Does anyone out there remember Uptight? It was a weekly show that ran on CKWS-TV in Kingston, Ont., for a few years in, I’m going to say, the late 1960s and/or very early 1970s. Those were the days when I was growing up in Queensborough, and CKWS (Channel 11) was one of only three TV stations that the Manse’s gigantic old antenna (which, by the way, is still there) could pull in. So of course we watched quite a bit of Kingston programming on our rickety black-and-white set, including the classic half-hour religion show Gospel Temple.
Anyway, Uptight was a real period piece, and sadly I can find no trace of it whatsoever on the proverbial internet. But I am not making it up!
If you’re of my vintage or a little older, you probably remember the craze for dance shows. I assume American Bandstand was the granddaddy of them all, but apparently there were others (more on one of them shortly) – and I guess it was natural that small local TV stations like CKWS wanted in on the action too. But while American Bandstand and other big network shows brought in major stars to play live (or more probably lip-synched) music for a studio full of teenagers to dance to, I am pretty sure Uptight used recorded music. Which meant it would have been incredibly cheap content to produce, given that “the talent” – the dancers – came free of charge in the form of local kids who dressed up in their best minidresses and bell-bottoms and showed up for the taping.
When I was looking for photos to illustrate this post, I came across references to an American dance show that I’d not heard of before but that was apparently very well-known. According to the website upbeatdancers.com: “From 1964 to 1971 Upbeat was one of America’s top television shows, syndicated in over 100 cities. It was Simon and Garfunkel’s first TV appearance and Otis Reddings’s last. Nearly every major rock, soul and pop artist performed on Upbeat: The Who, Three Dog Night, Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, Kenny Rogers, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and many many more.”
Well, that’s all well and good, but the main role Upbeat plays in my little story this evening is that I suspect chances are good it gave the CKWS people the idea for the name of their considerably smaller-scale Canadian version.
Anyway, Uptight may have been of a modest budget and scale, but when I was a kid it was fun to watch. I mean, when you were nine years old in, say, 1969, 16-year-olds with long hair and paisley dresses and hip-hugger jeans doing funky dance moves were kind of awesome. Something to aspire to.
I remember one thrilling time when the story made the rounds – probably on the school bus – that some teenagers from our own local high school, Centre Hastings Secondary in Madoc, including one young Queensborough woman, had been bused to KIngston to dance on the show. We watched every second of that episode, so excited to see one of our own be a real TV star. Sadly, either she didn’t take that bus trip after all or the camera never alighted on her.
Anyway, it’s all a dim memory now. But I throught I’d throw it out there in case anyone else who might have been a CKWS viewer back in those more innocent days also remembers the fun of watching our local young people show their coolest moves on the dance floor.