The Rexicana Ballroom! Just saying the name brings a smile to my face. Located in Marshfield, MA, it was the only place to be on a Friday summer night. The Rex began it’s life as a very elegant ballroom, hosting the big bands of the 40s and probably some of our parents. Hurricane Carol in ’54 battered the building, but after the storm died down, the King was still standing. Unfortunately, a fire in 2006 finally claimed the life of our precious Rex.
All summer, during 1963 and 1964, phones would ring all over the South Shore o Thursday night, firming up rides to the Rex. For one night a week, the Rex became the embodiment ( and probably the smell) of teen spirit. It was truly a miracle that we made it there and back each week. My friends and I were from Norwood and usually rode with some boys from Needham. No seat belts, car loaded, as well as the driver.
The bones of the old ballroom remained intact. The stage was tiered, as it was in the big band days, so the drummer could perch high on his throne and the vocalist could be close and personal with the audience. There was a gallery around the dance floor with old, wooden chairs if you needed to sit or talk. There was also a balcony across the back where you could cool off a little. No air conditioning back then. It probably overlooked the ocean at one time, but in the ’60s, it overlooked a pool with a motel. Occasionally, someone would take the plunge and probably be “banned for life” from the town of Marshfield. Having been “banned” myself at one time, we knew we could just cross illegally in a different car. The dance floor would be packed with hundreds of sweaty teenagers, all wearing madras and trying to do fake splits. If you stood still, you cold feel the floor bounce in time with the music. No one checked the doors, so there were lots or trips outside to cool off, walk on the beach, or make a quick trip to the car for a little Southern Comfort. My only experience with that vile stuff was standing by while someone spewed it all over the parking lot. Today, I still can’t tolerate the smell of that stuff.
The music was always great, although I have difficulty remembering all the bands. The Ramrods were cute and sexy before that word became part of my vocabulary. but, honestly, we were not there for the music. We were there for the total experience. By the end of the night, we were exhausted, soaked with sweat from head to toe with our skin stained with colors from our madras shirts. How could anything be better?
The night ended with a stop at A & W Root Beer. The driver always got his final kicks for the night by sudden accelerations to see how much root beer we could wear home.
I feel so fortunate to be able to call myself a child of the 60s. We began our journey at the Rex and that special place will always live on in my heart.
(by Carol Starkey)