"What I would like you to do," she says, "is to use the word twist as your inspiration. You could write about the dance move, or you might want to twist your words. Another option is to present your piece with a visual twist. If none of that works for you, then the standard definition of the word twist will suffice."
"Twisting" as a dance move, dates back to the 1890s, says Laurie, and in parts of West Africa even before then. Chubby Checker topped the charts in 1960 with his version of The Twist.
Wikipedia lists many hit Twist songs, including Sam Cooke's "Twisting the Night Away" and the Beatles 1964 song "Twist and Shout."
My old twist on the twisting theme is the following true story about how this dance affected my life and raised my confidence when it badly needed reinforcing.
Mom, this one's for you. I wish you were still with us.
COME ON, LET'S TWIST AGAIN,
LIKE WE DID LAST WINTER!
© Kay Davies
When we were young, and hanging out at the local hockey rink with all the rest of the kids every winter, our mother got a job in the arena concession stand (probably, I’ve just figured out at my age, to keep an eye on her offspring).
As the building with the largest (but not most comfortable) seating capacity in town, the arena was the place where lots of things happened besides public skating, figure skating classes and minor hockey games.
Performers performed there. Exciting ideas found homes there and, in the early 1960s, someone had the idea to have a Twist contest there.
I don’t remember whose records they used for the dancing besides Chubby Checker’s, but there was plenty of music. And I—little me—I was in the contest.
I probably weighed a hundred pounds, soaking wet, or maybe one-oh-four, and I was slim, slim, slim with a figure best described as boyish.
Nevertheless, I was determined to enter. I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t play an instrument, I couldn’t hula-hoop, I couldn’t play sports, I couldn’t even "slow dance" because I always stepped on my partner’s feet and tripped over my own, but for some reason I could do The Twist.
I had found my niche.
“I’m going to enter the contest, Mom,” I declared.
“Okay, I’m working that night, I’ll give you a ride. What are you going to wear?”
Well, if there’s anything a clumsy girl does not need in public, it is clothing that will get in her way. No skirts, no shoes with heels. I had a soft sweater I liked a lot, but I didn’t know what to wear with it. I knew I needed pants that fit. Really fit.
I had an old pair of corduroy pants lined with plaid flannel, but they were so worn out, there were holes in the seat of them. They were also too short, but that could be remedied by rolling them up to just above my knees (a daring length at the time) and the lining thus exposed by the rolling gave me an idea.
It was a great idea, too, another one ahead of its time. I carefully cut a piece out of the lining from the top of the inside thigh part, and just as carefully sewed it over the holes in the back.
On my feet, I wore cute, comfy little tennis shoes and perky white socks. Add a little scarf of the sort we used to call a “neckerchief” and a bouncy little pony tail, and I was all set.
The Memorial Arena in Kelowna, British Columbia, was not American Bandstand, to be sure, but for that one night I was a hit. No, I didn’t win the contest, not even second or third or tenth, but it was the next best thing, thanks to what my mother heard.
The judges watched the dancers until their own eyes were twisting, then went to get coffee at the concession (temporarily closed to the public while the judges were there) and serving the coffee was none other than Mother Davies. Of course, the judges talked, discussing the dancers amongst themselves.
One judge admitted himself to being far from making a decision. “I don’t know what to think,” he said, “because that little red backside with the plaid patch on it had me hypnotized.”
Well, now—hypnotized, was he?—what more could a young teenager want?
(Mom and Dad told me not to let it go to my head, so of course I've been suitably humble ever since. Of course.)