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By Staff | Apr 10, 2015

I don’t like to brag, but my wife and I are badass.

No, I’m not talking about the kind of badass that can be seen on the TV show “Vikings.” While I do have Norse ancestry, there’s no evidence that our particular twig of the family tree included any swashbucklers.

I’m thinking our lineage contained the type of guys who said, “I think I’ll watch from here in the back and see what happens.”

Our newly acquired badass status involves music. The only danger that might arise from it is the risk that a guy might have to dance.

Some while ago we were yakking with friends when the topic turned to music. We recalled how, when we were younger, there were a variety of local venues where folks could enjoy live bands.

Adult beverages were available for those (such as me) who lacked the confidence to ask a member of the opposite sex to dance. The beverages also helped those (such as me) who had no rhythm.

Danceable live music is no longer available in our area. Somebody said that someone should do something about it, a sentiment that’s usually the death knell of a good idea.

But this time was different. Two of our company – let’s call them Cindy and Lee – took the metaphorical Viking helmet by the horns and concocted a plan.

Their proposal was simple. They would rent the local American Legion hall and hire a local band to play.

The event would be potluck and those who wanted to bring an adult beverage would be free to do so. A hat would be passed during the evening to pay for the band.

And if a person was so moved, he or she could hit the dance floor and groove to the music.

Cindy and Lee decided to name this concept exactly what it is: Brookings Area Dance And Social Society.

The notion of a casual, music-centric get-together seemed enchanting. It reminded me of how Dad had said that back when he was young, there would be casual neighborhood gatherings called house parties.

On a chosen evening, neighbors would assemble at a particular farmhouse. The furniture would be carried out of its living room. Someone might bring a fiddle and somebody else might bring an accordion or a harmonica. Ideally, they would also know how to play said instruments.

I could imagine a country farmhouse swaying under the stars as music thrummed and farmers and their wives kicked up their clodhoppers. Out on the lawn, a bottle of adult beverage was passed around; smooches were stolen in the shadow of the corncrib.

The organizers of BADASS asked a local group called Highway Call Band to furnish the music. HCB is a quartet of local guys – three guitarists and a drummer – who enjoy making music. By happy coincidence, they are also extremely good at it.

Highway Call’s leader, Jim Juntunen, is roughly our age. As such, the tunes they play are the kind that we Baby Boomers enjoyed during our teen years. Music that held deep, philosophical meaning for us, such as the message conveyed in the song “Long Cool Woman.”

Nobody actually understood that song’s lyrics, but this did nothing to decrease its impact on us.

Plus Jim has reached the point where he no longer has to prove anything. He doesn’t feel the need to play at a volume that causes the fillings in your teeth to explode.

Our spring BADASS gathering happened last week. When my wife and I arrived, the Legion was already thumping with oldies rock tunes, by which I mean “not that weird modern crap that sounds as if someone is strangling a cat.”

A potluck table was set up at the back of the room. I had to try a little of everything, so I stood at the rear and noshed while the music throbbed and people – some of whom I know for a fact have artificial joints – grooved to the tunes.

I attended my first dance in junior high school and it occurred to me that little had changed. I was still hanging around in the back, listening to the music and observing things from a distance.

But there is one huge difference: I can now ask a girl to dance without turning into a sweating, stammering, hormone-addled nincompoop.

The band launched into a killer version of “Black Magic Woman.” I was so moved by it that I marched right up to particular young lady and asked her to dance.

As we swayed to the hypnotic strumming, my wife asked, “What do you think?”

I replied, “We are so badass.”

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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