRONG. Okay, it’s just me who got themselves into trouble at these wholesome events. I blame George Michaels. …Lemme ‘splain.
First, to say that I was a sheltered young lady at the time is a gross understatement. I didn’t know where the noses went when you kissed someone until I was in a Dangerous Kissing Situation at 16. (A boy kissed me goodnight. It was stressful. I got over it. And how!) Second, all of the albums spun at church dances were owned BY the church. There was a committee, albums were voted on, and then purchased. YMMV at different church houses, but this is how it was done at ours. It was cheaper than hiring a DJ, someone who might bring questionable music. (Read: something salacious or not spiritually uplifting.)
I also grew up in the house of musicians, so I seriously love music. It’s a part of my everyday existence, and often times, I’m so involved in the actual music that I don’t pay attention to the lyrics, or vice versa. We got MTV when I was 11, just after it was available, and we had Rules on what was allowed to be watched. (Which my sister and I constantly tried to sneak around. I mean, there was no greater show in the ’80s than 120 Minutes. That was how you found the cool music.) But the sexy stuff? Nuh uh. No way. Locked down.
Naughty stuff (Madonna, etc.) was only shown late at night–after my curfew–on MTV, so I missed a lot of the hyper-sexualization of envelope-pushing that was going on at the time. To me, George Michaels was just the guy with fabulous hair and an off-the-shoulder sweatshirt in neon from Wham! wanting to jitterbug, singing about careless whispers…of. A. Good. Friend. I just… I didn’t know. I mean, gay? That guy? He wore leather, for crying out loud. That was so manly, come on. (See what I mean? Sheltered.)
Cut to one of my first dances when I’m about fourteen or fifteen. My dad was one of the many, many chaperones making sure that hands were where the Lord intended (shoulders and waist), and that a bible’s space between bodies were maintained on the slow songs, thank you.
Because I was shy (and unattractive and dorky) I didn’t get asked to dance on slow songs. Total wallflower, me. So my dad would waltz me around, which was sweet and lovely, and he’s a good guy. He would count under his breath, “One, two, three!” and keep the beat with his elbows, and I just love my dad, okay?
But I don’t love my dad. I need to stress that. Because, you see, I had the kid who was DJing put on “Father Figure,” a brand new hit on the airwaves, a record that somehow made it into the church building. And I did that so I could dance with my sweet Pops. Because it sounded like a nice daddy-daughter tune; it started off with the words “sacred,” after all. Can’t get more wholesome than that!
If you aren’t making horrified noises right about now, that must mean you don’t know the song. Here. Take a listen. You back? Horrified? Okay. Continuing.
The line after “someone sacred in your eyes” is “to be warm and naked at my side.” I literally have tears running down my face right now from laughing over how awful this whole experience was. My poor father–trying to maintain proper waltz-form with his arms, confused, so confused, the man has never been more lost in his life–stuttered a bit on the three, his eyes squinched shut and his head tilted, listening, like, “Is she serious? Do I need to put this child in a Home? What is happening?” as I looked around the room, smiling, so proud to have such a great dad looking out for me and…
…and then the lyrics hit my addlepated brain-pan, and yeah. This was officially the most awkward moment of my life. The whole room is swaying uncomfortably (probably because of the song being played in the actual church, although in my mind it was because everyone was assuming there were some Flowers in our Attic, if you catch my drift) and the song kept playing.
I think the leaders in charge of the event let the song go on for about a minute after the words kicked in before sloooooowly fading it out and queueing up something more appropriate and safe, like Bananarama or Lionel Ritchie. Dancing on the Ceiling! Those are some church-sanctioned shenanigans!
I wasn’t granted any more “ladies choice” picks from the DJ booth for awhile. But guys? I didn’t know. I, uh, started listening to lyrics a little more closely after that. Wow, there are a lot of songs about boning, who knew? Everyone but me, apparently.
See, this is why it’s important not to shelter your kids from sexy music. I think the only way this could have been worse would be if I’d picked “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Missed that horrorshow accidentally happening by a few years. THANK GOODNESS.