Recently I have found myself fascinated by the old televised dance shows. I’m sure some of these have been completely lost or forgotten with no traces remaining. Many of the more regional dance shows may not have been filmed when they aired. The ones that were recorded quite possibly ended up as a bunch of old film in a landfill as time marched on. A
couple of the mainstream dance shows were televised and you can fortunately find some traces of them on places such as YouTube. Watching these shows gives us the opportunity to see not only the dances and hear the favorite bands and tunes of the time but to see the clothing fashions, the foot ware and the hairstyles that were popular then. Even the body language of the dancers tells us something about the era.
The dance shows, the performance of songs on television and AM radio were the main ways for artists to get their music in the mainstream during this time. I believe that the live performance of songs by the artists was what gave these shows their longevity and their loyal followers.
I don’t know how many of these shows existed, but I am on a quest to find them all. Many videos only consist of one song, but some shows have several clips of different songs and dances. Typically, the videos on are grainy, somewhat blurry and the sound quality is not always great, but the mere existence of them is important. It’s like being rocketed back through time.
The song that led me to the fascination I suddenly have is “Nobody But Me” by the Human Beinz which was released in 1968 and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. I think I may have heard it on a recent television commercial. I found the old dance show from a channel in Steubenville, Ohio which aired from 1955 until the late sixties on WSTV Channel 9 named “Teen Time.” Here is the link from YouTube that I found while searching for this particular song:
This show begins with the following introduction:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, for the next hour, you are In with Teen Time! From the Satellite Discotheque, high atop Altamont Hill, it’s Teen Time! And here’s Mr. Teen Scene…Del Curtis!”
In my research, I found through a blog called “Old Mon Music” by Ron Ieraci entitled “Pittsburgh TV Dance Parties” a reference to this show. You can see this blog entry at http://oldmonmusic.blogspot.com/2012/11/pittsburgh-tv-dance-parties.html
WOI-TV, channel 5, located in Ames, Iowa aired a dance show named “Seventeen” in the late 1950s. There are several videos available on YouTube from this show. I have listed a couple of them here. The first is “Maybe” by the Chantels released in 1958. This video can be found at
The second is “The Stroll” by The Diamonds also released in 1958. This video can be found at . What I found interesting about this video is that it shows a line type dance which was later made very famous by “Soul Train.” For a comparison of this similarity, here is “Love Train” by the O’Jays released in 1972 from Soul Train:
A story of this type would not be complete without mentioning the once local show, American Bandstand, which was broadcast on WFIL-TV, channel 6 from Philadelphia. American Bandstand was hosted by the Dick Clark beginning in 1956. The show became a huge success and was broadcast locally five days a week. American Bandstand became a national taped broadcast in 1963. For more information on this iconic dance show see: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/american-bandstand-goes-national.
The song “South Street” released in 1963 by the Orlons was about a popular location in Philadelphia. A video of this song can be found at:
The regional dance shows on television truly are a musical journey through history and time periods. I have given some brief glimpses of a few of the dance shows that were very common on American televisions during a part of time that I hope always remain in our music history. There are many, many other shows of this genre that existed. Happily I have discovered several more as I have been doing the research for this article. My fascination continues.