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Zama American High School cheerleaders perform 1950’s dances for the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association at the “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama.
Zama American High School cheerleaders perform 1950’s dances for the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association at the “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama. (Jim Schulz / S&S)
Zama American High School cheerleaders perform 1950’s dances for the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association at the “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama.
Zama American High School cheerleaders perform 1950’s dances for the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association at the “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama. (Jim Schulz / S&S)
Elvis impersonator, Andy Taylor, throws out a scarf to the ladies during a “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama.
Elvis impersonator, Andy Taylor, throws out a scarf to the ladies during a “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama. (Jim Schulz / S&S)
Zama American High School cheerleaders perform 1950’s dances for the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association at the “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama.
Zama American High School cheerleaders perform 1950’s dances for the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association at the “Thank You Sock Hop” at Camp Zama. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

CAMP ZAMA, Japan — A roomful of poodle skirts swayed before the crooning of an Elvis impersonator Wednesday during a thank-you sock hop at the Zama Community Center.

“It’s really fun,” said Eriko Tsuchikawa, from the Friendship Group, one of six Japanese ladies’ groups honored at the event. “Great decorations. It brings back the old days.”

To show appreciation to their host-nation friends, members of the Zama Officer and Civilian Spouses Association hosted the themed lunch.

“Each year, we try to do something typically American,” said president Deborah Bolas. Last year, the group held a Mardi Gras lunch. For next year, members are leaning toward a luau, she said.

To complete the atmosphere, the group scattered 45 RPM records, blow-up electric guitars, sunglasses, and period posters painted by the Zama American High School art class. They served burgers and fries and cherry Cokes.

“So much fun!” said Toshiko Yoshimura, a 23-year member of Heart to Heart. “I’m impressed. The decorations are so amazing.”

To help authenticate her outfit, Yoko Nagaki from the Friendship Group asked her English teacher for help. She came wearing an iron-on poodle on her shirt.

“I like to know about American culture and customs,” she said.

Sachiko Thompson, spouse associates’ People to People chairman, said she was a bit nervous about whether the group could pull off an actual sock hop.

“I was a little worried to be honest,” she said. “Because, the ’50s, it’s so hard to get dresses and things.”

Many association members ordered outfits and props online. Thompson bought her authentic poodle skirt in the States.

During the lunch, four high school cheerleaders in pink and black poodle skirts bopped to a medley of ‘50s classics. Later, the Zama High School chorus performed a “Back to the Fifties” collaboration.

There was a hula hoop demonstration and — everyone’s favorite — Elvis impersonator Andy Taylor, who rocked the house down in a fringed black jumpsuit.

The spouses association raises money for scholarships, Boy and Girl Scout troops and other base organizations. It routinely meets with members from different friendship groups to learn about and explore Japan.

“They show us the culture of Japan, the beauty of Japan,” Bolas said.

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