The softball teams had lost their shirts on the short, green fields of the city. Summer romances, sparked by the playful pushes around the swimming pools, had fired up and burned out. Visits to grandmothers' houses and the taste of country cooking had become memories as had work -- inhaling grease behind a dozen fast-food counters -- and play -- sneaking off to see X-rated movies. On Saturday night a shoulder-to-shoulder, rocking burst of energy, called the 7th Annual Back-to-School Boogie, locked those easy moments into summer souvenirs.
It was a loud, crowded, sometimes rowdy seasonal rite.
Monica Jackson, 19, was standing by a rail of the Capital Centre, her summer job a memory, the reality of the long ride to her Florida college campus just a few hours away. "This is something to do before school starts," she said listlessly. With the first booming tremor of the Trouble Funk band, her energy exploded, her hands shot above her head, her white sneakers became rhythmic blurs and she shouted, "I feel funk-defied."
The five-hour jam, with six of the hottest dance bands (Aurra, the Sugar Hill Gang, Experience Unlimited, the Sequins, the Reddings and Trouble Funk), sponsored by Dimensions Unlimited, was an event before the first on-stage beat. On the beltway the cars were backed up one mile from the Central Avenue exit and the caravan took on celebratory chants, as people sang and swayed to their car radios. The Boogie was sold out.
Outside, the illegal entrepreneurs yelled, "If you can't get into the concert, you might as well get high." Inside, young couples and groups of young girls were lined up for an instant souvenir -- a photograph portrait in a regal bamboo chair.
Andrea Savoy, 18, was standing around with five friends, watching the photographers, who were watching the fashion parade go by, dominated by shades of red. Savoy's friends had spent the summer typing government reports and ringing up charges for fried chicken. "We're just here to see Trouble, the best group there is," said Savoy, who starts computer electronics school next month. Her friends nudged her striped sweater. "Oh, yeah," she added, in the same stop-and-go staccato as the groups she was describing. "There is the Sugar Hill Gang. I hope they blow it off."
Joseph Brown, 18, and Gail Knight, 18, were stopping the traffic of the mobile blue jeans march with their distinctively different black evening wear. Brown, a Springarn High School night student, who works with a local improvisational theater, was dressed in a loose black suit and wraparound glasses. "We just like dressing differently," said Brown, who had studied the styles in New York's New Wave clubs over the summer.
All you could see was a blanket of baseball caps, headbands and black curls moving as Aurra, the Reddings, the Sequins and Experience Unlimited all shouted a variation of "Are you all right, D.C.?" The music never stopped as each of the band breaks was filled with disco tapes. And the dancing never stopped. A competition between two male trios of dancers created a logjam. The Crowd Pleasers, all dressed in red T-shirts with a sunburst, faced off with Electric Shock, outfitted in yellow running suits with a black electric bolt on their backs, and white gloves. The Shocks had copied all the Jacksons' moves, flexing the shoulders, sliding across the floor, and the Pleasers had created robot gestures they had named "On The Boardwalk" and the "Kraftwerk Fight." All summer long they had been dancing, in Baltimore, on the Eastern Shore, in Annapolis. "We knew this would be a showdown," said Vance Wilkerson, 18, of the Shocks. He tipped the brim of his captain's hat as he moved back into the crowd, and said, "We are the captains of the poppers."
Sitting high above the floor action were six young teens who had decided to bury any feuds over their summer bowling scores and baseball losses and put on their designer-emblem shirts and watch. "Listen, I had a 198 game at the Silver Hill Bowl America," said Walter Nash, 12, "and they announced it over the public address system." Piped up Darrick Ross, 14, "And that's when I got jealous. I had a 170 score." But, Saturday's party, said Ryan Floyd, 15, was "just for fooling around."