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Ardsley Administrator Reminisces About Dancing on American Bandstand

What do you remember about the show? Did you ever appear as a guest dancer?

Although the musical genres, clothing, dancing styles and just about everything cultural changed throughout the years American Bandstand aired on TV, Ardsley District Clerk Barbara Koppel said Dick Clark was the one constant.

"We used to run home from school everyday to watch that show," she said. "My friends and I used to dance along with the music the whole time. We just loved it."

Then, when she was 14, Koppel got the chance actually to appear as one of the daily-changing guest dancers on the show.

"My father had a connection with someone in the studio," she said. "So we drove from our apartment in the Bronx to Philadelphia...and that first time I went in alone. It was exhilarating, but also a little intimidating."

After that, Koppel appeared three or four more times—those times with girlfriends and "boys we knew could dance."

The show gained national fame when Dick Clark took over as host in 1956. Although nearly 60 years have passed since Koppel began watching American Bandstand, she said, "she still loves to dance."

"That's what we did back then," she said. "And the show really made the careers of so many up-and-coming artists."

Koppel also noted that the show added a whole new demographic of TV-watchers: teenagers.

"Soon there were advertisements targeting our age group," she said. "I truly think the show was revolutionary in what it did for the entertainment and music industries."

Clark's passing this week was sad for Koppel and her friends from her generation.

"I think, in a way, it represents the end of an era," she said. "I remember Dick Clark really interacting with the 'regulars; [teenage dancers who appeared on the show every day] and the musicians in such a wonderful way. I think he was a good man."

All the tributes to Clark on the news this week resonated with Koppel.

"He was an icon who will be missed," she said.

*As a side note, Koppel wrote in an email afterthought: "I neglected to mention that the date I took at 14 is my husband.  And, yes, we are still dancing!!!"

What do you remember about American Bandstand?  Did you ever appear on the show? Post your memories here.

Janet Hedrick April 22, 2012 at 01:24 PM
My uncle got ticket for the Dick Clark Saturday night show for my sister and cousin; and, since there was one extra ticket, they invited me too. Luckily, we sat in the bandstand (since, of course, I couldn't dance.) It is one of my best "teenage memories"--even though I was only 9!
Charles W Amann III April 22, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Lovely story. Come to Bandstand's Best and read more about Dick Clark and American Bandstand.
Lizzie Hedrick April 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Thanks, Charles!
Janine April 24, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Great story about Barbara dancing on American Bandstand. I know her, and to this day, she is one terrific dancer (along with her husband, Don, of course.) Some of her grandchildren have become fantastic dancers, too. Must be in the genes.

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