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Saturday, January 31, 2009

dance hall days

two true blues.... top pic 1984 upstairs at medusa's
btm pic very recently with a face that still lights up my heart

fairyland balls
mating calls
lovers quarrels
expanding morals
desires spurned
urges burned
signals turned
lessons learned

performance art
workout room
interpretive dance
community room
powder room

these were my dance hall days.

there are tidbits of my life that will always have glimmer. moments and memories, sounds and smells, snapshots and silhouettes that may always be etched into the sandscape of my history.

i got an email from my friend blue (pictured above channeling "mrs. levin" with medusa's sister sharon) from chicago last night. typed in the subject line was "oh gurl".. and in the body of the note, he went on to say that he was listening to some old favorites... ian dury and the blockheads with spasticus autisticus.. chery lynn doing star love... and loleatta holloway with hit and run...

i was driving to work as i read these words on the new blackberry and my heart skipped a beat. honestly it did. these tunes used to represent so much more than just a few minutes to us back then. they were anthems of sorts and somehow helped cement a bond between those of us in the club. we silently agreed that these dj- probably someone like mark hultmark or frankie knuckles or mark stephens, had what it took to consruct the soundtrack of our young lives. they had put in the time and the research, understood our history and our mission, and could soothe our souls and spawn inspiration while they held court in the crow's nest.

i find it soothing to take a moment now and then to sink back into my armchair of memory and breathe in an elixir of youth, memory, passion, and hope. i can't ever go back, but now and again, i can play the video. i know i am not the same, but the soundtrack still holds much of the same excitement it did then.

i have known blue since 1979 (i think). i remember him from an earlier time- probably 1976 or 77. he was in the "rula lenska look-a-like contest" at cheeks and he introduced himself as bluela lenska - rula's once-prettier sister who had fired the wrath of rula and become the consequence of acid in the face. i think blue was high on mda or something, but i didn't know him then and i remember asking someone-"who is that?"..

anyway, blue and i met at columns (an afterhours club). we were both standing on the perimeter as a remixed version of phil collins' "in the air tonight" and thinking we had been shapeshifted into dullsville. we both looked directly at each other. one couldn't help but notice that he was wearing the most peculiar lime green pompom hat. i asked him about it and he told me it was actually a scottish purse that he had repurposed (21st century word- sorry- but it works here). i laughed and he told me that he was a member of a scottish bagpipe band. i asked if he was scottish and he said no- he was german. i was to determine later that it was probably the opportunity to wear kilts and the outdoor party that attracted him. we closed columns that night and walked the 60 blocks or so from downtown back up to boystown along the lakefront. we talked about people we knew, music, our own stories, and the stories of others. we talked about growing up, about parties, and about life.

we became fast and fantastic friends, even roomates for awhile. we have remained friends over the years, travelled to europe together one summer. his father used to live in denver for a short while and blue would visit regularly. blue's father was gay also, and there are some wild and wonderful stories there, too. especially the ones in which his father worked as a masseuse in a very large and posh chicago health club. handjobs for the stars.... and he came to visit when i lived in san francisco as well. he was the best houseguest i had, as he couldn't wait to explore the muni system to get around.

one of the more memorable nights for me was the halloween party medusa had just before he opened the club. it was in a car showroom, and we called it "pull up to the bumper" named of course after the grace jones song of that name. there were classic cars rented for the occasion and we had all dressed that year. if i remember correctly, we were all wearing skirts for some reason or other. maybe it was the edie sedgwick party, i cannot truly recall. none of us had much money, but we did have imaginations. imaginaiton and intelligence was all a boy needed to make it work. i do know that party and that dressup began a long fascination of wearing them for me. i continued that phase for the next 4 or 5 years or so. i remember liking to twirl in them, but not liking the draft... and finding out from so many that i had nice legs.

so when he sent that email, i didn't miss a beat getting in step with his memories. there are shared memories of that music, that joie de vivre, those dance hall days.
can't change 'em, and wouldn't if i could.

sidenote: there is a group on facebook called medusa's on sheffield which i belong to. this particular club personifies the peak of my clubbing days in chicago. ask anyone from that city who is around my age or younger, and they'll tell you about that club. it was more than just a dance hall as so many of them are. the saint, the probe, studio 54, heaven. they are more than clubs. more like a rite of passage. i love that facebook seems to have touching and reconnecting so many hearts and minds.

so sit back and hava listen to a tiny glimpse of my dance hall days. today's sound choice is cheryl lynn with "star love" (definitely worth a listen)




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Naval Langa

Sheria said...

I so enjoyed your trip down memory lane and the soundtrack of your life. I am never disappointed in the power of music to take me to another place and time and let me recapture, no matter how fleetingly, some piece of myself that I thought gone. I also love your observation about the draft when wearing a skirt. As I walked from the parking lot to my office one morning this week, when the temp was 28 degrees, I kept wishing that I had worn pants. However, you have a point, skirts are good for twirling. I hadn't thought of Cheryl Lynn in years. I twirled a few times while listening.

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