“The dances” happened every summer in Allenhurst, New Jersey. The floor of an ocean-side restaurant — just “the restaurant” — would be cleared, and chairs lined up on both sides of the dance floor. Boys wore suit jackets; girls were in dresses with white gloves. Boys were required to cross the dance floor and ask, formally, “May I have this dance?”
When Geoff DiMasi talks about his childhood summers in that speck of a town at the Jersey Shore, he recalls the beach, and the boardwalk in nearby Asbury Park. But those dances, gone now, invoke the strongest memories. “It was so weird and bizarre, but a tradition in Allenhurst,” he says: a blue-blood tradition in a working-class town.
He hasn’t been back since Hurricane Sandy, which burst through the windows of the restaurant and flooded the place, most recently called Mr. C’s, in October 2012. It’s too painful. “Sandy knocked that that restaurant out of generations of memories,” he says.