SLICE OF LIFE

SLICE OF LIFE: Watermelon crawling through life

2012-09-30T00:00:00Z SLICE OF LIFE: Watermelon crawling through lifeBy Vanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

A couple weeks ago, I stood on the edge of the dance floor at the Blue Dress Barn in Benton Harbor, watching the bridal party dance around the newly wedded Brian and Bethany, to the live music of Kris Hitchcock and Small Town Son.

The song faded and the next one started.

"I was drivin' through Georgia in late July/On a day hot enough to make the devil sigh," the Tracy Byrd hit "Watermelon Crawl" began. 

Just like that, I was back in the mid-'90s. I was a teen. I was new to country music. And, I was new to line dancing.

I'd heard about this place in Lowell with jungle cats, rodeos and line dancing. The "country" kids at Lake Central were regulars at DC's Country Junction, and they made it sound like a magical place: a petting zoo and line dance bar in one, where you didn't have to be 21 to get in. 

I was going through a gangsta rap phase at the time, but it's tough to resist the idea of a weekly hoe down.

My friends and I piled in a car or two, headed south on U.S. 41 and turned left somewhere, following winding roads and hills so far that we were convinced we were lost.

Just when we were about to turn around, we rounded a corner and saw a huge building with a dusty gravel parking lot. There it was: DC's Country Junction.

It was everything those country kids said it would be.

The action centered around a dance floor at the base of a stage with a country music band. There were cowboy hats, plaid shirts and cowboy boots. And denim. Lots of denim.

People sat on blocks of straw. The bathroom stalls looked like horse stalls (well, what I thought horse stalls might look like). I remember seeing bears and tigers outside and small, pet-able animals inside.

I saw a rodeo there. A rider was thrown to the ground and caught underfoot. "Aww, he just got stepped on is all," the guy behind me said as I shrieked.

But, what I remember most is the line dancing. Even if you didn't know the dance, you could join in and catch on after a few repetitions.

One I could never quite figure out was the Watermelon Crawl. I think it's because we had some over-achievers on the dance floor, throwing in unsanctioned spins, turns and exaggerated diagonal steps.

DC's became a regular hang-out spot on our short list of places teens could go in the Region. I haven't been there in seven or eight years, but judging by the pictures on its website, it hasn't changed much.

Maybe it's worth going back to finally learn the Watermelon Crawl.

Vanessa Renderman covers health care for The Times. You can reach her at vanessa.renderman@nwi.com.

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