Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 The Jackson Sisters “I Believe In Miracles”
 Gwen McCrae “All This Love That I’m Giving (12″ Extended Mix)”
Three guesses what I’ve been up to tonight Grueheads. I’ve been reclaiming my soul. That’s right, the past five hours have been spent finding this elusive tool and milking it for all it’s worth. I know what you’re thinking right now – poor bastard’s gone and grabbed himself a dose of dementia as he’s always harping on about soul. Indeed, it is a favorite topic of mine but, tonight, it was an entirely different strain of soul reacquainting itself. I’m speaking of the groove, the funk, the ants in your pants and the jive in your hive. I’m talking about dancing and that doesn’t equate to an uncomfortable left to right side slide either. There was no “how do I look under these flourescent lights?” and neither was there any “am I pulling a ridiculous face without knowing it?” I was 100% disco, stuffed to the pores with earth, wind and fire, and totally at one with the groove.
The thing is, for the past twenty years, I’ve attempted to convince myself that both of my feet are lefties. The last time I truly felt at ease on the dance floor, I was disguised by strobe lighting, and barely accountable for 50% of my movements. The other fifty fell into darkness and, as a result, I probably looked something like the shit. Little were my audience aware that each time darkness fell, I was missing beats for fun and struggling just to maintain my equilibrium. Strobe made me far cooler than I had any right to claim that I was. Like I said, it’s been a hella long time since I last slipped on my groove sliders and tonight, with a dash of intoxicating alcohol fuelling the pistons, they forgave me for ever having forsaken them. I’d love to claim that I learned to dance this evening but, the truth is, I simply remembered I damn well could.
Now there are numerous ways to bust a groove and none of them are either wrong or right. Whatever works for you is kosher and, should the left to right slide be your only friend, then console yourself in the knowledge that a fair share of the population of the world are in the same boat. It may not seem like it at times as there is invariably always someone at every party who has extensive knowledge of how to pull off a windmill with the requisite panache, but you’re certainly not alone. That is where alcohol comes in and, while it has never been my personal poison of choice, I’ve pretty much got booze’s number. There’s a point in proceedings that is not so clearly signposted THAT OF NO RETURN. Pass that particular beacon and, chances are, within thirty minutes you’ll recall the feeling of being a newborn. Once that boundary has been crossed, it’s game fucking over. If you’re lucky, the vomit will wash out of your favorite silk shirt, and you won’t have made a pass at Auntie Beryl. For the record, Auntie Beryl is the one with more facial growth than an Amish milk maiden. Believe me when I say that some lines are simply better not crossed.
Anyhoots, I’ve kind of sussed the whole alcohol thing and the moment that Auntie Beryl’s gout-ridden ankles start appearing strangely shapely, it’s time to cash in those chips and slow down on the tequila shots. By knowing your enemy, unexpected friendships can then beckon, and you can use each unit of alcohol to your advantage. So how does this all tie in to tonight? Well, allow me to elaborate further. It was my brother-in-law’s surprise 50th birthday and pretty much a family affair. Booze was flowing freely and there were casualties around me, but I pitched my tent in merrily drunk and refused to budge. The master of ceremonies was none other than a certain Colin Hudd and this gentleman provided the soundtrack for my oldest sister’s youth so he was far more than able manning the decks. The music selection consisted mostly of late seventies disco, funk, R&B (not that lame nineties drivel, the real deal), and a smattering of rare grooves just to tickle our pleasure nodes to the hilt.
My brother-in-law just happens to be something of a personal hero to me as, when he first started dating my sister, I hadn’t the vaguest idea about the groove. Back then I was listening to the UK Top 40 religiously every Sunday and believed it to be the almanac. Then he came along and proposed we spend hour after hour in his company car, in which time he would educate me as to where the soul can be located. Under his guidance, I learned my Gwen Guthries from my Gwen McCraes and the groove wasn’t far behind that. Again, taking his cue, I learned how to dance and this involved using every floor tile at your disposal and moving between them of free will. In short, he feels the music when he dances, and does so without any inhibition. Moreover, he pulls that shit off. Considering he is of Caribbean origin, this was no cut-and-dried affair for me. Last time I checked, I’m white and, while skin color shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference, you try telling that your frontal lobe and expecting it to play ball.
