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Days of Unrave

by David Westheimer


These days, a lot of young people flock to something called a rave. In the olden time, a "rave" meant a wildly enthusiastic review of a play or a movie. Now its a dance event which crowds young people into an often remote site to contort and cavort to music which would send their elders running for cover. And for some of these young people its an excuse to indulge in boozing or snacking on a popular drug called Ecstasy. The names of some of the users show up next morning in newspaper stories about death and destruction on the highways.

Things were not always thus. Young folks used to have fun more quietly. Maybe a little too quietly to suit them. Lets hark back to 1937. I dont know where I got it but I have a list of rules for anyone wanting to use the Houston Recreation Department's Club House back then:

Regulations Governing Conduct Of Groups Using Club House 1937

  • Dress: Must be conductive to etiquette — Men must wear coats.

  • Behavior: No rough or boisterous behavior, profanity, indecent language; games of betting or gambling; smoking (inside of building); use of liquor.

  • Dancing Etiquette: Heads erect (no hunch or slouch). Gentlemans right arm above ladies waistline, left arm extended. Suitable distance between partners. No extreme holds, no extreme dancing, no familiarity. Gentlemen shall not dance together. All couples when dancing must continue around dance floor from left to right. No stopping and blocking other dancers. Couples leaving dance grounds will not be permitted to return.

  • Use of Grounds: Couples shall not loiter unduly or unbecomingly upon grounds.

  • Respect of Property: No littering, abuse, disfiguring or destruction of grounds, building or furnishing.

  • Hours: Groups must vacate the building not later than 11:45 P.M.

  • Failure to comply with these regulations must cause forfeiture of the privileges of using these properties

I dont recall going to a dance in the Recreation Department Club House when I was growing up in Houston but I did go to the Rice Institute Saturday night dances at the Elks Club and I think the same rules pretty much applied except they didnt stop until midnight. And there were some dances called "Germans" (I dont know why) that didnt start until midnight. And a couple could show off on the floor if they wanted. We used to form a circle around a young man called "Shine" Asbury and his sister to watch them do intricate dance steps. Including dips, which Im pretty sure werent allowed at the Recreation Department Club House.

And there wouldnt be room for them to do that at a rave. Young people nowadays dont know what they are missing.


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