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Jazzercise takes on Sid Vicious. Nobody wins
08:45 am


Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious

The biggest-selling single the Sex Pistols ever put out wasn’t “Anarchy in the U.K.” or “God Save the Queen” or “Pretty Vacant” or “Holidays in the Sun”—it was “Something Else,” a cover of an Eddie Cochran hit from 1959 with Sid Vicious on lead vocals that was released more than a year after the breakup of the band—and three weeks after Vicious’ death on February 2, 1979.

Americans probably aren’t very familiar with Legs & Co., an all-female dance troupe that used to brighten up the proceedings on Top of the Pops in the late 1970s. The U.S. equivalent would be the Solid Gold Dancers.

Sometime during its run in the Top 10 of the U.K. charts, Top of the Pops managed to convince Legs & Co. to do a sort of Jane Fonda/jazzercise routine to the song. The over-abundance of spandex, the nice shiny colors in the leotards and wigs—not to mention the strange approximation of a stock market chart in the set design—it all makes this clip seem a kind of harbinger for the shiny and materialistic 1980s that were just around the corner, even if nobody knew it.

At the outset you can hear the closing strains of Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army.”

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pee-wee Herman and pal strut their stuff as ‘Suave & Debonair’ on ‘The Gong Show,’ 1979
11:44 am


The Gong Show
Pee-wee Herman

Paul Reubens invented his primary character Pee-wee Herman one night in 1977 while he was performing with The Groundlings. Reubens was having trouble remembering lines for the sketches, so he developed a character who was funny in a free-floating way that wasn’t dependent on dialogue. In Prime Time, Prime Movers: From I Love Lucy to L.A. Law—America’s Greatest TV Shows and the People Who Created Them, David Marc and Robert J. Thompson claim that The Gong Show represented Pee-wee’s first appearance on national television, but I’m actually not sure they mean Reubens or the Pee-wee character.

According to the NNDB website, Reubens “loved” The Gong Show and appeared on it fifteen times as various characters. On this occasion Reubens and longtime collaborator John Paragon were playing a silly dancing duo called “Suave & Debonair.” Paragon later played Jambi the Genie on Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

How do they dance on their toes like that??

via Televandalist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Exotic dancers of the 1890s
01:52 pm


exotic dancers

I love these photographs dated around 1890 of popular burlesque performers in their heyday. What you notice immediately is how different they look from today’s standards of exotic dancers. No breast implants, collagen injections, butt implants, lip injections, cheek implants, liposuction and this damned list could go on and on…. Of course those options didn’t exist back then, so who really knows if any of these women would have opted to surgically change themselves.

I just dig these specific women who are totally comfortable in their own natural skin whilst celebrating their beauty, femininity and sexuality. They’re refreshing.




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Harlem Renaissance dancer who’s 102 years old sees herself on film for the very first time
09:27 am


Alice Barker


How did it feel seeing yourself?

Alice Barker: Making me wish I could get out of this bed, and do it all over again.

I don’t care if this is plastered all over the Internet today, it deserves to be here on Dangerous Minds, too. Alice Barker, a 102-year-old chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance sees herself on film for the very first time. It’s a touching and beautiful thing to witness.

She danced at clubs such as The Apollo, Cotton Club, and Zanzibar Club, with legends including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

Although she danced in numerous movies, commercials and TV shows, she had never seen any of them, and all of her photographs and memorabilia have been lost over the years.

If you want to send Alice any fan mail, the mailing address for her is below. She deserves the adoration.

Alice Barker
c/o Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Nursing Home
835 Herkimer Street
Brooklyn, NY11233

via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Krumpety Sax: Tommy the Clown and hardcore krumpers get Benny-Hillified
05:55 am


yakety sax

If you’ve never seen David LaChapelle’s eye-popping 2005 documentary on “krumping” and “clown dancing,” Rize, then you should absolutely drop whatever it is you’re doing and watch that film right now.

Rize documents an early 2000s aggressive style of battle-dance, popularized in South Central Los Angeles, which is a hardcore fusion of tribal, slam, stripper, and break dancing. There were two factions at the time using different forms of the dance, known as “krumpers” and Tommy the Clown‘s “clown dancers.”

