Gazette Article by: Barbara Joyce
Appeared in the Gazette: Winter 1994
Winnetka Way articles are written by guest columnists who have been asked to share their memories of an aspect of Winnetka that they remember fondly. Winnetka Way articles debuted in 1994 and continue to the present.
Dancing the Watusi…No Necking
In the days when “hootenanny” was a household word, Winnetka had its own teen dance club, the Rolling Stone. I was eager to go to the Stone, but membership was restricted to teenagers who lived or attended high school in New Trier Township. Being only 12, I was too young.
In the spring of 1965 my three friends and I wore identical clothing. We wandered Glencoe and Winnetka. We frequented Ricky’s, Lenny’s, Hubbard’s Cupboard and the Sweet Shop.
Then we got our chance to be cool. Amy, one of our foursome, had a brother, an aspiring Mick Jagger, whose band was booked for a Saturday night at the Stone. This provided us the ruse we needed to get through the door: We knew Mark, the lead singer.
It worked! After paying the $1.00 admission fee, we were allowed entry to 513 Lincoln Avenue, the Rolling Stone—a former garage turned disco. In this smoky atmosphere of about 750 teenagers, we pushed our way through to the stage. There was Mark, singing, gyrating, winking—looking like the real thing. Around us couples were dancing the frug, the watusi, the jerk and the swim.
A boy came up to ask Amy to dance. Amy was tall, looked 17. Another boy approached me. He asked, “How old are you?” “Fifteen,” I lied. He poked his finger into my chest. “You are not,” he sneered, walking away. A slow song came on, and couples got together to sway back and forth to the music in each other’s arms.
Suddenly I looked up the four-step platform to the door where the bouncer stood guard. There was a figure so out of place that I felt everyone in the room must have noticed her: my mother. There she was, decades older than the oldest teenager, unashamed in her village coat and hat. In the momentary quiet at the end of the song, she called out through the crowd, “Barb? Barb?”
I raced to her, to escort her out as quickly as possible, before anyone would notice we were related; before others would realize I was “Barb.” “I came to pick you up,” she explained, once we were outside. “But you’re a half hour early,” I complained, still reeling from humiliation. “And I told you I’d be waiting in front,” I whined.
She ignored me. “Was that dancing?” she asked incredulously. She had seen the slow number. “It looked more like bear-hugging to me, when those boys and girls embraced like that. Did you do that kind of dancing?”
I slunk down low in the Valiant station wagon. As if anyone would ask me to dance. Nevertheless, the embarrassment reversed itself: Now I was ashamed of the antics of my generation.
The Stone, located where Fell’s is today, was short-lived. It opened December 11, 1964 and closed in 1967. On the membership card, which cost 5 cents, were the rules: No drinking, No necking. Slow-dancing, or “bear-hugging,” evidently was okay.