Bedazzled tops, “car wash” flapping black pants, extravagant choreographed partner dances, and five-part harmonies over a live band consumed my high school experience. I wasn’t a part of a Country Square Dance Team or a bad high school movie; I was a proud member of RSVP, my high school’s pop choir.
RSVP, Rowlett Student Vocal Performers, were the highest step on the social ladder of a choir or theatre kid. I’d even say we were just a couple notches below the cheerleaders. We were music dorks by heart, but had learned to cover this up well through our high school careers. With songs like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the Blackeyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started” we thought of ourselves as a modern version of the cheesy, outdated show choir.
RSVP had six girls, six boys, five band members, and one choreographer. As unbelievable as it sounds, every year these treasured spots were fought for, and we started rehearsing for the auditions at least a semester in advance. There were three rounds in the audition process and, after making it my sophomore year, I was proud to have won one of those spots.
After the bloodshed of spring semester auditions, the drama arose immediately. RSVP was a mini soap opera, full of girls having cheating relationships with the band boys and singers fighting over which solo they got and who would be on the front row for the dances. With the additional influence of unbalanced adolescent hormones, our high school’s pop group equated to one giant mess.
Even with the chaos, we still managed to learn some songs and dances. The fall was considered our “touring” season, when we went around to nursing homes, elementary schools, and festivals around Dallas putting on our shows. For most of these we wore our formal outfit which consisted of our black “car wash” pants and our sequined tops. But at our bigger shows at elementary schools we’d do an outfit change and put on our custom-made poodle skirts to go along with our retro songs. The kids thought anyone older was cool, so performing there was easy, even in a poodle skirt.
During the holidays we got the privilege of singing at all five of our high school’s lunches. We sang all of our holiday songs: “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “Christmas Time is Here,” and “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree,” just to name a few. The holidays always brought with them the more corny songs, but our peers seemed to give us some slack, since holiday music usually is dorky, and we threw on Santa hats so our friends wouldn’t take us as seriously to begin with.
Once the spring semester rolled around, mayhem really ensued. Our Spring Show was the biggest show that we put on all year, usually with around 25 songs, including both solos and group songs, with skits in between. Every song required a full costume change, and we got creative with costumes.
Some of my favorite and often most embarrassing costumes were a mustard-colored patterned poncho for the 70’s classic “Age of Aquarius,” my cut-off sports top and Adidas pants for my cameo as Sporty Spice in “Say You’ll Be There,” and a sequined number with white gloves for “We’re Your Dream Girls.”
My mom clings to the videos of our Spring Shows, despite my begging her to get rid of them. Watching the videos usually turns out to be disappointing. Being in RSVP was like euphoria; everything seemed perfect and good-looking all the time. Looking back, I can clearly see that my high school days with RSVP were a delusional era for me. But it was totally worth it.