A Valentine to KOFY’s Dance Party
When I was fifteen, the best guy friend, Warrior, and I (or sometimes the best girl friends and I) had a Saturday night ritual. We’d begin our phone conversation around 7:30ish and then make sure the TV was set to Channel 20. I could often be found in my parents’ bedroom because though the screen was only about 36 inches, I could sit or lie on the bed and talk on the preferred cream-colored rotary phone, its long cord coiled around my arm like a snake. At 8pm, Dance Party began. It was a local TV show featuring dancers of all ages and walks of life, dressed in their best 50s attire and swing dancing with palpable joy. We would laugh at some of the outfits or dance moves, engage in running commentary, and state our wish to be on the show someday. At least I did.
I have always loved to dance. From four years of dance before high school to the five-plus years as a San Francisco club kid, dancing has been one of my passions. So when my brother texted me details for the inaugural taping of the returning KOFY TV’s Dance Party last December, I was thrilled. I literally gave a little shriek and started to review a mental checklist of local thrift stores. Feeling guilty about leaving a then-two-year-old M for a full day, I changed my mind at the last minute and instead made plans to go in January. Nine episodes later, I can proudly say I have made my wish to be on Dance Party a reality.
Recently, a young blogger from Uptown Almanac, a site with the tagline “Where 20-Somethings Go to Retire” (somehow my mind remembered that as “Where Hipsters Go to Die”), wrote a snarky blog publicizing the most recent taping. http://uptownalmanac.com/tags/power-and-majesty-danceIn her piece, she calls the show’s dancers “morbidly obese, incredibly unattractive, or on MDMA of some type.” As you can imagine, the Dance Party faithful on Facebook had several reactions ranging from outrage and indignation to disinterest. As for me, blogger that I am, I reacted with both curiosity and annoyance. Curious because her thoughts were those of an outsider. Annoyed because I immediately began to evaluate myself on the three criteria she established. BMI unhealthy? Check. Not cute? Okay, I’ve been told my indigenous features render me non-photogenic, but that’s because the mainstream can’t handle my kind of beauty. High on drugs? Nope, not even when I was running around the Endup or 177 Townsend in the late 90s, have I ever partaken, at least not of any non-organic substance.
Is being on KOFY TV’s Dance Party part of being in a “hilarious train wreck”? My answer is HELL YES. I have no “delusions of grandeur.” I have never been interviewed or been a contestant in any of the games for prizes. I haven’t been to every taping like some of the regulars. I’m not on the show for the spotlight, though I love when my high school students refer to my appearances, and especially when M proudly cheers, “There’s my mommy!” The outfits, the dance moves, and especially, the behind-the-scenes behavior often make me feel like I’m on a mash up of a Fellini film and a reality show, all surreal weirdness and occasional drama. But that’s what makes it an only-in-San-Francisco experience. And most importantly, it’s dancing!
*Come join the fun! Details for the February taping: