They were bustin' to boogie. Dyin' to dance. But if you're a man or a woman in uniform, it seems you can't just shake your booty anywhere.
"They don't want their boss to see 'em," said Air Force Lt. Clair Wyre.
"I know I don't want my boss to see me."
It was disco day at the Pentagon yesterday. For the first time, the outdoor courtyard of the nation's military hub rattled and rolled to the upbeat sounds of funk.
But while civilian hips undulated in freedom to the pounding beat of Stephanie Mills and Teena Mairie, most officers in the lunchtime crowd sat this one out on the sidelines, afraid to unleash their happy feet.
"You wouldn't see anybody dancing in uniform," said an Air Force officer who asked not to be named. "There are just certain things you don't do in uniform."
Disco, it seems, is one of them.
Nevertheless, some military toes could be spied tapping near benches, or wiggling in the grass. A few officers even moved their arms frontward and backward in apparent tandem with the beat.
One appeared to twist a little, but it might have been an itch.
"I think it will take a while to catch on," said Army Maj. Karl Sakas, whose tapping shoes seemed to have a mind of their own. "It will take time for people to lose their inhibitions."
Yesterday's two hours of disco fever was a spicy departure from the Pentagon courtyards's usual fare. Employes are more accustomed to glee clubs, church choirs, square dancers and military bands.
But many in the crowd yesterday couldn't have been more pleased.
"I've been here six years and I feel empty when I go back to the office," said Air Force Sgt. Houston DeBerry. "There's no variety. Now I can go back to the office and know that the system is working. They've got something for everybody."
"Out of sight," said Pentagon mailroom clerk Fred Massey."They ought to do this every day."
Near the courtyard stage, Massey and other lower-echelon Pentagon employes bumped bottoms, dipped hips and jiggled generously. Others searched for partners with eyes ablaze.
"Want to dance?" one secretary asked a passing reporter, nearly leaping at him. "I've got to go grab me somebody."
Even the more elderly in the crowd seemed to tolerate the display of unbridled enthusiasm.
"I like it," said Wayne Cornett, a technical information specialist for the joint chiefs of staff. "But I have teen-agers of my own. I'm used to it."
But his bench partner, a secretary for the joint chiefs, finished her peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a frown.
"This is not my favorite music," said Carol Ward. "I prefer something quieter, instead of a bunch of screaming and yelling."
With the nation's innermost secrets tucked neatly behind nearby security doors and Navy helicopters flying overhead, Air Force Sgt. Ron Bellows jockeyed two hours of disco hits.
Bellows, who works in the Pentagon for the Defense Intelligence Agency, has sunk $6,000 into his "Funk and Pump" sideline, which normally plays Sunday nights at Fort Myer. "I'll pump it, you funk it," is his credo.
Despite yesterday's relatively light turnout, he hopes to go back to the courtyard. "The thing that's important is the atmosphere. I got a light show, with mirror balls and everything. You don't have a light show, you got no atmosphere."
But others seemed certain that disco has seen its last day at the Pentagon.
"I'm sure that if some of the brass don't like it, we won't have it again." said one officer. "But that's the military."