Liza May

Desert City 2014 Update #5 – Fanny-Pack Spins! Remote Control Cars! The Wave!

What is it about the 80′s?

There’s something life-affirming about the 80′s!

The workout clothes, the big hair, the loud colors. And most of all the MUSIC!

I heard there were worries at Desert Swing about playing an entire night of 80′s music. Maybe the young people wouldn’t know the songs, wouldn’t be able to relate.

WOW! That is one worry that can be put to rest! Holy Mackerel! People LOVE 80′s music, if Saturday night was any indication!

With Ronnie on the mic (as Richard Simmons! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!) Saturday night was definitely the highlight of Desert City this year. A night of glee and audience participation the likes of which I’ve not seen anywhere I can remember.

And by that I mean an entire ballroom – I am not exaggerating – singing along, EVERY WORD to EVERY 80′s SONG, from 7am till the upper level comps began at 10. Three hours straight of bouncing jumping joyful insanity.

Everybody waving their hands in the air! Singing every song – all the lyrics by heart! When “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” came on everybody was so beside themselves they were jumping up and down like maniacs, waving their hands in the air, SHOUTING the words!

So many sappy singalongs – we needed lighters!

Ronnie had a lighter.

I mean, honestly, Saturday night was something, a phenomenon.

Epic, as they say nowadays. Legendary. Kickass.

I’ve never seen a ballroom this excited, actually jumping on the chairs, swaying and singing along to every song, literally jumping up and down to the beat like fourth graders in line for the tilt-a-whirl snorting Pepsi. Doing “The Wave” back and forth across the ballroom, multiple times.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a ballroom in this crazed, euphoric condition in like, ever. It was transcendent, a spiritual celebration, like a Camp Meeting.

It’s like these 80′s songs are anthems. Everyone’s secret favorites, songs they’ve grown up loving, guilty pleasures, and we had a mass reveal. Even kids! Kids not conceived until 30 years later! Even they knew all the words!

Why is that? What IS it about 80′s music that so transports people?

Gotta hand it to the deejays!

Most of all gotta hand it to newcomer Emily Meyers Reed whose music was inspired. She played for Novice, Intermediate, and Masters, songs so great she had dancers and audience delirious, ready to explode from excitement.

A mix was nothing short of brilliant.

Note! To event directors, deejays, anyone who runs dances at home! If you want to excite a dance floor – HOLY MACKEREL! – 80′s music is your ticket! It’s magic!

Here’s what Emily played for Novice, Intermediate, and Masters Strictlys on Saturday night:

“Give Me The Night” (George Benson)

“Shake You Down” (Gregory Abbot)

“Power of Love” (Huey Lewis)

“Addicted To Love” (Robert Palmer)

“Do That To Me One More Time” (Captain and Tennille)

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (Cyndi Lauper) (omg the ballroom LOST IT)

Kiss” (Prince) (No Prince videos on internets. “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” won’t allow videos. But here is a muffled version of the track for as long as it lasts, with choreography that’s not half bad)

Cherish” (Kool and The Gang)

“Let’s Hear It For The Boy” (Deniece Williams)

(OMG! THIS SONG! WHO KNEW? I stood up and looked at the ballroom and it was weird – no seats were filled – it was chaos, groupings of people in headbands and leg warmers and big hair, all standing on top of each other it seemed, sitting on each others’ shoulders, everyone standing, waving, shouting, dancing near their chairs, every word to this song! From one far end of the ballroom to the other everyone was standing, energy bouncing off the walls. CRAZY!)

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (Starship) THE WAVING! WE NEEDED LIGHTERS!

“Word Up” (Cameo)

“One Night In Bangkok” (Murray Head)

“Another Day In Paradise” (Phil Collins)

“Double Dutch Bus” (Frankie Smith)

Here’s Ruby’s mix for Advanced/Allstar:

“Home USA” (Fats Domino)

“I Thank You” (Sam & Dave)

“Just The Kind Of Man I Am” (Mike Morgan and the Crawl)

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder)

“Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye)

“Got To Give It Up” (Marvin Gaye)

“Another One Bites The Dust” (Queen)

“Black Velvet” (Alannah Myles)

“Funkytown” (Lipps Inc)

“Just Got Paid” (Johnny Kemp)

“Slow Walk” (Sil Austin)

“Celebration” (Kool & The Gang)

“She’s A Bad Mama Jama” (Carl Carlton)

“I Can’t Wait” (Nu Shooz)

“Super Freak” (Rick James)

Did I mention, Jake and Bella wore underwear? That’s right, white undies. And white men’s dress shirts. Everybody but me recognized the costume right away as Tom Cruise’s “Risky Business.” Because EVERYBODY knows EVERYTHING about the 80′s!

