The chiffon-draped Shirelles delivered requisite sha-la-la-la-las. The Coasters sang "Yakity Yak." And the dancing crowd was a step ahead of the sequin-encrusted Angels, who beckoned, "Come on baby, let the good times roll."
"With the opening line of every one of these songs your life passes in front of your eyes," said Melody Miller, a '63 high school graduate who was standing on the terrace of Ethel Kennedy's home, Hickory Hill. Below her, some 4,000 people were jiggling and jitterbugging on the lawn as rock 'n' roll stars of the '50s and '60s brought forth a stream of golden oldies in a benefit concert for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's presidential campaign.
At $10 a ticket, the Saturday night "Legends of Rock and Roll" concert -- also featuring Danny and the Juniors, Gary U.S. Bonds, Mary Wells and the Drifters -- was a cheap date as Washington fund-raisers go. And it attracted the area's young professionals, many of whom missed the musical legends the first time around.
But they recalled other legends, and crowded around a souvenir stand to buy John F. and Robert F. Kennedy campaign buttons, as well as those of the current Kennedy crusade -- including "Free the Carter 2,000."
"Bobby's moving real well, and so is this one here of the three brothers," said button salesman Frank Enten, standing next to an actual Kennedy Jungle Gym.
"That's the whole atmosphere of this place. They've got pictures of Jack and Bobby all over the house and in the bathhouse," said Risa Shapiro of Gossamer Productions, which managed the show. "They're bringing it back to the time when they were all alive."
"It's a new campaign with new issues," said Sen. Kennedy's nephew Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "But there still is a lot of that underlying theme of hope, concern and compassion that these people remember."
"That's the spirit we're trying to remember, a time when people thought government can work and that an individual can make a difference," said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, at 29 the oldest of the Kennedy grandchildren.
Her cousin, 20-year-old Kara Kennedy, said she could remember the rock 'n' roll oldies from eighth grade, but she said she does not associate them with her uncles' campaigns.
Meanwhile, Kennedy supporter Vic Taylor, a 32-year-old bartender, said the Kennedys had made a great impression on him when he was "having a good time, growing up, and surviving the '60s." Taylor was initially optimistic about Kennedy's taking the Democratic nomination: "I think things are looking up . . ." he said, changing his mind in mid-sentence. "No, not really. I don't think he'll get it."
Flory and Ed Sand of North Lauderdale, Fla., formerly of Cleveland, said they had been coaxed to the concert by their 38-year-old son. "We always think about John F. Kennedy," said Sand, a long-time Kennedy supporter. "This brings back those times. We just hope those times will come back."
Near the stage, couples executed the Twist, the Swim, the Shag and variations on the contemporary disco bump. Ricky "Smiley" Westman stood writhing and scratching himself as the Coasters sang "Poison Ivy." A 34-year-old volunteer with the Allentown, Md., fire department, Westman boasts ownership of 5,000 45s and 550 albums from the 1940s and 1950s.
"I came here for the music. I'm not political. I just wish Skeeter Davis was here," said Westman who, holds weekly '50s parties at the firehouse and "grooves all night long."
"We're definitely here for the bands. We're not for Kennedy at all," said 24-year-old Tom Viergever, as his friend, beach boy look-alike Paul Pollack, shouted, "Reagan all the way."
"I'm from Kansas, of course I'm for Reagan," chimed Jennifer Barr, a 19-year-old Georgetown University summer student, was dressed in preppie plaid Bermuda shorts, as were many of the women.
Pollack, an Emory University student with an alligator on his T-shirt, placed a cup of beer on his head and shimmied his hips in a demonstration of the Worm as the Coasters sang "Charlie Brown." He declined, however, to perform the Gator, another dance, which he said "is lewd with clothes on. You can only do it in the South."
Kennedy organizers estimated a net receipt of $20,000 from the concert, for which the performers donated their time.
As she climbed back on a shuttle bus destined for a parking lot near Tysons Corner, one woman happily exclaimed, "So this is Camelot. It's not such a bad image after all."
But even Camelot was not free of the problems that plague many teenage dance parties. Just after 11:30, as the Drifters sang "Save the Last Dance for Me," host Robert Kennedy Jr. stepped on stage to put an end to the bopping. The neighbors were complaining about the noise.