I took a stroll down memory lane today. I was dancing underneath a disco ball to Aerosmith’s “Angel” while awkwardly trying to stay at arm’s length from my dance partner, a boy from one of the “public” schools.know more on videos for teens.
Later, I was giggling with my girlfriends about the cute boy that tried to touch my butt and the even cuter boy standing in the corner. We would take a short break for Tombstone pizzas and maybe even a video game or two before heading back to the dance floor – a place where we felt on top of the world and totally rad.
These memories from the late 80s were all created at a place called Tepee. Back in my day, Tepee was the place to be every Friday night. A youth haven for 7th and 8th graders, this little brick building was home to 13 and 14-year olds each weekend from 7-10 p.m.
Today, after talking with a long-time volunteer from the organization, it was refreshing to learn that Tepee is still going strong every Friday night and ironically, not much has changed.
The brick building still stands on the corner of Main Street, the bearded DJ from 1989 is still spinning tunes and the rules are still the same – no fighting, no bullying, no kissing, no groping, etc. The penalty box still exists for repeat offenders.
Although life changes you, it is comforting to know that some things stay the same.
During a time when my whole world was changing, Tepee was a constant for me. In 7th grade my body was changing, my attitude was developing, and my friends were multiplying. By 8th grade, my parents were getting divorced and my fears of high school were looming in the back of my mind.
While the world was changing at a rapid pace, Tepee stood still, offering me a place to feel accepted, excited, and unique. My friends and I were the girls from the Catholic school – the small circle of about 8 – and Tepee was one of the only places we could expand our circle of friends. We laughed with each other, fought with each other, and learned to live with and without each other before we all headed off to high school.
Tepee was an outlet for me to form a sense of identity – a renewed confidence. I proudly flipped my collar up, curled my claw bangs, and tight rolled my jeans. I felt free when I entered the door and felt safe at the same time.
Pre-teens need a place that provides security, social opportunities, and brainless fun. Parents need these places just as much – a safe haven where children are supervised.
Although times have changed and the Tepee volunteers combat more than just a few groping pre-teens, it still offers the same, clean fun that it did when I was a pre-teen.
My memories of dancing under that disco ball to the sound of Steven Tyler will always hold a special place in my heart. I just wish I could remember that boy’s name.