Are Ya’ll Ready For This?

Before there was this version of Abby:

There was this version of Abby:

In case you are squinting at your computer, wondering who the adorably precocious child in fringe may be, let me just tell you. That’s an eleven-year-old me. And I used to be a clogger.

“What’s that? A clogger, you say?”

Yes. A clogger. For those who don’t know what clogging is, let me tell you.

Clogging is a traditional type of percussive folk dance which is common in the Appalachian Region of the United States, associated with the predecessor to bluegrass – old time music which is based on Irish and Scots-Irish fiddle tunes.
 
Thanks, Webster.
So you see, when I say I was a clogger, I mean I danced in tap shoes. Not wooden shoes.

To tell ya the truth, I was pretty dang good little clogger, ya’ll. I was a dancer with the Tri-City Express Cloggers from Kingsport, Tennessee, and we didn’t just dance at weekend festivals and nursing homes. Oh no. We also competed. (Hence the trophies in the picture above.)

My dancin’ feet took me travellin’, in contests and competitions state wide. One of the more memorable experiences was at Dollywood–a brand spankin’ new theme park in Pigeon Forge. We’d practiced, and practiced HARD, for weeks leading up to the Dollywood competition. It was our first time competing in such a large venue, and we had no idea what we were up against.

(PS: Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that you’re probably laughing at me right now. You know it, I know it. It’s totally ok. Let’s move on.)

This competition at Dollywood wasn’t a 3 hour affair. Oh, no. It was a weekend-long competition. And so our entire troupe–all 8 of us–brought our sequins and our hairspray and our tappy shoes and filled up a small corner of the giant auditorium. We each had our own entourage–parents, siblings, grandparents, friends–and the excitement was palpable.

I vaguely remember a guy wearing all denim and cowboy boots taking the mic and making a brief speech, and then, the competition finally began. We settled into our seats to watch as the first team clacked out onto the wooden stage. There were at least 30 of them, and they were all wearing matching red jumpsuits. Not just any red jumpsuits, but SEQUINED red jumpsuits.

A collective “WOW” could be heard on our 2 rows as we took in the spectacle. We’d never seen a clogging team like this before.

And THAT’S when the music started.

The bass pumped through the huge speakers, the synthesizer loud enough to make our already-big  hair stand up even taller. And like a perfectly-oiled machine, the dance troupe on stage began their choreography to the song that would haunt us for the rest of the weekend. You might remember it–a little diddy called “Are You Ready For This?”

 

(We’re going to pause again right here so you can laugh about the awfulness awesomeness of that video. then we’re going to move on. Ready? Ok.)

As the red-bedazzled team tippity-tapped their way into the judges’ hearts, we just sat there in awe. Where was the blue grass? Or the Garth Brooks? Who were these sophisticates from the big city? How could we begin to compete with our modest costumes and our small numbers? And they were dancing to music so cool and hip, we’d never heard it before! We were doomed.

Twenty minutes and 3 teams later, we were beginning to feel the nerves. Another team, this one decked out in green ruffles, took their places beneath the spotlights. And we sat watching, hearts in hand.

The now-familiar strains of  “Are Ya’ll Ready For This?” played over the loud speakers.

My Dad was sitting behind me, and I remember hearing him say, “Really? Again?”

We sat through another 4 minute routine, the unfamiliar song pulsing in our brains. And when the next team danced to the exact same song, I could see the adults in our group begin to cringe.

By 6 pm Saturday night, we’d heard the song approximately eleven-hundred-and-forty-seven times.

(What? So I might be rounding up a little. Big deal.)

After our performances were done, we began packing up our little group to head back to the cabins for the night. To say that we were ready to get out of that auditorium—and away from that song in particular—was understatement of the year. As the last team took to the stage, none of us were surprised to hear that fateful question asked of us again.

“ARE YA’LL READY FOR THIS?”

Without rehearsal and in perfect unison, my Dad and 2 other dads stood up and answered with a resounding “NO!”


And our merry little band of cloggers made our way to the exit, laughing all the way.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *      *     *     *

Fast-forward to spring of 1994. I was in the eighth grade, and a proud JV Cheerleader. As we jogged out into the middle of the basketball court to perform our first halftime show, my years as a clogger were the last thing on my mind. My parents sat proudly in the stands, and I took one last second to look up and smile before taking my position.

When I looked back up again, the strains of Jock Jams playing loudly in the background, I nearly tripped over my pom poms. Because when the guy yelled “Are Ya’ll Ready For This?” both my parents reflexively shouted the word, “NO!”

We now equate that reaction to PTCPD. Post-traumatic clogging parent disorder.

I’m sharing my love of techno music today with my favorite
Blogging Community–Yeah Write. (You totally
thought I was going to say Clogging Community, didn’t you?
That’s okay. We forgive you.
Especially if you stop by on Wednesday and vote for your 3 faves.

