With the smell of prom still lingering in the air, I got to thinking about my own high-school dance experiences. Truth be told, my prom sucked but I had a couple deece homecomings. However, unlike most of my gal pals who relished the whole pre-dance tradition of shopping for a dress, getting your hair did, drinking alcohol-free Zima in a Hampton Inn hotel room, I wasn’t interested in anything other than the night’s soundtrack.
If your high school was anything like mine, then you probably had the same DJ at every dance, and he insisted on only playing songs from the Billboard Top 40 — and that was totally fine with me because, at the time, I lived and breathed pop music. (I can’t tell you how many hours I spent glued to my dual cassette boom box, recording songs off the radio to make my monthly mixes. Ah, the good ol’ days.)
In 1994, I was 15, and I remember being completely excited — and petrified — when the DJ would roll out a slow song. Would my crush ask me to dance? Would he put his arms on my neck or around my waist? Would he try to touch my butt? These were BIG questions in the life of a high-school sophomore, and the answers would eventually unfold while some of the sappiest (and age-inappropriate) ballads played in the background. (Yes. Waist. Sort of.)
1.) R. Kelly’s “Bump N’ Grind (Remix)”: I didn’t care too much for R. Kelly’s album version of this song, but the remix was my slow-song jam. My friends and I wouldn’t so much dance to this song as we’d find a male partner, lean on them and sway around for three and a half minutes. (Very romantic, don’t you think?) At the time, I’m sure I thought R. Kelly was sweetly singing about wanting to take a trip to over-the-clothes Dry Humpville; taking a look at the lyrics 15 years later, I’m not so sure. Example: “So show me some ID before I get knee-deep into you.” Not only is that the most uncomfortable sentiment ever, but if it wasn’t a prediction of the R&B crooner’s future legal trouble with underage girls, I don’t know what was.
2.) Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You”: Again, another song that was completely inappropriate to play at a high-school soiree but one that always brought hormone-fueled bodies to dance floor. (Sidenote: Boyz II Men was the third concert I ever saw and when they played this song, the Boyz… er, Men would traipse around the stage in their oversize suits and hand out red roses to the girls in the audience. Swoon.) These days, the only time I hear this song is when I’m in the grocery store. I’m not sure why, but the opening chords still give me butterflies. Maybe it’s because I think Dan Netzer is going to creep out from around the cereal aisle and FINALLY ask me to dance. A girl can dream, can’t she?
3.) All-4-One’s “I Swear”: All-4-One might’ve been one of the fugliest groups I’ve ever seen, but they sure knew how to sing a corny love song. Sure, it wasn’t an original — country artist John Michael Montgomery first made the ballad a hit only a couple months earlier — but it was new to anyone who didn’t watch CMT on a regular basis, which was everyone I knew except my friend Cristen, who had recently discovered Garth Brooks and insisted on playing “Calling Baton Rouge” on repeat every morning on the drive to school.
4.) Jodeci’s “Feenin”: Nothing gets the blood pumping like hearing JoJo and K-Ci’s falsetto wails bounce off the moist walls of a packed gymnasium. According to Urban Dictionary, “feenin” is defined as “craving for intensely, mostly for a person” and, hell, isn’t that what high school’s all about? Feenin, stalking. Tomato, tomahto. Oh, Jodeci. You could always express what my teenage heart could not.