The Bare Essentials...of Moonshine
Phoenix 1991 – January – and even though it was supposed to be winter, the weather was beyond warm. We were fly-in virgins and like the rest of you at your first fly-in, spent every minute dancing that weekend.
Sometime on Saturday afternoon, the comment was made that we should just dance in the nude – after all it would be cooler. For those of you who’ve not partaken of Moonshine, it is decidedly not cooler to dance without clothes – all of that sweat (sorry “ladies” glow) needs to be absorbed or it just gets humid enough for a rainforest! Throughout the evening, the idea was mentioned to a few more people and the response was typically “wonder how much bail is in Arizona?” accompanied by laughter. By the end of the planned dance, nine people were willing to take the plunge and we’d managed to find a couple of brand new (unsuspecting) dancers who weren’t even through mainstream yet and didn’t necessarily want to participate but were willing to host our clandestine gathering. Wait… we’re forgetting something – oh yes, a caller! Enter...ta da! Bill Eyler. Bill was willing to risk his eyesight but his partner at the time insisted that Bill remain fully clothed. So… despite the somewhat “unusual” terms, we had ourselves a caller.
On the way to the house, we lost 3 people. I’m not sure if alien abductions played a role – after all, from a space ship, the outskirts of Phoenix could resemble area 51 but… So, there we were, six relative strangers sitting around a living room fully clothed waiting for the caller and making slightly awkward small talk. Our hosts agreed to dance as long as we kept the level at basic just so that we could have our Moonshine– they really are the most accommodating hosts I have ever met.
Bill arrived and set up his sound equipment while the rest of us got ready. I believe I’m the only one who’d been to naturist events before. Lights were dimmed until you could barely see your own feet and some of the more modest members managed to disrobe behind the kitchen island. After the first time, the lights went back up for purely safety reasons – left allemands were a little “hit and miss” if you catch my drift! Three tips later, we were as comfortable sitting around chatting au naturel as we’d been earlier in the evening dancing with our clothes on.
The 1992 convention in Albuquerque was the first time that Moonshine became an official sanctioned tip. Bill Eyler, Kris Jensen, and Turtle-Bear were, I believe, the organizers of the event. I remember walking into the hall, BJ Dyer sprinting past me, headed for the mioe to call, while trying to shuck his jeans at the same time. It is a mystery how the man didn’t seriously injure himself! I also remember the crowd of people that headed towards the hall after the Honky Tonk contest was over. We knew we weren’t going to be able to accommodate everyone so they found us a bigger hall but we had to get there. Does anyone else remember the human chain of clothed dancers who wanted to participate, lining the passage between the new and old Moonshine halls, facing out, as the dancers who’d already been in the Moonshine Tip, scurried into the new hall with their clothes and shoes in hand? I think we started off with 6 squares in the first hall and ended up with twenty plus in the new hall.
Over the years, Moonshine Tips continue to offer a safe place for everyone to dance free of clothes if they so choose. It would not be possible without volunteers - callers like Anne Uebelacker, Vic Ceder, Todd Fellegy, Bill Eyler, and Kris Jensen, or without the security crew Judith, DC, Dana, Dee, Diana, Donna, Tim, Drew, Greg, and Laura. Thanks to everyone who’s helped out.
Bottoms up – see you on the dance floor soon. Yellow rocks!