Elementary school was a hopping place
Tuesday, Oct. 23
After dodging 45-rpm records hanging from the ceiling, party-goers encountered air-filled plastic blue and pink guitars mounted on one cafeteria door, and a psychedelic jukebox on the other.
On the other side of the doors, music from the 1950s and '60s, like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," pulsated. Strobe lights flashed on the dimly lit floor and elementary school-aged children as they danced.
Girls in long A-line and ruffled skirts, and white anklets slipped into black shoes twisted and turned beside boys with slicked-back hair and rolled-up blue jeans. One girl dressed as a carhop with an aqua hat, a black top with short sleeves trimmed in white and an aqua ruffled skirt.
This was the Sock Hop at C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School Friday night.
"They've done this every year since the beginning of time," said Megan Kelley, organizer of the event. The school has held the Sock Hop since it opened in 1990.
About 300 people were there, including older siblings, said Cristy Thorpe, the principal. C. Hunter Ritchie teaches 420 students.
Under the bright fluorescent lights in the rear of the room, 21 people stood in line for cotton candy. Retired principal Lee Bell twirls white cones in the feathery strands. Blue tufts of candy stick to the dark hairs of his arm.
Katy Kuzma waits her turn in front of Bell. The freckled 8-year-old said she danced the cha-cha, the bunny hop, the macarena and the chicken dance.
Jen Bird, the physical education teacher, began preparing students for the sock hop soon after the school year started. She taught 10 to 11 dances, she said.
"The way we do it, nobody is watching anybody else," said Bird. "And I'm not afraid to make a fool of myself in front of them."
Not everyone likes to dance, like Ryan Beatty. The second-grader, dressed in a brown leather jacket with "Fifties Thunderbirds" decorating the back, has some hand-to-mouth action going with a bag of popcorn. When asked about his plans, he said, "Eat." Smiling, he displays two quarters in his hand for a second bag of popcorn.
Kindergarten teacher Theresa Abrahams manned the root beer float table. One of her students brought his sock puppet. She saw him dancing with it.
Toward the end of the night, smoke filled the stage where children danced. Off to the side teachers-turned-disc-jockeys Bird and Steve Aiello kept the music flowing.
This was Kelley's first time organizing the Sock Hop. She said there is a binder that contains everything you need to know, including a shopping list.
"They've got it down to an art form," said Kelley. Twenty teachers and 26 parents decorated, served and provided security.
Kelly has a daughter in fifth grade, who will move on to Auburn Middle School next year. Now that she knows how, she wants to start a sock hop there.
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