The soundtrack to my adolescence and young adulthood in Northeast Ohio was unusual. While my peers were listening to Depeche Mode on the radio or catching a live show at the Grog Shop, I was in the ballet studio. While my high school classmates listened to the CHS band before Friday night football, I was in the ballet studio. Dancing to Miss Jackson (nasty or not) in the Burger King parking lot? Me? Not unless that parking lot had ballet barres and wrap-around mirrors.
You get the picture. Instead of memorizing every word to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s classic, “Baby Got Back,” I was enduring mandatory games of Name that Tune in the ballet studio. As in: pianist on the baby grand in the corner plays a few bars of classical music and we bun-heads guess the composer and piece. (Tip: Tchaikovsky is always a safe bet when betting on ballet music.)
My personal soundtrack during my formative years–and by extension my entire budding identity–felt terribly inaccurate. On my pathetic playlist: a little Whitney, some Tears for Fears, my parents’ Herb Alpert and Brothers Four records, and a smattering of Russian ballet compositions I couldn’t name.
Forgivable if I lived just anywhere. But I lived outside Cleveland, Ohio, rock ‘n’ roll capital. (Just go with me on that.)
My soundtrack’s saving grace: Cleveland’s rock station, WMMS. Really, I knew I wasn’t cool enough to blare that kind of music, while driving my parent’s Chevy Cavalier through the snow to and from classes and rehearsals, pink tights on, hair in a tight bun. Never could I have sported a t-shirt with the rock station’s mascot, the Buzzard, with the necessary cool-girl aplomb.
But I would listen to these rockin’ sounds of my city, and that tagline that gets me jazzed even today. Please enjoy this blast from Cleveland radio past:
What is your hometown’s sound? Let’s talk!
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