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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

karaoke queen, young and sweet, only seventeen

Since the disco era at least, pop music has constructed the dancefloor as a special place. It's a place where the cares of life melt away and one can feel, palpably in one's body, one's dreams coming true, though, of course, the feeling only endures on the dancefloor.

Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes (featuring Sir Monti Rock III) were early theorists of the dancefloor back in 1974 with their classic disco hit Get Dancin':

'Come on, do your thing.
Dance your dance.
Do all those hips I remember.
I'm your friendly disc jockey trying to tell you,
It's time to get dancing, baby,
You can't think of all the wrong and all the wrong of the world,
You can't think of all the bad things you do,
You just keep on keep dancing,
Put out your mind,
Be happy and love yourself while you're dancing.'

The dancefloor was a carefree, pagan space, and if there was any shame to be had, it was the 'Shame, Shame, Shame' of not dancing, as Shirley & Company instructed the world later that same year.

The dancefloor was also accessible to all, freed from hierarchies of class or privilege, unlike, say, the ballet studio or symphony hall. The only obstacle was one's own inhibitions, which KC & The Sunshine Band urged us all to overcome in 1975 in (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty:

'Don't fight it.
Feel it.
Give yourself a chance.
You can.
You can do it
Very well.'

In the twenty-first century, little has changed about the trope of the dancefloor, as we find in Madonna's Music (2000):

'Don't think of yesterday
And I don't look at the clock.
I like to boogie-woogie. Uh, uh.
It's like riding on the wind,
And it never goes away,
Touches everything I'm in,
Got to have it everyday.'

Now, I like to dance as much as the next person, but for me, that special place where I feel carefree and fabulous is the karaoke bar, or, even better, the karaoke studio. Where else could I be praised as 'more Macy Gray than Macy Gray herself'? (Schuyler Henderson, personal communication, Sing Sing Karaoke Bar, Sep. 17, 2006.) My posse and I recently got ourselves into some karaoke combat when we encountered an opposing crew poisoning the climate of freedom and fabulousness that the karaoke regime requires. We had to, as it were, get all up in their business. I don't want to stereotype our opponents. Let's just say that the ultimate blow came when I chose a song I knew would be dear to them, Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin, and massacred it. Oh, the karaoke knives were out that night indeed.

But the bigger thing to notice at work here, both on the dancefloor and at the karaoke bar, is how these spaces affect the once heavily policed boundaries of gender and sexual identification. Stay tuned, reader. There will be more to say about that in the future.


Anonymous Dave said...

Great citation work.

10:08 PM, December 08, 2006

Blogger Jeff Strabone said...

I believe in proper citation, not just to credit one's sources but to empower readers to pursue their curiosity further.


12:03 AM, December 12, 2006


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