By Di Chapman
I gotta tell ya. I’ve had such fun planning this column. Every girlfriend and group of girlfriends, has giggled with enthusiasm when I’ve run this idea past them. Even my husband has gotten into it, helping me brainstorm the memories.
And everyone agrees: ladies and gentlemen, we’re a generation who loved (and if you’re like me, still love) to dance. It didn’t matter if we were single, married, dating, engaged, or girl dancing. As ABBA said in “Dancing Queen,” we had the time of our lives. Sure, since then it’s been around the house as we clean and busting moves as best we can at stoplights. But I’m ready to do the real thing again. What have all these years of exercise been for? Yes – I know, I know. There is that vanity factor and that ability to eat mostly guilt-free. But at the top of the list for me is dreaming of dancing with abandon once again.
Come on, let’s hit the floor and get down.
We all knew where the clubs were in the 70s and 80s, and you could find us there every Friday and Saturday night. With the disco of the 70s we ladies wore braless tube tops and halters, spandex tops and pants, and platform shoes. We did our best to recreate Farrah Fawcett’s hairdo. In the 80s, we girls wore dresses with ultra-padded shoulders, Dynasty big hair, and spike heels – of a dancing size. If we wore the 6” spikes of today, we’d be severely limited in movement, and we all loved to move – a lot. And I don’t mean standing in one spot bouncing up and down with one fist in the air. Seriously? When did that become moving to music? Where’s the bootie action? Where’s the seductive eye contact?
By the way, all ye progeny, we brought you the birth of the DJ. There was nothing like a great DJ spinning tunes. Just add flashing lights, a disco ball, Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling.” I remember the heavy beat of The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” and Heart’s Wilson sisters belting out red, hot voices, guitar, and techno vibes. “He’s a magic man, Mama…Oooohhhhh…he got the magic hands.” And who could forget the dance floor favorite “Stayin’ Alive?”
Oh, and my goodness, that amazingly great 80s scene. By now, y’all know I was pretty much into driving all over the place and loved crossing the Mexican border at Tijuana to cruise south on an exceptionally manicured highway to Rosarito on into Ensenada. Ladies – surprise, surprise! This highway had clean as a whistle rest stops. It was a beautiful ride alongside the Pacific Ocean in Baja California. Ensenada was an awesome dancing town. Marines with time off drove down from Camp Pendleton in Southern California to hit the clubs, and we California women were happy to be their dancing partners. We’d dance all night to American tunes, with DJs spinning hot material. I was always the designated driver, and I toted home girlfriends in front and back seats at one or two in the morning, all of us swapping stories about the men. We became regulars at the Tijuana border crossing, an hour or so from home at the time.
Those dance rides were followed by, mostly on a whim, my solo trips to Mexico City and San Luis, Mexico. Why not? I discovered that Hispanic men seriously loved to dance. The dance floors overflowed, and DJs played one hot tune after another. I never sat down in either town. Those guys rocked it.
Naturally, I have my favorite dance artists. I can’t lie. I was a huge Billy Idol fan. To this day when I hear “White Wedding,” it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m in motion. I’ll cop to something else. I dig Boston. “More Than a Feeling” gets me moving. As does Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.” Patti LaBelle’s set of pipes still reign to this day, with no current female artist coming close to her vocal power. Remember doing a come hither sashay to “Lady Marmalade?” We girls did some serious strutting along with Patti.
And remember those, shall we say, party-inspired tunes like Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” and Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug?” Huey Lewis and the News’ retro sound specialized in good, old-fashioned get up and dance beats. Loved it. Jefferson Airplane’s tune “White Rabbit,” while from the 60s, still had us singing along. Whoa, and the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues” both bring me to my feet. Boys and girls, your moms and dads were party animals. Most of us partied for the music, not substances. I liked moving and grooving to my favorite songs with a clear head. Oh, and by the way, you kids ain’t got nothin’ on us in the partying department. We invented it!!
I went to YouTube the other day to find a skit from Saturday Night Live from the 80s. It featured a song with the words “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” It was a great dance tune with a skit by the SNL cast featuring three young men out cruising, one of whom was Jim Carrey. They’re blasting this song while they drive and bob their heads to the beat, sideways and in unison. It’s right up there for laughs with “More Cowbell” with Christopher Walken. I typed “Saturday Night Live Head Bob” online. There it was, and I danced and laughed again and again.
So, somebody, help me! Help me here. Where have all the good clubs gone? Who’s spinning “Billy Jean” and “Flashdance?” Who’s featuring Madonna? Where’s Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You?” I wanna know, and I wanna go.
Ladies! Girls’ dance, anyone? I’ll drive!
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at firstname.lastname@example.org