A little grayer, Bandstand ‘teens’ keep dancing

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Eleanor Biferi, 90, dances at Sugarhouse Casino during Jerry Blavat's weekly dance party, which he dedicated Wednesday to Dick Clark. (Morgan Zalot / Staff)

West Philly native Dotty Bradley's first memory of when "Bandstand" was filmed in Philadelphia is stuffing her bra with socks when she was 11 to make herself look older so she could sneak into the show with her cousin.

That was when Bob Horn hosted the show. But the personality who Bradley, 68, and her cousin Barbara Marcen, 72, remember rocking with best is Dick Clark.

"I used to dance right under the podium," Bradley said, beaming as she swayed to the beat at SugarHouse Casino, where local music legend Jerry Blavat dedicated his weekly dance party to the late "American Bandstand" host on Wednesday night. "He made an impact on my life, and I know he's smiling down on us."

Between spinning oldies and vamping for the crowd, Blavat laughed when he recalled his memories of Clark.

"I met him when I was 13 years old," Blavat said. "I'm just carrying on what he did in 1956 with 'Bandstand.' He was the one who understood what I was doing."

Midway through the party, Blavat gave a shoutout to Marcen, introducing her as one of the original dancers on "Bandstand" in Philly, and the blonde shimmied to the front of the packed dance floor, flashing a grin.

"He was a really nice man. He was a gentleman and he cared about the teenagers," she said between dances.

"He was an all-around good guy," Herb Lamb, 70, who danced with one of the cousins on each arm, agreed, chuckling as he recalled one show when Clark opened a door on national television "so Californians could see real snow."

Blavat stopped between songs to reminisce about Clark to thunderous applause from the 100 or so people who gathered for the party, many of whom were eager to share their own memories about the host, who died Wednesday at the age of 82.

"My three daughters knew Dick Clark very well," 90-year-old Eleanor Biferi shouted over the music from behind her oversize sunglasses. "They loved him, and he loved them. They attended all his dances."

As the party wound down around 7 o'clock Wednesday night, Blavat put on a slow record and paid one more tribute to his friend.

"He made rock and roll fashionable," he bellowed into the microphone to scores of claps and cheers. "God bless you, Dick Clark."

Contact Morgan Zalot at 215-854-5928 or zalotm@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @morganzalot.