The world, full of music fans everywhere, is mourning the death of Michael Jackson — so, I don’t know why Sheepshead Bites should be exempt.
He had his faults and foibles, but his songs touched our hearts in special ways and in an individual way. It’s for this reason that this post is dedicated to Michael Jackson, in honor of the way he touched the heart of Sheepshead Bay.
When he was still alive, his music and artistic achievements permeated our lives, in every corner of the world. In his death, his music will stay in our hearts.
Yes, I am one of those people whose life was touched immensely by Michael Jackson’s music and work. He was part of my era, especially for those of us growing up in an exciting pop culture, urban environment.
Before us city folk by the bay got our exercise by working out in gyms, like Bally’s on Sheepshead Bay Road, we stayed active while getting our urban beat on at the Roll-a-Palace in the same spot. People came from far and wide to roll around on 4-wheeled skates to the hits of the day, which turned from disco to pop — and to Michael Jackson’s own unique style. His sound made its own genre.
Dance schools in Sheepshead Bay in the 1980’s — the name Horizons pops up — used his music and dance moves to train their students. Even I, who didn’t have the opportunity afforded to many of my neighbors to attend a local private dance school, did get the chance to dance at public school.
At Shellbank Junior High School (a.k.a., I.S. 14), we danced our hearts away to Michael Jackson’s beats in dance class. His music gave us all a chance to have fun and to express ourselves in movement that we could relate to. He made dance an accessible ‘sport’ for average people, far and wide.
I remember that our dance teacher, Ms. Slonim, choreographed us shiny-silver-foil-grass-skirted middle school girls to a memorable performance of “Off The Wall”. Although, it was a little nerve wracking for many of us non-dancers, we danced confidently knowing that we had the cutting edge Michael Jackson as our inspiration.
Something tells me that even our pre-teen male counterparts who were in the habit of saying that dancing was “for girls” were watching us onstage and saying to themselves, “I wish I could dance like Michael Jackson” and “Why couldn’t I join dance class with the girls?”
For years, every single party was heavily dependent on his music. Back when the “D” in DJ stood for vinyl disk, a party was not a party unless there was at least 30 minutes of Michael Jackson hits played. Plus, the dancing wasn’t dancing unless some bold kid could prove to us that he had truly mastered the Michael Jackson spin and/or ultra-fascinating moonwalk.
Everyone has their favorite Michael Jackson song and even more people just can never choose more than 10 favorites. I could go on with the long list of songs that I remember listening to endlessly on the radio stations, but I’m sure you know them all.
I tend to fall into both categories. But in today’s post — where I look back on the impact that Michael Jackson made on me and the people I was growing up during the 70’s and 80’s — I will say that I do remember one song especially poignantly.
My all-time favorite Jackson song and the one that nearly captures the sense of sadness and remembrance that overwhelms me when I think of his untimely death is: You Will Always Be The Lady In My Life.
That particular song always made me feel as special as the little charm pendant that labeled me as “Someone Special”. Back in the 80’s, it seemed that every teenager alive had some interesting combination of words hanging from a gold chain around their neck.
How many of you have been affected by Michael Jackson’s artistry and understand how I feel about the world he opened up to us? Please write in and share with us about ‘the way he made you feel’.
(Video courtesy of YouTube)