Kathy Maresca, author

Porch Music excerpt: Junior’s Dance Hall

Junior's Dance Hall

We meet Janie in this passage of Porch Music. The twelve-year-old stands outside a dance hall in Middleburg, Florida, on a hot summer evening in 1952.

“Weave the ring…” Tucker yells out his next call. The dancers pick up the pace a little, and a bunch of old ladies sitting together in folding chairs and facing the floor, fan themselves. Old men stand in the corner, cigarette smoke puffing from their thin, wrinkly lips. Bare yellow light bulbs hang from ceiling cords. Whew, Junior’s is one ugly joint. Maybe when grown-ups are having fun, they don’t care about how things look.

With his guitar propped up against the colonial blue clapboard wall, Daddy sits with us on the porch of the dance hall. He watches while Kenny and Benny, who’ve been out of diapers near about a year, tussle from one spot to another. Every now and then Daddy gives me a wink and warns me about drinking too much bellywash. That’s what he calls Coca-cola. I tip my head far back, drink the last drop of the cold, sassy liquid, and set the bottle on the floor.