If you ever watched Steve Martin in The Jerk, then you should have some idea of how my first few moves played out. I missed more beats than a tone def emu, tripped over my own feet every second step, and likely resembled a poster boy for hemorrhoid lotion. However, practice is reputed to make perfect and, before I knew it, I was ripping up those floor tiles and encouraging groove trains all around me. This is where tonight comes in as I had conveniently forgotten how to pinpoint the groove and spent the first half of the evening a wallflower. Something had to give and this is where alcohol comes in handy as, two fireballs and a tequila later, I had reached my happy plateau. This coincided with the arrival of my solitary musical request – Gwen McCrae’s All This Love That I’m Giving and our deejay dropped it while my palate was still warm from my booster. Suddenly, something began to stir inside me and I had a pretty good idea of what that was. It was the soul, something that had been tucked away for aeons, something that I never expected to be introduced to again. I believe I should drop that shit about here to paint those mental pictures. Hey Mr. DJ, you know what to do.
You’re feeling that right? Fret not if you have a sudden overwhelming urge to start doing the Bus Stop. It’s a killer tune and hearing it tonight provided the very spinach I required. Fuck Olive Oyl, she’s all arms and legs, and I hear she has too much excess skin around her vagina. The music was my mistress and her seduction was fairly all-encompassing. This provided me with a flash of what was to come but I wasn’t quite ready to get my full groove on. Thus I wandered outside to join the smokers congregation and did what I love doing most – I spread the love. There is nothing that pleases me more than to empower another to wear their widest smile and hopefully give them something they will carry with them long after the night is over. Words are my thing and I happen to have found a way of speaking eloquently when perched before my keyboard but, with just enough alcohol to push aside any inhibition, I translated this into passing conversation. However, for as spiritual as this experience was, the groove was getting away from me.
Eventually, I decided to return back inside and headed straight for the dance floor, with additional spring in my step. It was then that I remembered – I can dance. Not just the basics either, I opened up my trunk of funk, sprinkled it with spunk, and owned every floor tile available. You know what? It felt good, real good. For the next ten minutes all ten of my toes were twinkling and I became a conduit for groove. Alas, ten minutes was also the time it took the party of reach its zenith, and I was left pondering what could have been. Sure I relocated my soul, applied it to my bones, and let them act on my behalf. But only for the closing act. I’m not ordinarily one for regrets but I believe “fuck a ducky” were the words circulating my cranium as the lights dimmed. Twenty years in captivity and I somehow managed to find my way home. However, my arrival was too late to take full advantage. While I’m not suggesting that either popping or locking were on the agenda, I certainly had my ticket for the groove train. Now I’m back at home and destined not to dance like that again for the forseeable. Woe is me right?
Actually no as the most important process tonight has been dusting down my soul and giving it a much-needed jump-start. There will be other parties and alcohol is not the hardest of drugs to acquire. By letting myself go a little, something I don’t do enough of, I sparked my very own fuses and that just leaves me battle ready. As the last reverberation of bass subsided, I walked over to our glorious DJ, and uttered four words into his ear. “Stars shine no brighter”. I’m pretty sure he knew what I meant. You see, he had been our pilot, and there is no greater responsibility than that of the person spinning the decks. Alcohol may have played its part in reconfiguring my groove but it was he who ushered it forth with a flawless set that made fifty revelers seem like a hundred. Everyone was a winner and I vacated sporting a smile so wide that my ears touched at the rear.
Dancing is a form of expression and a masterful channel for our innermost joy. Over the past two years, I’ve learned not only how to use prose as my vessel, but also how to apply that passion elsewhere. My first acting role is something that I am immensely proud of as I translated my fervor into something I never dreamed I could excel in. A lifetime of wearing a mask was my savor and I left Los Angeles airport never again to be fearful of the lens. Tonight I crossed another thing off my list as it turns out I can shake a tail feather or two too. How long it will be until I pick up where I left off after my rousing finale isn’t clear but the fuse has been lit and that feels pretty damn good right now. I trust that a good night’s sleep won’t relinquish me of my reclaimed groove and, just in case, I plan to use every square inch of mattress to its full advantage tonight and dance myself to sleep and back. Perhaps I will awaken tomorrow morning as bright as a beaver, pop and lock my way downstairs, prepare myself a hot wake up beverage whilst grabbing my crotch Cameo-style, and likely come over all queasy and need to sit down for ten minutes just to relocate my compromised equilibrium. Whatever happens, I’m eternally thankful for nights like tonight as tonight was the night that Keeper got his groove back.