Dancing on the Varsity Show
by Michael R Dougherty
Anchorage area teens Circa 1968
Watching the Varsity Show on KTVA channel 11 was always fun because you could see Anchorage teens dancing to the latest hits, you'd see the latest dance moves, and you could see your friends and people you knew.
Yes, watching the Varsity Show was fun, but actually going down to KTVA's studios in the McKinley building, later named the McKay building, and even later in their Spenard studios, was an entirely unique experience.
Teens that came to the studios to dance on the show were always surprised at how different the show's set looked in the studio. In person, it looked smaller than it did on TV. And of course, the bright studio lights took some getting used to.
Occasionally, the show's crew would play a couple of songs just before the show went live, so the dancers could get used to dancing on the set and under the studio lights.
Then, once the show went live, there were plenty of fun songs to dance to.
If you were shy, even getting a free coke to drink was interesting. To get a Coke, you had to walk right onto the set and under those bright lights to get your coke, which was courtesy of Anchorage Cold Storage, one of the show's sponsors.
Being behind the scenes could also be fascinating.
Once in a while, when Anchorage teens filled the dance floor and were dancing away to a hit song, something would happen to the sound and the music would cut out.
To compensate, the Varsity Show TV crew would tell the dancers to “keep dancing” even though they couldn't hear the music. Of course, the viewers at home thought their TV sets were acting up because they weren't hearing the music, but the teens were still dancing.
Also behind the scenes, the Peter Paul Candy Company was a Varsity Show sponsor and each Saturday during the live show, all the teens that came down to dance were given Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars.
The Varsity Show was a lot of fun and Anchorage area teens had a really great way to spend a Saturday afternoon when they went to the KTVA studios to dance on TV.
It's been a long time since the Varsity Show went off the air.
You know, years ago, the ABC Television Network had American Bandstand with Dick Clark and many television stations across America had local teen dance shows.
But the Varsity Show was different. It was Anchorage's own and area teens were provided the opportunity to work behind the scenes and in front of the camera on the show. Many crew members went on to have careers in the entertainment industry.
Today's teens are really missing out.
I wonder what the Varsity Show would look like if it was still being broadcast today?
Of course, it would be seen in HD color. “Hey look at that girl, the one with the green hair.”
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