Tommy the Clown with his dancers
It just so happens that this aggressive style of fast-breaking generally tends to synch up pefectly with Boots Randolph’s signature tune “Yakety Sax,” which is better known as the theme to The Benny Hill Show.

Popular ‘70s British pervert, Benny Hill
The Internet has asserted for years that “Yakety Sax” supposedly makes everything funny, but in the case of these krumpers and clown dancers, it makes a sort of musical sense in creating a totally new reality, separate from what is normally associated with this style of dancing or this particular musical trope. It just fits in a bizarro world kind of way.

If you care to experiment with adding “Yakety Sax” to dance videos yourself, there is the amazing online BennyHillifier, which will allow you to waste hours of time adding the Benny Hill Show theme to absolutely anything you can think of.

In the meantime, get down to these hardcore street dancers going off to some brutal Boots Randolph yaketing.

Yakety Tommy the Clown and his clown dancers:

More yakety krumpers after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Dazzle Dancin’: Your new favorite best/worst 80’s white people dance video
05:38 am


white people
Rick Dees

A few years ago I was grabbing stacks of tapes at a video store liquidation sale and managed to stumble upon what would become one of the best single-dollar purchases I’ve ever made. Straight out of the “special interest” section, and directly into your brain, comes Dazzle Dancin’, a direct-to-VHS, cocaine-fueled nightmare of ultra-stiff moves hosted by an out-of-touch, middle-aged, creeposaur. Dazzle Dancin’, as an artifact, is simultaneously dated and timeless.

In 1984 some genius director hired goofball moron DJ, Rick Dees, of “Disco Duck” fame, to host what is quite possibly the worst instructional dance program ever committed to videotape. Never mind the fact that Dees obviously has no rhythm or dancing ability whatsoever, he’ll certainly be able to carry the show on his winning charisma alone, right? Right?

Dazzle Dancin’ was to be the first in a series that never made it past the pilot, and you’ll see why. In 1984, it would have been tough to go wrong with a vehicle cashing in on the success of MTV, break-dancing, and Flashdance, but Dazzle Dancin’ manages to get it as wrong as you possibly can.

Despite a diverse cast, the moves in Dazzle Dancin’ are painfully white. Rick Dees’ lone dance move is a sort of disinterested sway that seems to be his go-to, whether he’s learning about “breaking” or “punkin’” or “The ET”—which has to be seen to be believed.

In one segment, Dees meets a group of kids outside of the club who teach him about “street dancing” and perform a (terrible) rap, which inspires the ol’ Rickster to do some “rapping” of his own when he gets back inside the club. Let’s just say rapping is even less of a strong-suit than his dancing.

Dees has some really bad non-sequitur one-liners in this thing like “hurt me baby, make me write bad checks,” and “I wish I could talk like that guy on the street but I think I spent too much time on the freeway,” (???) and can we talk about that Chess King close-out shirt he’s wearing? Too much.

Intrigued? Of course you are, watch Dazzle Dancin after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Step away from the glow stick: Cybergoths rave to ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ theme song
11:52 am



A few years ago, a bunch (a gaggle? a band? a flashmob?) of cybergoth kids met beneath a bridge underpass for an impromptu daytime dance party. They went viral. Little did they know, in an alternate future universe, they were really waving their glow sticks to the whimsical theme song of Thomas the Tank Engine, that accursed kiddie show which parents despise almost as much as Barney.

The world is about to make a whole lot more sense:

(Does this mean that cyber-everything is dead?)

via reddit

Posted by Rusty Blazenhoff | Leave a comment
Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead’s unrealized ballet

Though The Sea Lion, Ken Kesey’s tale based on the mythology of the Northwest Coast Indians, wound up as a children’s book, the author originally intended it to be a three-part rock ballet scored by the Grateful Dead. Kesey discussed his vision for the ballet with Old Dominion University’s student newspaper during a 1982 visit to Virginia:

He says he has just spent all of last year researching Northwest Indian myths. The author wants to write a ballet featuring the Indian legends, and have the music written and performed by rock group the Grateful Dead. “I want the Dead to write the music and score for an orchestra,’’ Kesey explains, “and put the Dead down in the orchestra pit where they belong! The Dead are the best!”

