We walked around the corner onto 54th Street. We confidently strolled down the entire street, past the long line of people. We reached the velvet ropes, and Paul was working at the door.
“Paul!” I yelled, waving my hands in the air.
“Stacy!” he cried, as he swept me up and swung me around. We kissed hello on the cheek as he asked, “How many with you tonight?”
“Six,” I replied pointing to my friends.
He opened the velvet rope for us. My friends went through the regular entrance, while I was ushered through the VIP door.
I stood there and took in my surroundings as I waited for my friends to catch up with me. I listened to the dance music, looked at the packed dance floor, the huge bar, and the steps up to the infamous balcony. I could not believe how lucky I was to spend the Saturday nights of my senior year in high school at the hottest club in Manhattan – Studio 54.
“Mom…. MOM!!! Are you going to answer me? Please, can I do it?”
My 16-year-old daughter snapped me out of my past and into the present, where she was, as usual, asking for something.
About a year ago, my daughter wanted to take courses at a school in Manhattan for a few weeks over the coming summer. She would live in the school’s dorms in the city and take trains and Uber to and from her classes.
The mom in me wanted to scream, “NO!” The city could be dangerous, trains even more so. What would she do at night, go to bars? Clubs? What if she got lost? What about the Uber drivers? What if one was a kidnapper? She just wasn’t old enough. I wanted to lock her in the house to keep her safe.
That is when my mind took me back to what I was doing when I was her age. Back then I had a friend who was in college already, a few years older than me. He worked for a company that ran parties at Studio 54 on Saturday nights, and he gave me the job of inviting kids from my high school. In return, I got paid very minimally, but more importantly, I received VIP treatment at the club. Those nights were some of the most fun I have ever had.
Times are different now. In those days, our parents were a little more relaxed than the parents of today. But the world was safer then, wasn’t it? Crazy, horrible things didn’t seem to happen as often. We have more reason to worry now. The world is a scary place.
Then again, do more terrible things happen now or do we just have more access to this information? The Internet has put every horrible event right at our fingertips, when years ago we may have never heard some of these terrifying stories.
What we do have today is the technology to keep us in contact with one another. My parents often had no idea where I was or how I got there. It was difficult for me to get in touch with them if I needed to. When I left my house, they just hoped for the best until I came home.
These days, almost every child has a phone. They can text or call a parent whenever they want, and we can do the same with them. We can Facetime to see where they are if we want to. There are also apps to track our kids so that we can know their exact location at all times.
I was not a rebellious teenager. My parents knew about my time at Studio 54. I was honest with them (most of the time), and in return, they trusted me. I danced my nights away at the biggest club in history. I did not drink excessively, I did not do drugs, and I did not sleep around. I certainly wasn’t perfect; I was a teenager after all. But because I had some freedom, I never rebelled.
I am now a mom of two teenage girls. The world is a scary place, and I would like to keep both of my daughters at home watching “Hannah Montana” like they did when they were young. That is not realistic. They are growing up and want and need to have life experiences. I cannot keep them in a bubble. I can only hope that I have taught them well, well enough to make smart choices.
Somewhat hesitantly, I let my daughter take those classes in Manhattan and live in the dorm for four weeks. She kept in constant touch with me and stayed safe. Equally as important, she had what was probably the greatest experience of her life so far. She became independent, responsible, and quite city savvy. She also made great friends and had a ton of fun.
That younger me standing in Studio 54 would be very proud of the “mom me.” She would want her daughters to have new experiences just like she did. She would understand how scary it is to let her children out into the world but that giving them the opportunity to spread their wings is the best way to teach them to fly.