Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Dancing Fool??? I Think Not!

I must start today's post with an apology and an explanation. As my followers can attest, I haven't blogged nearly as much as I should have or wanted to lately. My reasons/excuses are pretty much the same as before....they were lame then, and they're lame now. Work is incredibly busy and stressful (as it usually is) and my graduate class is very demanding and stressful (as it always is too.) There was a short period during my absence that I felt sort of out of it and didn't have any incredibly witty or random topics to discuss. So I asked for your help. Several people responded and so I once again am getting back on the blogging horse for a ride.

One my suggested topics was thoughts on my time as a "Conchette." For those of you who don't know what this is, I must first tell you that it's pronounced "Konk-ette" as opposed to the "ch" sound at the end of conch. The Conchettes are a dancing drill team at Key West High School. So here's a little history to get you caught up. Before you laugh, please keep in mind that our high school mascot was the conch, but that's another post for another day.

Back in the 1940's a precision dance drill team was formed at Kilgore College in Texas. Their choreographer, Denard Hayden, came to Key West (I believe on vacation) and created a similar dance drill team at Key West High School. This group, called the Conchettes, have been a long tradition of pride for over 50 years in Key West. Each summer, the Conchettes have a summer training camp, called Hayden Week, and for many years, Denard Hayden would come down to Key West and teach the team all of their routines for the upcoming football season. Dancing at half-time at football games is the Conchette's major performances during the school year. They also march and perform at parades, festivals, and have a spring show called Conchette Capers. For many years being a part of this drill team was an honor and privilege for me. My understanding is that in the last 10 or so years, the team has dropped in numbers from the 50+ while I was a member to under 10 now. My hope is that they will once again find popularity and pride and their numbers will increase.

I tried out two times, and was crushed when I didn't make it as an entering freshman. My father was a teacher at the high school at the time, so you gotta hand it to them for not playing favorites. I was so sure that I'd make the squad. I've taken dance lessons most of my life and consider myself an accomplished dancer. The fact that I didn't make it made me more determined than ever to make it the next year. I stretched and practiced everyday. I'm happy to report that I made the squad. Just making the squad didn't mean that the stress was over. Before each football game, all Conchettes had to audition to perform. Not everyone made it. That would include me. My first year was bumpy.....I didn't dance all of those games but it did make my resolve more determined. My second year on the squad I performed each game. At the end of the year, I was awarded Most Improved and still have the trophy. It was a proud moment for me. The next year I was chosen as an officer. Those were proud times for me. Lots of people laugh about the Conchettes...either because of the name or the idea of it all, but I have to say that my most meaningful moments in high school were spent performing for others. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. Plus, I looked great then so that's an added bonus.

This is me during my senior year in my uniform.
I looked so cute!


Crystal said...

Very interesting and informative post! Glad you're back. I hope you can get some rest and relax a little this weekend, it sounds like you've been really busy. I'm gonna call you later. I have something for you that I think you will REALLY like. Talk to you soon.

Anonymous said...

Was Phyllis Tynes the director when you danced?

Tracy said...

I just have one question. When a most sacred dingleberry hat was too worn out for regular duty, was it burried or burned? There's no way it could be discarded without dignity.

Carrie said...

awww!! you were so cute!! well, you are still cute!! I want to see you dance!!

LT (and Max) said...

LOVE THE PIC! allow me to predict that raelyn will look JUST LIKE THAT in about 10 years. :)

Pam Hobbs said...

Moving to Key West 30 plus years ago I was so enamored of those hats with the balls on them and wanted to be able to wear one. I always became alert when the conchettes passed in the parade even though it didn't seem they did anything, but they had the hats. I am so glad you were one of those girls with the hats and even though it appears the prestige of the conchettes has dimmed I believe someday the hats will rule and it will be cool to wear white boots and red hats with little balls on them. You rule Tassie. Pam Hobbs

Jeanie (Sheddan) Downing said...

I love the history and the pride that came through in this blog! I was proud too and can still remember some of the moves that I learned in Hayden week. (The dance steps to "She works hard for the money" and "owner of a lonely heart"). LOL! Thanks for sharing. Oh, I heard that when the old gym was torn down they just threw away the stuff in that magical place called the costume closet. Do you remember that? And, the old names in the hats? And giving flowers to your group on game night? Oh, memories. THANK YOU FOR SHARING.
~ Jeanie

Vicki said...

Ah. My little sister.
I was a Chargette at Callaway High School. About 9 people a year were added to the team. I had the honor of entering as a freshman only to be told later I had to lose weight to perform. I, too, have felt that sting. I wasn't fat them (just now). I was, however, very muscular-legged from cheerleading. Hmmmmm.
I was an office my Senior year.
HAD to be able to kick over your head, very precise routines - contagions, yadda, yadda. Had an outfit QUITE like the one you are sporting: no balls on hat, hair had to be worn in a pony tail to side of the head...all same length for each girl. Some girls wore "falls" who had short hair. I had to double my hair up and under the hat to get it to the right lenght w/out cutting. Boot...only white knee boots.
Tried out every Thursday before Friday game.
SO...I can relate my dear kin.
Who'd a thought?
You are the QUEEN guru of drill teams.