When I was a teenager, the poster below (or one very like it) hung on the back of my bedroom door.
It wasn’t because I had a huge crush on Kevin Bacon, although I did think he was cute. What I loved was the movie–Footloose.
As I checked my phone before bed last night, I learned that Kevin Bacon, who remains incredibly cool 30 years later and has aged better than most of us, appeared on the Tonight Show and was not too stuck up to engage in a little self-parodying here.
This was serendipitous because at the very moment he was doing this, I was watching Footloose with my big kids (well, two of them) who HAD NEVER SEEN IT. John picked it up for me the last time he was at the video store, knowing how much I love it, and I’d been waiting for a good opportunity to share it with them. This weekend, with John and the little people off on a quick visit to Baltimore, was the perfect time.
I was a little worried that they wouldn’t like it, that it wouldn’t stand the test of time or “translate” well across the 30 years that have passed since I saw first saw it. I even wondered it I would still like it. (Yes, I did, for the record. Just as much, with maybe even a little more depth as I now have a lot more understanding of Pastor Shaw’s point of view!) Why should I care so much? you ask.
I can’t even think of a way to describe the way I feel about this movie and the night I first saw it without resorting to the worst kind of cliches. I was 17 in February 1984, just like Ren in the movie. Like many teenagers then and now, my life was completely wrapped up in my group of friends. I could not imagine a future in which I did not see or talk to them every day and I dreaded the thought of going away to college and leaving them. We saw the movie at what was then the Cinema 6. These days it’s an artsy place showing lots of foreign films, but back then it was our favorite theatre, perhaps because of its close proximity to the Downtown West location of Mr. Gatti’s (gone now), which for some reason was our high school’s acknowledged hangout even though the school itself was on the other side of town.
We were having a slumber party at one friend’s house and it was the birthday of another friend, and I don’t remember how we came to the decision to go to the movie, if it was spontaneous or part of the plan from the beginning. But perhaps it’s worth noting that I remember anything about it at all. I mean, I know some of the other movies I saw in high school, but no other evening at the movies maintains this much space in my memory, or evokes so much feeling. I clearly remember watching the opening sequence–all those feet–and feeling excited about what was to come. But what I remember even more is coming out of the theatre after the movie.
There were, if I remember right, six of us there that night, five girls and one boy. I can remember coming out of the movie almost dancing–maybe actually dancing, there on the sidewalk to the south of the theatre. I don’t remember what we talked about, other than how much we liked the movie. Probably we were discussing what we were going next, which might have been back to the slumber party, or maybe to Gatti’s for pizza–that part I don’t remember.
What I do remember so clearly though is how I felt. Maybe it wasn’t the movie itself. Maybe it was just the joy of being young and with close friends, out alone at night under our own steam, having friends who were driving and a couple who even had their own cars. But for me the way I felt that night is inextricably linked to the movie and always will be. I felt . . . empowered. Like I could do anything. Like life was good and all of it was ahead of me (that part at least was true).