Ronnie’s only comment: “Oh Dear.”

Here is Sean Jessup’s mix for All-American:

“You’ve Got To Move” (Lou Rawls)

“Sugar Sugar” (Archies)

“Slow Walk” (Sil Austin)

“Come See About Me” (The Supremes)


Champions are, um, a little difficult to deejay for. That’s putting it nicely. They are demanding, opinionated, impossible. Artists. Insufferable perfectionists. They can’t stand other people using the wrong color in their paintings.

Poor Ruby. It was Ruby’s job to play for Champions. aughghghghghgh! I sympathize.

Here’s what she chose for Champion Strictly Prelims:

“My Perogative” (Bobby Brown)

“Come Together” (Michael Jackson)

“When Doves Cry” (Prince) (as I said earlier, “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” does not allow videos. So instead, here is one of about 1,000 covers on youtube. This one, by “The Artist Currently Known As Risto,” is the most, one might say, “heartfelt.” )

And here’s what Ruby played for Champion Strictly Finals:

  1. Kyle and Tatiana, “Pump Up The Jam” (Technotronic) – Tatiana should have been born in the 80′s, she is an 80′s girl, through and through. Saturday night she was in her element in blue short short hot pants, yellow leg-warmers, sweatband, wrist bands, and sneakers. Kyle in a purple hat (backwards of course,) jeans vest, and a boom box the size of a Pontiac Trans Am. (On “get your booty on the floor tonight, make my day” they both fell to the floor, dancing across the floor while down on the floor.) Body rolls, 80′s hands, Flash Dance, arm waves, and Tatiana doing a one-handed pushup better than Jack Palance.
  2. Benji and Brandi, “Give It To Me Baby” (Rick James) – All in black, beginning with Benji slapping her face for an entire phrase, to the beat, Brandi’s head whooshing back, forth, whop, whop, whop hair flying. The speed of their footwork, their knees, the fluidity, rghghghghgh impossible makes me want to give up entirely I will never do that ever it’s not in my genetic code I can’t even see that fast.
  3. Maxime and Torri, “Wild Thing” (Tone Loc) Torri in marvelously loud flowered leggings, hot pink leg warmers, shoulder-baring leopard crop-top under a SHINY METALLIC GOLD body suit! And belt, of course. Belts are 80′s. Oh, and shades. Maxime in gray tank and sweatband. Oh my gosh they’re so dang fluid, whirly, smooshy, connected. Both of them technique so mind-boggling every single step, movement, is perfect and looks simple. Simple whips, passes, pushes are works of art. No fancy tricks or surprises in this dance, just gorgeous swing at its finest. Wish I could watch forever.
  4. Jordan and Sarah, “Nasty Girl” (Vanity 6) – Jordan in a red plaid sleeveless flannel shirt, open to show a white t-shirt, red bandana on his forehead, a perfect iconic Def Leppard shag-mullet, eyeliner, and combat boots. Sarah in black lace tights, a white tutu skirt, white lingerie top, multiple necklaces and armbands, white ankle socks, very Madonna. Jordan was HEE-LARIOUS, extensive vamping and vogueing, head flips, chin to shoulder, coy glances at the audience, girly hands and shoulder whips. He’s pretty good at this, maybe a little too good. He’d be perfect in KISS. I love Jordan and Sarah together, the length of their slot always amazes me, the expanse of their stretch, how they move across the floor, the smoothness.
  5. Christopher and Jen, “Bust A Move” (Young MC) – Jen in gray legwarmers, blue sleeveless tank, and her ADORABLE new short asymmetric haircut with one side always doing a sexy dance in front of an eye. Jen was a bright spot all weekend, laughing every time I saw her on the floor and off, relaxed, happy, bouncy, in casual clothes and comfy shoes, she seemed “herself,” hip, cute and gorgeous fun dancing all weekend long. Chris was in red sneaks and neon yellow legwarmers, purple sweats, a yellow hoody hanging on his waist, sleeveless white T, and a bandana. On “… just bust a move …” Jen goes down into a pot-stirrer with Chris spinning her while simultaneously circling around her, then he lifts a leg over her head while spinning her. My favorite part of this dance was some ultra cool footwork thing Jen did at the end, like a moon-walk while turning and while circling around him, which she accelerated and decelerated to the music. I’m sure there’s a name for this thing. Maybe not – Jen’s always make up cool stuff like this.
  6. Myles and Tessa, “Parking On The Dance Floor” (Midnight Star) – Myles in a pair of those famously awful loose pants with the crotch down below your knees – “Harem Pants” I think they’re called – he wore his with high-tops, a black T and long brown vest. Tessa had huge curly hair, black boots, ripped jeans, a hot pink totally ripped shredded tank top, and black leather jacket. So funny – they looked authentic. Beautiful dancing, as always.
  7. Arjay and Melissa, “PYT” (Michael Jackson) – Arjay in a hot pink golf shirt, black sweater tied on his shoulders preppy style, chinos and boaters, very WASP-y; Melissa in a black lace top, strings of pears, huge black side-bow in her hair, gray jeans, and black boots. So fun to see Arjay and Melissa dance together, and always so beautiful.
  8. Michael Kielbasa and Alyssa, “U Got The Look” (Prince) – Alyssa in flaming pink high-wasted tights topped with black hot pants, a black bikini top under sleeveless cropped jeans jacket, and combat boots. Kielbasa in sleek black jeans, and sleeker black leather jacket. And a remote-controlled car which he kept letting loose to zoom across the floor. At the end of their dance he reaches into his pocket where I guess he’s been carrying the remote and just as they’re finishing their bows, turning to return to their seats, out comes the car zooming into Alyssa’s legs, JUST MISSING tripping her, making her fall and kill herself. Funny idea but maybe not great on a dance floor. I wonder how many guys in the audience were sitting in their chairs with nothing on their minds but that car, exerting extreme self-control to keep from rushing up grabbing the remote and making the car go everywhere. It’s like a guy chew-toy.
  9. Kris Swearingen and Kellese, “Funky Cold Medina” (Tone Loc) – Both Kris and Kellese in totally late-summer, 2014 casual. Like maybe they hadn’t realized they made finals. Gorgeous dancing but suddenly the music skipped and then died. Kellese lay on the floor, then jumped back up, they danced a few bars to silence, Ronnie yelled “MICHAEL KIELBASA STOP PLAYING WITH THE REMOTE CONTROL!” a brief discussion with Chief Judge Phil Adams and they decided to give the couple a second go at it. Ronnie said, “You know what happened? It’s the 80′s and the record skipped.” Someone yelled, “Rewind the tape.” Kris did not one but two full splits in this dance.
  10. Parker and Tara, “Let’s Groove Tonight” (Earth, Wind and Fire) – Both Parker and Tara in matching baaaad-ass black sweat suits with white stripes, multiple gold chains, Parker in shades and baseball cap turned backwards, Tara with a big red fanny pack. And ATTITUDE. You were already laughing before they even left their seats cause they were owning it, they walked out owning it.

