By Pegi Taylor   Published Sep 21, 2002 at 5:39 AM

I tell people my religion is dancing. When there's live music with a drummer, my body wants to move.

The outdoor dancing season in Milwaukee spans from late May through mid-September. Church festivals and Walker's Point music marathon start things off and the summer flies by until the final week of Jazz in the Park. I can dance almost every day of the week. In the winter, I'm generally stuck with bars. The music doesn't usually start until ten p.m., my eyes sting from cigarette smoke, and I have to put up with the behavior of obnoxious drunks.

During the four-month outdoor dancing window of opportunity, a small group of regulars show up. There's Elizabeth, who wears earplugs so she doesn't damage her hearing near the booming speakers. Maybe you've seen Mike flipping Debbie upside down. The two of them look like they're running through some sort of military maneuver with their stiff routines. Of course, there's the retired couple Frank and Betty. They always dress in color-coordinated outfits. Frank looks like a cross between Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra. Betty, with her dyed red hair, always looks a little dazed, yet delightful.

Dancing with a partner doesn't appeal to me. We women have men leading us by the nose all the time. Why would I want a man telling me what to do when I'm DANCING? No thank you. Also, to me, dancing is not about sex. I watch all the lap dancing and couples doing foreplay on the dance floor and think,"Why limit yourselves like this?" Sex is great, but is EVERYTHING about sex?

And I certainly have no desire to appear on TV. Whenever I see Betty and Frank, they tell me about their latest appearance on one of the local channels, but when TV cameras show up I used to move out of the way. Then, this year, I decided to come up with some phrase I could have printed on some T-shirts that would be offensive enough to keep the cameras off me without resorting to foul language. My daughter suggested I print "PENIS" in really large letters on the front and back. I rejected this idea because I thought it would attract unwanted male attention. I discarded various political statements, because I didn't want to get into arguments with anybody. I just wanted to dance undisturbed.

So my significant other and his friend came up with "TV SUCKS," which I had printed in five-inch high letters on two gray sleeveless and two bright gold short-sleeve T-shirts. It worked. TV cameras have stayed away from me.

What I didn't anticipate is that my bold statement would invite responses. At first, I just noticed how people would sometimes smile at me when I passed. Then, while biking down to RiverSplash!, a young guy in a car honked and yelled out the window, "TV ROCKS!"

People sometimes inquire where I bought my T-shirt. I debated having a bunch made and selling them. If some entrepreneur out there wants to pursue this, you have my full permission. The more folks wearing "TV SUCKS!"T-shirts the better.

At Summerfest, a woman approached me and wanted to know, "What's wrong with TV?" I hadn't prepared an answer, so instead I asked, "Well, what's right with it?" She said, "There's nothing else to do during the winter."

Now I have all sorts of reasons ready, like how TV has made us into a society of inactive couch potatoes and how all the ads have transformed America into a country of people addicted to shopping.

I wore my T-shirt both days I went to State Fair. I couldn't believe how many people commented on my shirt. They were evenly split. Those who like TV told me it's entertaining, educational and relaxes them. At the strudel stand, the man who handed me a broccoli puff said, "You must like radio."


The most alarming reaction to my shirt occurred at Rainbow Summer. A preteen girl kept pointing at my shirt and waving to her friend to look. So I asked her if she agreed with what it said. She screamed, "NO. NO. I NEED TV!"

On August 21 at River Rhythms, dancing to The Commitments, the keyboard player and bass guitarist started pointing at their chests. I didn't realize they were trying to get my attention. Finally, they both pointed at my shirt and gave me the thumbs up.

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether musicians find me a pain in the ass or not. Some bands want to be watched and some want people to boogie. As a rule, once every summer some group gives me a CD because I've gotten out there and danced.

On a rainy Tuesday night in August, The Jamesons played an opening set for the Love Monkeys at Rainbow Summer. Afterwards, one of the guitarists walked over and handed me their new CD "Three Steps to Heaven." I do feel like I'm in heaven when I dance, and forgot to find out whether he gave me the freebee because I was dancing or because he liked the message on my T-shirt.