soul train line circa 1970s

once i started watching i couldn’t stop (hence all the video posts)! 

it all started with rosie perez on wendy yesterday referencing some dance she did in do the right thing.  when wendy asked if rosie expected the dance to be so iconic, she said, “no.  it came from when i was on soul train and they wanted me to hip hop dance in high heels and i’d never done it before.  i panicked and wound up with the move that i brought to do the right thing.”  i searched for her do the right thing dance, and clicked on some soul train videos that popped up in the search.  my immediate response was a grounded in the gut, heartfelt YES. 

not like i’d never seen them before, but i began to wonder… had my mom exposed me in the womb?  how young was i when i learned that this was the most pure essense of dancing for me? 

an anecdote from my earlier social dance life: 

a guy asked me to dance at the 90s on the little hip hop floor.  i’d always get nervous when guys asked me to dance because i don’t wanna grind.  i wanna dance.  i said yes, nonetheless.  after a few mins, he said to me, “i’m sorry, i can’t do this, you dance just like my mom.  no hard feelings.  i just can’t do it.”  not offended at all, i kept dancing the way i wanted to. 

for me, dancing is a pure, joyful, creative, expression of the soul.  it’s not about anything else,  it’s a deeply fulfilling, sometimes out of body experience.  and couples dancing is about being clever, each dancer doing something that mimics or complements the other.  by far i prefer to dance alone.  or as my friend wes once noticed, “when lola asks you to dance, she doesn’t want you to dance with her, she wants you to dance next to her.”  exactly. 

there’s something specific to the dancers in the soul train line from the 70s in general, earlier 70s in particular.  it’s that joyfull expression, that freedom, that fun. the abandon, and goofiness.  not overly sexy like it got in the 80s (everything got sexier in the 80s).  get past some of the clothes that didn’t become acceptably retro and see into the eyes and the expression.  here’s where i’m making a leap that i’d like to check out for accuracy:  was it a sign of the times?  how did what was going on in history affect this kind of dancing, in my mind the world’s most perfect dancing?  it was different than the dancing of the 60s and 80s.  there’s style but what else?  it makes me wanna do a research project.  i’m such a nerd. 

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5 thoughts on “soul train line circa 1970s

  1. You dance like my mom?!?!! That is priceless! You do such a good job articulating everything I also feel about dancing. Freedom, fun, goofiness, abandon, joyful! Exactly! I have never thought about how dancing styles have changed over the decades. It is really fascinating to think about.Please do a research paper!!

  2. Um, I’m going to have to disagree about couples dancing being clever or not as soulful. Just because I love to play devils advocate and challenge you a little bit. You know I hate grinding and don’t like to dance with strange men in clubs. I don’t really know how to couples dance. But I wonder if we opened up to a more collaborative, interactive dancing experience if dancing with someone could be just as soulful. As long as it wasn’t all about trying to get laid. I’m not saying I’m comfortable with it, but we didn’t grow up in a culture with couples dancing, like certain latino countries. I know you went through a phase where you got into latin styles of couples dancing, Lola. It seems like the connection between two people, even strangers on a physical non-verbal level to be able to dance together would be pretty special. Thoughts?

  3. oooh, i never saw comments before! yes, re-reading it just now, i take that back about all couples dancing needing to be clever and playful, maybe i just mean in the soul train line. i definitely believe in couples dancing that is soulful and develops connection. case in point latin dancing, yes! one of the reasons i loved it so much when i got used to it has to do with how differently you dance with each partner. i remember with my old boyfriend benny, we could dance practically by our fingertips, it was so lovely and intuitive. and some men were terrible at it (and those men i have a lot of trouble respecting). there are different levels of compatibility and connection with couples dancing, i didn’t really mean to ignore it. thank you for the reminder, natasha!

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