Christchurch, New Zealand, 1978

Is anything more fraught than the school disco? The anticipation, the trepidation. What to wear. How much blue eyeshadow is too much? Is glitter highlighter overkill? How will I smuggle my super-high cork-soled platforms out of the house?

And then there were the boys. The occasionally cool, swaggering, testosterone-filled boys. Our boys. The ones that hung out at the far side of the rugby field, where we shared cigarettes and took turns as lookouts.

His name was Hemi. He was short and stocky and sexy. He had a killer smile and his dark almond eyes had eyelashes way longer than any boy should have. I liked him and he liked me.

And then there was Roxy. Roxy was cool, tough, and never afraid to scrap it out with the older girls, bigger girls. She always won. She liked Hemi and he liked her.

Tina and I spent the afternoon getting ready together, looking as hot as any two teenage girls with limited style could. Her father dropped us off, told us to behave and said he’d be back for us at 10.

The night was punctuated with bad dancing and sneaky vodka hip flasks, furtive cigarettes and, for the already-couples, a pashfest in the dark corners. But, of course ,there was only one thing that really mattered, the last dance, The one that defined who was with whom for the rest of the week, term, year. And this last dance was Hemi’s.

The song came on, starting slow. Hemi stood up on the other side of the hall. He walked across the dance floor, purposeful. Time slowed down with every step towards his destination. My heart thudded in my chest as I sat in fake cool. Until he held out his hand. To Roxy.

From their clinch on the dancefloor, he caught my eye, apologetic. I smiled, straightened my spine, and put my shoulders back. I picked up my coat and bag as my tiny teenage heart cracked and shifted. With Tina holding my hand, we walked out the door without a backward glance.

The wait for Tina’s father was eternal. I summoned a voice in the car.

“Yes thanks, Mr Sidley. It was great. Thanks for the lift.”

Until finally we were in my street. Keeping a low profile, I entered my house. I went straight to the bathroom and took off my stupid blue eyeshadow with baby oil.

Stereo Story #593