29 thoughts on “Are Ya’ll Ready For This?

  1. erica

    I always, ALWAYS wanted to be able to clog! I am not even joking. When the cloggers would come out at our Lady Vesty Festival, I so wanted to be up there with them. Nevermind that they were all ladies in their 50’s and 60’s. Nevermind that they were clogging to old country music. I was mesmorized by the clacking heels and synchronized steps. Do you still clog around?

    1. Abby

      I’ve been known to dance a jig or two. 🙂 I actually know 2 different styles of clogging–traditional (which you’re speaking of) and buck (which is the competition style of clogging.) I’d be happy to teach you! Hmm…perhaps a video blog tutorial one day? LOL

  2. Louise Ducote

    Born in TN and raised in TX, I am not unfamiliar with clogging, drill-teaming, baton-twirling and other big-haired sports. Fabulous post, priceless photos of your darling eleven-year-old self.

    1. Abby

      I love it!! I was a baton-twirler too…for about 4 minutes. The first time it whacked me in the face, I was out. LOL

  3. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    Totally not laughing at you. I think parents get back at their kids in very unusual ways. My sister and I were synchronized swimmers. Those clogs are looking pretty good to you now, aren’t they? Anyway, this was an adorable trip down memory lane that left me laughing, grateful, and sympathetic. Sympathetic because I know the syndrome of which you speak—it is NOT only for cloggers, but any child activity requiring musical accompaniment. I have never been the same around “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and they play that sucker at every sporting event they can find. love this. Erin

    1. Abby

      I would have given anything to be a synchronized swimmer. Seriously. I’m not kidding. I bet that was so much fun!!!

  4. Delilah Love

    Oh man, I held it together until the PTCPD. Then I couldn’t control the giggling. Hysterical! I’m from the South so I’ve seen my fair share of clogging and I am always amazed at the speed of their feet. My feet would be tied together and I’d go down like a big ole oak tree! Ker-thud!

    1. Abby

      I never had a problem with speed. It was creating sound that was loud enough to be heard that was a problem. I only weighed about 70 pounds soaking wet. My taps were super quiet.

  5. Heidi

    “Post-traumatic clogging parent disorder.” This whole post made me laugh, but that…that was awesome. And I’m laughing with you, not at you. My daughter has just begun entering festivals/competitions for ballet and, wow! My hat is off to you. 🙂

    1. Abby

      Most people haven’t, it’s ok. 🙂 You just need to take a trip to Dollywood, or Tweetsie Railroad! They still have cloggers!

  6. Ado

    Clogging gets a bad rap, I think – because of the word “clog” which is a well, it’s a silly word.
    I think clogging is ze bomb. The coolest. I bet in a year or two it’s going to make a hip Riverdance-style resurgence and you’ll see big buff black male dancers who are tap dancers and even rappers clogging. It will have its fifteen minutes of cool one day!! (-: Great post.

    1. Abby

      Oh how I hope that happens. Then when my kids come along, I can actually use the phrase “I was clogging before clogging was cool.” LOL

  7. Jamie

    I was a dancer, tapped, not clogged. Mostly jazz routines and yes we won nationals with a group of 4 of us toooooooo… :O Are You Ready for This!

  8. KimP

    That damn song is going to be in my head STILL when I wake up in the morning. I’m breaking up with you.

    ~The G is Silent

  9. Michael

    I’m blocked from seeing the video at work =[ so I’ll check that later. But since you mentioned Jock Jams, I have a feeling which one it is.

  10. Jen

    Dude. How many people can say they’ve been to Dollywood? You are rad. And so funny! I love how happy and proud you look in those pictures. Can you still bust a move?

  11. Meg O'Keefe

    LOL! PTCPD! I live in the south (a transplant from the great north) and have met several friends who used to clog when they were little. All are from Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina….guess I know what my daughter will be doing a few years from now. Are you ready for this!?!?!?

  12. euregirlsandboys

    This is hilarious! I grew up in southwest Virginia, so I’m not stranger to the clogger. And don’t worry, when I was in high school, we definitely did a cheerleading dance to that song! I can still remember most of the moves. That song always makes me think of cheerleading and of the movie Bring It On.

  13. Kristin

    I love those shoes! I couldn’t get through the video – sorry…but the photos are fantastic! I have seen clogging in person, actually, and it’s very cool. I’m far too klutzy to succeed, but I love to see it in action!

  14. Jackie

    Awesome! My cousin clogged as her talent in our local hometown beauty pageant. She did not win, however her costume later made me a rocking Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz!

  15. Crystal Raen

    Loved this read Abby! So jealous you were a clogger! I wanted to be one 🙁 Oh well, but seriously, loved the video (I know I’m a big ol’ nerd).

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