Both posing with arms folded and attitude as the music intro starts,

Then they do a series of “Wassup?” gestures at each other,

Then the vocal line comes in “… let’s groove tonight…” and they suddenly both go CRAZY flailing their heads in hysterical wild jerking and thrashing like crazy people, pumping and throwing their arms like they both got stung by bees. SO FUNNY.

Then Parker turns around, bends over, gives her two butt bumps.

And then proper dancing begins.

That’s how they handled the beginning of their song! hahahaha

They’ve got you. They had you the minute they got up from their seats. At this point you’re laughing at anything, whips and side passes are cracking you up just because their faces.

And then just as your fit of giggles starts to die down, just when you’re thinking whew okay I can breathe again, Parker raises on hand to lift Tara’s arm for a pirouette, with his other hand grabs her big red fanny pack, and SPINS HER INSIDE HER FANNY PACK for, like, I don’t know, an hour. OMGAWD so so so so funny! Both of them are so funny, their faces hahahahahaha

At the end they’re doing this rocking/walking thing across the floor – they’re not connected it’s a breakaway – moving across the floor in tandem rocking forward to the beat, rocking backward to the beat, forward, backward … except it’s not actually in tandem it’s more “he goes / she goes” … which evidently Parker, a touch OCD, doesn’t like, so he puts his finger up to say “wait” then “okay now go” and they start up again except now it actually is in tandem. Hahahahaha Parker being controlling on the dance floor, laughing, himself, at himself being himself.

Tara bows at the end but stands up with four strands of gold chains stuck hanging from her nose and just she stands there, arms crossed, being badass, with four gold chains hanging from her nose.

Sean and Courtney, “You Shook Me All Night Long” (AC/DC) – Courtney channeling Annie Lennox in tan chinos, graphic patterned man-tailored blouse, and loafers; Sean channeling some very rich, very handsome beau of some very lucky dame, in slacks and suit jacket tan to match Courtney’s chinos. What a beautiful couple, these two. Music starts, Sean takes off his jacket and starts whipping it around in the air, by mistake whops Courtney in the head sending her face and hair flying, very funny, they start laughing along with everybody else. Gorgeous dancing.

And the final All-Skate to “Sexual Healing” (Marvin Gaye) and “Think” (Aretha Franklin)

What a night!

Filed Under: Desert City

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