The 1950s television show “American Bandstand” was, in many ways, revolutionary. It broadcasted live music performances hosted by Dick Clark and was upbeat, hip and a rocking good time. No Jackets Required (NJR) took inspiration from this era in their “American Bandstand” show on Friday. With period music, performances by UR Swing Club and running commentary by sophomore Dan Gorman — who played Dick Clark — NJR did a great job of recreating the original feel of the show.
In the beginning of the first set, Gorman stood behind a makeshift podium and welcomed everyone to the event, making era-appropriate jokes like, “Hope everyone is watching this on one of their three television channels.” The band opened with the actual “American Bandstand” theme song, which set the tone for the rest of the show and put the audience in the right mood. The UR Swing Club started dancing to the music immediately, pairing off and doing the Charleston among other turns and dips.
UR Swing Club was a great addition to the performance, grabbing unsuspecting audience members and twirling them about. I myself was nabbed twice, and was also taught some basic moves by Swing Club member and junior Rebekah Fleming patiently showed me how to properly Charleston.
The band covered classics like “The Twist” — even if you have two left feet, you can manage the twist. The crowd loved this song and took the opportunity to be actively involved in the show, twisting and dancing to the best of their abilities, and the full brass section definitely gave this tune a true swing feel. As the show went on, the band covered songs like “The Loco-Motion,” “Tequila!” and “Yakety Yak.”
The surprise of the night was when sophomore Mary Juergens, a petite young woman, got up on stage and belted out James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good).” Though it was quite a shock to hear such a large sound from someone of her stature, she truly knew how to bring the house down. Her voice resonated through the May Room, as she most definitely channeled James Brown himself during the song.
Every aspect of this show was in tune with the era it emulated, as the musicians went all-out with costumes. The girls wore poodle skirts, and the guys wore Chuck Taylor high-tops and slicked back their hair with enough gel to make Kenickie from “Grease” jealous.
In between sets, Gorman got up on stage and jokingly thanked the show’s sponsors, such as the ABC Network, Beech-Nut Fruit Stripe Gum (a popular brand in the 1960s ) and the Navy for their support. The irony of this last bit is that a large component of UR Swing Club is made up of NROTC members. Who would have thought that they would be such good swing dancers?
There were some technical issues during a few songs, but for the most part the show went on without a hitch. All-in-all, NJR’s “American Bandstand” show was a great success. The singers were incredibly strong, nailing every note and lyric with practiced precision, the brass section on the side added richness to the music that could not be replaced by anything else and the audience truly seemed to be enjoying every minute of the show.
Sokol is a member of the class of 2013.