Yes, I know, Wham! came out with Make It Big in 1984. But when I was in England in 1986, Wham! was still enjoying its success with Careless Whisper. I was coming of age. I was 16 going on 17 and other than a horrible spin the bottle incident at summer camp, I had never really been kissed. Thank you George Michael. This is for you!
It was the summer and I was staying with a homestay family while I learned about small town living in south England, in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, England specifically. I came for three weeks and immediately befriended a British teen (maybe older, can’t remember at all, but she had a car and drove us everywhere). J. took me to places I had only dreamt about, places that I never went, night clubs. Night clubs with thumping 80’s music from the speakers and tall Englishmen with gorgeous accents. We were in the south of England and it was magnificent. My homestay mum told me gin and tonics were the way to go for selecting a beverage of choice when I went out to the clubs. She tended bar; I naturally figured she was an expert in these matters. How would she ever guess that would be my drink for the next 20 years?! But I digress….
So one night in Winchester, J. drove to a club and confidently just walked in with me. As I am new to this whole “having friends, drinking alcohol, and talking to cute blokes” thing, I hid in the corner till I had successfully downed two gin and tonics, as advised. J. told me I was going to have to learn how to do this club thing if she was going to keep taking me out (this was pretty new in the summer weeks I was in Chandler’s Ford). I took a deep breath, a final swig that burned going down, and took a look around. I am pretty sure I was the only American there that night. One particular bloke walked up and asked me to dance. I was so frightened and absolutely paralyzed. But then, I heard something familiar: Careless Whisper by Wham!. Yes! I can do this! I’ve got this. I can merge paralysis and nerves and familiarity and survive this dance. Somehow, I made it through the song and honestly? I only have George Michael to thank. His gentle voice, his melody for the song (I don’t know music terms, I could have this all wrong), and the seductive way it spoke to me got me through a first dance with a British bloke who was completely adorable. He could have been royalty and it wouldn’t have mattered. My experience with dancing with guys and the attention given me was virgin territory for this barely been kissed girl who nothing really mattered and I only cared that Wham! was blaring from the speakers ONLY FOR ME. “Tonight the music seems so loud, I wish we could lose this crowd” was all I was hearing. Much later after I had time to digest a bit more of the 80’s, I would realize this was such a sad song. For now, I was seeking undue comfort in this and I had only this to get me through the most nerve-wracking first real dance. Needless to say, this was a practice dance; I didn’t talk much to him after, but he definitely gave me the opportunity to become slightly unstuck.
I don’t remember what that bloke’s name was or even really what he looked like, but I will NEVER forgot that dance and I certainly can’t forget Wham! Never. Ever. And I can’t even remember if he kissed me.
If any song, much less a Wham! song did this to you, gave you courage and familiarity in an unfamiliar situation, please leave a comment. I’m not the only one?!
Song pairing: Need I say more?