TEWKSBURY -- Thinking of starting off 2017 like you're in the 1950s?
The '50s were a time when tunes were played on vinyl records or boomed through the well-used jukebox. A time when clothes was modest, but playful. A time when music made you want to get on your feet and show off your best moves. When women twirled their skirts and men slicked back their hair.
On Friday, Jan. 20, in Tewksbury, you'll be able to do just that.
Jerry Selissen, a member of the Tewksbury Lions Club, came up with the idea to host a Sock Hop fundraising event in conjunction with the town's Rotary Club. Featured at the event will be Reminisce, an eight-member oldies group that performs songs from the '50s and early '60s.
"My wife and I have seen this group perform, like, two or three times, and they really do an outstanding job and they're extremely enthusiastic," Selissen said. "This is an opportunity to come out and enjoy a fun evening and also an opportunity to help out some local charities as well."
Selissen said it's the perfect opportunity to entertain the baby-boomer generation, which is coming of age, but he hopes younger people will show up for the fun, too.
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The Sock Hop
Popularized in the 1940s and '50s, sock hops were, essentially, dance sessions. According to Wikipedia, the American Junior Red Cross would participate in sock hops to raise money for World War II, but it later became a fun trend among high-schoolers.
Often, teenagers would participate in sock hops at their school's cafeteria or gymnasium. Dancers would take off their hard-soled shoes so they would not damage the floors, hence the name "sock hop." In later years, that practice became less common as the teenagers began to wear different shoes. But as with many things, the name stuck.
Jerry Selissen, a member of the Tewksbury Lions Club, which is hosting a sock hop said he's part of the "twist era." However, other popular dances included the jitterbug and the stroll.
The informal nature of a sock hop, combined with all the songs of the time people knew and loved, made for plenty of memorable nights.
For Frankie Gargiulo, music allows him to be transported to that playful, happy-go-lucky time of his youth. Gargiulo has been a member of the New England-based vocal group Reminisce for 25 years. They perform oldies and classics at many events and will be the main entertainment at the upcoming Sock Hop fundraising event at the Tewksbury Country Club.
"We grew up with this kind of music, and we were all teenagers at the time," Gargiulo said. "It's a happy music. To do this music now, at our age, it brings back all those memories of good times."
The other seven group members are Jack Mento, Jo-Ann Dumas, Ron Laurito, Ronnie Iacobucci, Barry Kessler, Al Lancelotti and Phil Mullen.
Maybe some of the most popular songs performed by Reminisce will ring a bell or put you in a pleasantly nostalgic mood.
* "Mr. Lee"
* "16 Candles"
* "Come Go With Me"
* "At The Hop"
* "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?"
* "Please Mr. Postman"
* "Have You Heard"
* "Pennies From Heaven"
* "Get A Job"
* "Runaround Sue"
So what exactly do you wear to a sock hop? If you're not from the sock-hop era, you've probably seen movies showcasing some of the playful outfits donned to go out dancing.
For the young ladies, it was the black-and-white saddle Oxford shoes (you don't have to go in stockinged feet), white ankle socks, swing skirts and delicate neck scarfs for the ladies. The gentlemen were likely to sport T-shirts or button-up shirts, jeans and maybe an Elvis-inspired hairdo.
"We've got some people that are so into the music and the style that they'll come with poodle skirts and saddle shoes," says Frankie Gargiulo of the band Reminisce. "We encourage that, too, because it's a fun experience for everybody."
Today, you might find this style of clothing at a thrift shop or a costume store -- maybe even the back of your parents' closet if you look long enough. But in this day and age, you can find almost anything online.
Selissen said attendees are encouraged to dress in the time of the era for the event. The most fashion-forward duo will be named the king and queen of the night and be presented with a prize.
The Sock Hop fundraising event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Tewksbury Country Club on Friday, Jan. 20. Attendees can bring their own dry snacks, except popcorn.
Admission is $20 per person. To purchase tickets, contact Jerry Selissen at 978-500-1662 or MKSJES@verizon.net.