As Time Goes By
The Fall Bomber's Moon Ball Hangar Dance
By Libby Ryan
I stood at the front of the dance floor, a live band playing Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” behind me. Clapping along to the beat, I watched the dancers form a circle and bold couples take their turn spotlighted in the center. A stranger’s eyes met mine from across the circle, seeing my toes tapping while I grinned appreciatively at the soloists’ moves. He gestured for me to join him, pointing a finger directly at me. I didn’t hesitate. The next second, we were spinning around the floor, the circle of onlookers a blur before my eyes.
We were alone on the floor until the last few measures, when all the couples jumped into the circle to finish the song. I thanked my partner and applauded the band before returning to the side of the dance floor where everyone waited for the musicians to strike up another song.
I wore a dress I hadn’t worn in a long time and red patent-leather high heels. My hair was in victory rolls and my lipstick fire-truck red. I was dressed for a trip back in time, and stepping into the Fleming Field Airport hangar earlier that night transported me to the 1940s.
The Fall Bomber's Moon Ball Hangar Dance at Fleming Field Airport was hosted by the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) on September 6th, with all the proceeds of the dance going towards the CAF museum. The entire building was decorated to fit the World War II theme, and the attendees were dressed accordingly.
It could have been 1943. I might have been standing in a dance hall during the war years, the soldiers on leave kicking up their heels for a night. I felt as if I was living in a different time, a time when dancing was an escape from the harsh realities of the world outside. The connection between the music and the dancing was instinctive. The melodies of the old standards made it impossible to sit still, from the energetic swing classics to nostalgic love ballads.
The Roseville Big Band channeled the swing sound of the '40s perfectly, along with a dance lesson by TC Swing and Rhythm & Swing. A sailor-themed Lindy hop performance highlighted a brief break in the social dancing before the costume-contest winners wowed even the most ambitious vintage-dressed guests.
Throughout the night, I kept thinking to myself how accurate a snapshot this might be of the old days when ballroom dancing was commonplace and everyone crowded onto the dance floor on Saturday nights. Waltz, foxtrot, and swing were all well represented.
Was this the way the world was seventy years ago? If I had been a girl in 1943, would I have danced to “As Time Goes By” with a pilot in a crowed dance hall shortly before he headed off to war? Would I have swung the night away to live music until my feet begged me to stop?
As I swayed slowly to the sound of my favorite Glen Miller song, I felt a glimmer of nostalgia. My partner lowered me into a dip as the last notes of "Moonlight Serenade" played. If this was my glimpse into the 1940s, I had a suspicion I’d found the era where I belonged.