I had been playing guitar for a few years, a fact which was known around my high school during my junior year. I was mildly famous at school having impersonated Ross Perot during a mock presidential debate which aired on the school’s morning video announcements, and my Wayne’s World Garth costume for Halloween was a hit as well. But it was my lead performance in Death of a Salesman that brought me to the attention of our schools drama and chorus teacher, who approached me about putting together an ensemble of guitar players to accompany the chorus during a presentation of carols during the schools winter dance, called the Holly Ball.
“After we’re done with our performances, you and the others will have a chance to do a few songs of your own,” she told me, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. Word soon got round to all my friends and we soon had more than enough players. The plan was to have several of us accompany the chorus with our acoustic guitars, then plug in and rock out for a few heavier songs. I remember there was a bit of fighting over what those songs would be, as several people, myself included, wanted to be the front man for their fave songs. In the end, I believe we settled on Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Sprit, sung by a friend of mine, and also Today by Smashing Pumpkins, which was a fave of several others on the team. We chose Fire, by Jimi Hendrix, cause it was a classic that allowed several of us to show off our playing ability.
So we had several rehearsals the week or two before the show to work out the set, then we had the show. It was in the school’s cafeteria, with a small stage setup near the entrance; half of the tables had been cleared for a small dance floor. I don’t recall it being a big dance, but there were a few dozen people there in addition to my band mates and members of the chorus. I don’t remember much about that night, but I imagine that I was mostly focused getting through the choral numbers so that my boys and I could get to it.
Now I’ve never had the best stage presence when playing guitar, I tend to close my eyes, whether it’s from nervousness or concentration, but one memory that has stuck with me since that night was looking up during the guitar solo in Fire and seeing the crowd dancing. It was a brief moment of pure joy, seeing classmates losing themselves and tearing up the dancefloor while I busted out the music. Looking back at everything I did, music-wise, I think that was probably one of the greatest moments I ever had. And while it may sound sad to admit, I think it’s probably just a factor of nostalgia, childhood, and the familiarity I had with everyone involved.
I just happened to think about this memory when I was meditating earlier today, and time-traveled to that moment up on stage. I couldn’t help smiling.