Theme music: Archie Bell & the Drells - I Can't Stop Dancing
Ad Rock getting ready to go out in the late 80s over a Beastie instrumental of the Jam's Start!
Getting ready to go out dancing in this anti-dance age is an important ritual. Besides the clothes and the drinks and the drugs, getting your mind and body primed for movement is crucial, but who and where are your role models? Thanks to the endlessly amazing internet you can now cop some new moves from the comfort of your tiny apartment in your even tinier room!
My old stand-by was just to watch a dozen vintage Soul Train clips (especially the Soul Train Line) before going out but fucking Don Cornelius Productions, Inc. has deleted them all off of YouTube. Thankfully, with a little creative searching (Google video), you can still find some. On a side note, most of the performances are unfortunately lip-synced including this Marvin Gaye performance where he's too high (simultaneously funny and sad) to remember to sing along. On the other hand, maybe he's such an amazing singer he's just refusing to play their game and is more than happy to just dance around and hit on the ladies in the front row:
Once and a while however an artist performs live and kills it! Like James Brown did on one of his two ever performances on the show (do I have to point out that the man is so funky he has two drum sets?!):
Do yourself a favor and try and seek out some of the other performances (or just come over to my house and watch them). One of the most surprising is David Bowie doing an interview and performing Golden Years and Fame during his "Thin White Duke" phase where he was subsisting on nothing but peppers, milk and cocaine. Then there's Al Green singing Tired of Being Alone where it had to be pointed out to me that he's wearing a vinyl miniskirt (or are those hot shorts?) and a halter top. The man is dripping with so much sex that he can wear anything and his sexuality won't even be questioned! I spent a weeks pay once to see him and never regretted it. Make sure to put spermicidal cream in your ears so you don't get knocked up.
But all of this is getting away from the point: dancing. As I was saying, the legendary Soul Train Line is probably the most consistent and practical way to learn some new steps. Here are two I could find:
And here's a rare clip of James Brown showing you the moves:
And another one of M.I.A. doing likewise:
[I'm afraid I have to add a caveat to this video. It's a clip from an indie-rock kids show from Washington D.C. called Pancake Mountain that apparently features one of the most annoying TV hosts I've ever seen. Seriously, even kids should be able to tell that this guy sucks. It's so awful it's like when you're making out with a really rad girl and some obnoxious guy keeps walking into the room and turning on the light and drunkenly yelling and maybe puking a little and it happens to be a day where maybe your complexion could be looking a little better and you spent all week planning on how to get this girl alone and...ugh, you get my point. I really want to hurt this guy. So just ignore the him and watch Mathangi Arulpragasam explainin how to "step on the cockroach" and little kids yelling "Yay! We don't have to learn anything!!"]
I guess as long as we're talking about dancing and cockroaches...oh wait, I was confusing The Champs' "Tequila" with "La Cucharacha." Oh well, fuck it. Here's Pee-Wee Herman in maybe the best movie ever made showing how dancing crosses all cultures and helps build bridges:
Now that that's all done and dusted and you're feeling all twitchy come and meet me at one of the many coverless soul dance parties in New York! Or if you're not in the city, schedule your visit around one of these (out of too many to mention):
Smashed Blocked and SoulShaker at Beauty Bar
and Subway Soul at Rififis.
I need to add one last thing. My friend Pearl and I went to see Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings at the Apollo a while back and half-way through an hour and a half of non-stop dancing I started to get a little misty eyed because this was the same Harlem stage where James Brown recorded his legendary album Live at the Apollo in 1962, the recorded performance where he had the audience wrapped around his finger to the point where the smallest whimper would send them into hysterics and allegedly the typical full-throttle Brown performance was supposedly restrained because recording equipment at the time couldn't handle the his scream [see Cold Sweat] . Anyway, for their encore, Sharon Jones and guest Lee Fields did a medley of the album and made me almost cry. One of the best shows I've ever seen.
Don't stop dancing.