The Greatful Dead traveled with Kesey to the site of the Indian rituals, where they saw the rites performed by the Kwakutl, Tlingit, and Hiada Indian tribes. Kesey wants the Dead to do the ballet because “They won’t be remembered unless they do something permanent.”

Kesey says the performers are enthused about the project, and that Bill Graham, the rock promoter, is very interested in staging the production. Kesey doesn’t want the ballet to be just another rock performance, or rock “opera.” He wants it to be something special and lasting.

The ballet will be called ‘The Sea Lion,” and will concern a boy who finds a magic amulet of god. Later, the boy must contend with magical powers and the designs of necromancers.

Kesey believes the ballet would be a success, and would preserve the mythology of the Indians as well as returning the sense of story and art to people.

“I’d love to see Baryshnikov do it!” Kesey laughs.

Given the personalities involved and the size of the undertaking, it is perhaps not too surprising that this ambitious project was never realized—at least, not with the Dead’s participation. The Sea Lion wasn’t dramatized until 2002, the year after Kesey’s death, when a Chicago-area YMCA staged a production.

In the news clip below, the Dead get back on the bus with Kesey to learn about the folklore of the Northwest Coast Indians at the Lelooska Foundation in Ariel, Washington. It all starts to make a lot of sense as soon as you see the masks.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Jim Morrison ballet: Love Me Tutu Times
12:52 pm


Jim Morrison
Leipzig Ballet

Last year Germany’s Leipzig Ballet performed Jim Morrison choreographed by Mario Schröder. Described as “a journey to find this man, wandering through his biography, his thoughtful poetry and his music,” the ballet does look like a trip of some kind, one that I’d like to see in full.

For the time being, one must settle for this short preview which looks like what might happen if you took Ken Russell, Hair, Chippendales and Bob Fosse, tossed them into a blender with a few peyote buttons, drank it, and then went swimming in the dancing fountains of the Bellagio Hotel.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Fred Astaire goes disco with his cover of Carly Simon’s ‘Attitude Dancing,’ 1975
08:16 am


Carly Simon
Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire may have been the most talented man ever to appear regularly on Hollywood screens. He was an extraordinary dancer and choreographer, certainly a decent enough comic actor, and (at least according to Mel Tormé, who knew a thing or two about singing) the greatest singer in the world as well. Part of what made Astaire such an effective singer is that his vocal instrument was not particularly good, so he had to compensate for that with technique and expression. The story has often been told of RKO’s early verdict on him (at the time he was doing very well on Broadway): “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.” Time would quickly prove that a preposterous judgment of Astaire’s skills.

None of that made it easier for Astaire to weather the 1970s, when he himself was in his seventies. He did, of course, appear in a palpable hit when he was one of the many luminaries to deal with a blazing skyscraper in 1974’s The Towering Inferno. The 1970s are littered with disco covers of seemingly everything, from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the Star Wars theme to Pink Floyd, the theme from M*A*S*H, and Ethel Merman. To his credit, Astaire was on that train early, recording the entirety of Attitude Dancing (the album) in the summer of 1975.

The original song, which appeared on Carly Simon’s Playing Possum and hit #21 on the Billboard charts, was released in April 1975, so Fred was seeking to cover a song that was brand-new. It may have still been on the charts when he cut the track.

As cringeworthy disco covers by oldsters go, this one isn’t too bad. As soon as Fred’s vocals enter the track, one experiences that unmistakable sinking feeling of knowing that this is all wrong, but he does a pretty creditable job with the chorus, which helps salvage things. (His mastery of vocal technique came in handy but the basic inexpressiveness of his voice in his mid-seventies is insurmountable.) It’s unclear whether he was transfixed by the word dancing, but it probably wasn’t the best material to be undertaking—even the original is just “eh.”  Oh yeah: here’s the original:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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