pull up closer so you might hear. we'll tell you a tale of yesteryear. the likes of which have been told before and no doubt repeated when we're no more. but tonight we shine a light on this wondrous time. a time of abundance and a time of drought. a time full of pride and a time that borne prejudice. these were my dance hall days.
ACT I PROLOGUE
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens- A Tale Of Two Cities.
June 5, 1981, MMWR published a report of five cases of
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) among previously healthy young men in Los
Angeles (1 ). All of the men were described as “homosexuals”; two had died. Local
clinicians and the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer stationed at the Los
Angeles County Department of Public Health, prepared the report and submitted it
for MMWR publication in early May 1981. Before publication, MMWR editorial staff
sent the submission to CDC experts in parasitic and sexually transmitted diseases.
The editorial note that accompanied the published report stated that the case histories suggested a “cellular-immune dysfunction related to a common exposure” and
a “disease acquired through sexual contact.” The report prompted additional case
reports from New York City, San Francisco, and other cities. At about the same time,
CDC’s investigation drug unit, the sole distributor of pentamidine, the therapy for PCP, began to receive requests for the drug from physicians also to treat young men. In June 1981, CDC developed an investigative team to identify risk factors and to
develop a case definition for national surveillance. Within 18 months, epidemiologists conducted studies and prepared MMWR reports that identified all of the major risks factors for acquired immnodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In March 1983, CDC issued recommendations for prevention of sexual, drug-related, and occupational
transmission based on these early epidemiologic studies and before the cause of the
new, unexplained illness was known.
Back To the Underground
Following the collapse of the 70's Disco empire, the sound of disco did not die, but much of it returned back into clubs away from the mainstream music industry, or what was known as the underground. Much like in the early 70's, during the early 80's dance clubs became the key locations for hearing and experiencing the latest in Dance music. Dance music had largely disappeared from movies and television and was on life support on radio. Key clubs, however, continued to thrive. Among these were 3 New York clubs, the FunHouse, Paradise Garage, and The Saint, which live on in memories and legends as well as their impact in development of specific genres of Dance music.
above excerpt courtesy of wedanced.com
our catalysts enter shouting and carrying signs:
FIRST ACT UP DEMONSTRATION
WALL STREET March 24, 1987
Outraged by the government's mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, concerned individuals unite to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. ACT UP's first demonstration takes place three weeks later on March 24th 1987 on Wall Street, the financial center, to protest the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies (especially Burroughs Wellcome, manufacturer of AZT). Seventeen people are arrested. Shortly after the demonstration, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announces it will shorten its drug approval process by two years. | ACT UP Capsule History |
CHANTING: WE ARE ANGRY, WE WANT ACTION, WE ARE ANGRY, WE WANT ACTION.
CHANTING: RELEASE THOSE DRUGS, RELEASE THOSE DRUGS, RELEASE THOSE DRUGS.
above from actup
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
END ACT I PROLOGUE
the dance halls were loud, cacaphonous, and crowded and crazy and fantastic. we wouldn't feel as alone there and we we could drown out the silent screams in our heads. one of the only constants that many of us let trickle through to our numbed senses was the rhythm, the melody, the harmony, and the lyrics. and those voices. that thumping bass, those incredible recorded vocals, that laughter, and those lights. assimilation, indoctrination, training camp, telecommunication. dance halls made welcome this gay man's midnight rider.
offstage music plays, laughter carries, and lights are flashing as the epoch closes and dance hall days seem to fade..... or are they really fading?