We huddled together like a group of over-anxious teenage boys, which is exactly what we were, and waited for that one song.
We knew it would be the last song of the night. All night long we each kept close track of her – the one girl who made our hearts race.
If we each played our cards right, and paid careful attention to the opening strums of the song we could swoop in and get the dance.
We hadn’t danced to one song all night. A silent protest against the ballroom dance lessons. We waited till the very end for our big moment. With our heads down, staring a hole in the dance floor, we stayed near. We each had a crush on a different girl. We wished each other luck.
The dance rocked into the late night, our time was soon, we were all strategically spread out, getting as close to our intended dance mate without seeming to obvious to our intent.
The acoustic guitar introduction began. Like a hawk circling the skies above, we all soared in, and soon were on the dance floor, holding our dance partners tight to the slow rhythms of the song.
“There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, Ooh, and she’s buying the stairway to heaven.”
The song lasted eight minutes, long for a song, but not long enough for us. We were all in our own “heaven” as we slowly stepped, moving in a tight little circle, arms wrapped around each other.
A quick glance around the dance floor to make sure we had all reached our mark.
We held tight never wanting to let go. Until…
Until that part in the song when our “slow dance” song turns into a high tempo hard rock song. We had to think quickly. One of three things was going to happen:
1. If you were one of the lucky ones you remained slow dancing despite the increased tempo of the song. This was the preferred choice, and it meant your dancer partner wanted to remain close to you, as well.
2. Like everyone else, you broke apart and began to “fast dance” to the song. This was not preferred, fast dancing scared the crap out of us, and no one wanted to look like a fool, but at least you were still dancing with your dream girl, which in itself might mean something.
3. The unthinkable happens. The confusion concerning the proper way to dance to the tempo change sends your partner walking off the dance floor with you following behind like a scolded little puppy. Half the dance floor would always clear out after the tempo up-tick, meaning half of us hawks had transformed into sparrows, or some other sort of chi-chi bird.
It’s hard to believe that 40 years ago this month Led Zeppelin released its fourth album. The album had no title on the cover and was always referred to as IV.
The song Stairway to Heaven went on to become the most played song on FM radio in the ’70’s.
Total sales for the album have reached 32 million, 23 million in the US alone, making it the third best-selling album (behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the Eagles Greatest Hits) of all time.
And for 32 million teenagers Stairway to Heaven was the most anticipated song of the dance.
Can you remember your high school dances? Was there that one song that sent you searching the crowd for a dance partner? Did the song Stairway to Heaven give you fits on the dance floor, or was there another song that made you look clueless on the dance floor ? Or were you the Staying Alive era John Travolta of your class?