American Bandstand Dancerstory
The story of my life|
(as an American Bandstand regular)
by Mike Balara
Mike displays a few of his American Bandstand fan letters.
Going to American Bandstand!
I guess every kid in America harbors the dream of going to American Bandstand to dance one day. I was no different from the rest of you, except that my dream really did come true.
After years of watching and waiting, I finally got there.
It took the encouragement of my older sister, Delores, to do the trick. But once I made my decision, I stuck to it - and soon found myself in line in front of that famous American Bandstand studio at 46th and Market Streets in Philadelphia.
It took me 5 days to get up the nerve to ask someone to dance with me. That "someone" was an adorable girl named Barbara Levick, and to my great surprise she accepted without a moment's hesitation.
"Say, you're good," Barbara told me after we did one fast dance together.
We stood there chatting and introducing ourselves, and when the next record started, she said, "Oh, it's another fast one. Let's go."
When that dance was done, Barb and I continued our conversation. "Where do you live Mike?" she asked me. "And what school do you go to?"
I told her I lived in Runnemede, New Jersey, and that I'd probably be going back to Triton High in the fall. Then I won't be able to come here anymore," I added. "There just isn't enough time."
"That's too bad" Barb said. "Well I better intoduce you to some of the kids, so you can start having some fun."
Barbara took me over and intoduced me to Walt Gryzelak and Pat Molittieri. I was almost in a state of shock by now. Here I was, Mike Balara, who had watched Dick Clark's American Bandstand for years - actually meeting and talking with the kids I had admired for so long! That was on of the most glorious days of my life.
When I returned to American Bandstand the following Monday, I was not nearly so frightened or shy as I had been before. I even had the nerve to walk over and ask my idol, Pat Molittieri, to dance.
Pat smiled warmly and said yes. It was a moment I had often dreamed of, but felt would never really come to pass. Pat was a great dancer. Before long, she became one of my favorite dance partners.
I had a fine and swinging summer with my new pals, and by fall I had become frienly with Arlene Sullivan, Justine and many others. I just can't tell you what great kids these American Bandstanders are. I only wish each and everyone of you could have shared all my delightful experiences with me.
Well fall came and I started back to school. I was depressed by the fact that I could no longer spend my afternoons dancing, but I loved my school and studies - and could spend part of the afternoon watching the American Bandstand show from home - so it wasn't too bad.
Then when May rolled around it found yours truly back at Dick Clark's American Bandstand, WFIL-TV studios. The kids greeted me with open arms and I began to make new friends. These included Frani Giordano, Carolyn Scaldeferri, Betty Romantini, and the Jimenez sisters. Soon, these girls were my regular afternoon dancing partners. "Hey Mike," Betty said to me one day, "Why don't we enter the Fast Dance Contest? You know, just for laughs."
We did enter the fast dance contest, and it was for laughs. But we really loved every minute of it and felt extremely proud that we were among the finalists. Betty Romantini, incidentally is not only a truly witty and amusing girl, but she is also a good and sincere friend.
I have found that the American Bandstand-ers are all in all the nicest group of kids that I have ever gone around with.
They are happy and carefree, but they are also kind and considerate. They have helped me make my teen years sparkle with delight.
The American Bandstand show 1957-1965
American Bandstand was broadcasted nationally on August 5, 1957 with Dick Clark as the host. ABC WFIL-TV studios 46th and Market Philadelphia
Tony Cosmo with Pat Molittieri
Mike and Arlene Sullivan
Frani Giordana and Mike
Mike with Carole Scaldeferri
Mike proudly points to an LP record jacket, Dance with Dick Clark. It's a pet possession.
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