Over the holidays, Susanne and I spent some time with my family in Rehoboth Beach, DE. While we were there, I flipped through the coffee table book of Rehoboth Beach with fantastic pictures of the town through the years. I saw a few photos in there that talked about dancing in the town. Apparently, they used to have a dance pavilion that extended out from the boardwalk to the sea. I can’t imagine how wonderful it would be to dance there on a summer night with a cool breeze blowing in from the ocean.
I mentioned the photos to a friend of my grandmother who happens to run the local library. She said that in the 1950’s, the city of Rehoboth paved in the area of the board walk at the end of the main drag (Rehoboth Ave) so that people could dance by the band stand. I remembered the old band stand from my family visits years ago. Recently, it was torn down to put up a new, fancy pavilion where they continue to host concerts over the summer. And now, they are tearing out the concrete. . .no more dancing, or rather, no more vestiges of times past when partner dancing was a shared cultural activity in communities large and small.
I often get caught up in the historical stories our community tells; Frankie and Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, the Savoy Ballroom, the Harvest Moon Ball. In the process, I sometimes lose sight of the everyday history. There are stories we don’t tell, that we don’t even know, and that we are losing to time. They disappear like our once treasured ballrooms. I’m hoping to take some time this summer to sift through the archives in Rehoboth, looking for photos, announcements for dances, or other public records to let me in to the history of this little resort town. I love this dance, and want to be a steward of its history, not just its legacy.