Burn the dance floor

Monday, July 11, 2011


The last time I went dancing at Raiford's Disco, I was on summer break from college. I have no memory of who I was with, but I remember everyone else - soused college boys, beer-soaked 45 year old ladies in cut off shorts cougaring long before it was forgivable, fog machines, red lights, and Raiford himself - slick jheri curl, sunglasses inside, a mouth of gold. True to the club's name, the music was pure 70s, and the dancing was frenetic, the kind that leaves you wet and wrung out and sticky with cigarette smoke and sweat. In the red lights, we were foolish and we were beautiful.

Good god how I miss dancing.

Saturday night I got the chance to visit the new Raiford's - slightly bigger than the original, but still the same acrid smoke smell, the stripper poles, the warnings not to check your coat with the coat girl as Raiford's did not actually employ a coat check girl. My friends Chris and Lurene set the bar for celebrating 15 years of marriage by doing so at a disco. Caleb and I tried desperately and failed to score a babysitter, so we decided to take shifts. I took the 9-11:30, showing up in my sparkly mini and heels to a largely empty disco. But by 11:30, my muscles already ached from dancing, my hair the no-nonsense wet mess in a bun that frees up your neck for more head tossing.

I love how dancing is like riding a bike, that there is some serious wobble until the third or fourth song - or until Stevie Wonder arrives to make dances pros of us all. At 11:30, the dance floor was pea soup thick with fog machines, friends, drunk college boys, and better dressed cougars. I started to see some awesome dance archetypes falling into place, beginning with a couple of my signatures.

1. The Clapper - the dancer keeps the beat like they are warming up at a pep rally, front to back, over the head, getting in some serious cardio but not really dancing so much as jogging in place. Small wonder my quads catch fire the next morning.

2. The Trancer - they love to dance and they really want you to know they love to dance. They exist in their own little square footage and make no mistake - they are not dancing with you, just kinda adjacent. They are terrified of #5.

3. The Storyteller - this one acts out the lyrics of the song, i.e. scrubbing a phantom car at the Car Wash, texting Lady Gaga during Telephone, crumbling, laying down and dying and flexing muscles to prove they Will Survive. This can quickly segue into

4. Bag of Tricks - there is always the one, the guy who busts out with the sprinkler, the bus driver, the shopping cart

5. The Lyricist - this is a close relative of the Storyteller, a dancer who leans in during the chorus and demands unfaltering eye contact as you say AHOOOWAH DANCING IN SEPTEMBER, AHBOOGAH YO NO SAY REMEMBER. (What the hell is going on by the end of that chorus, anyway? )

6. The Exotic Dancer - if there is a pole, they will use it, and disturbingly well. If there is not a pole, there will be a drunk college boy as a willing stand in. And he will catch it as she drops it, repeatedly.

7. The Wishes Every Dance was a Line Dance - this one usually is some combo of #s 1 and 7 but catches FIRE during the Electric Slide. They know every move, every kick and go left and to the back and walk it out with finesse.

8. The Galaxy - gravity doesn't apply here. He/she flings themselves onto the floor and is at the DJs mercy, careening around until they collide into #4's shopping cart or the DJ stops the room cold with El deBarge, whichever happens first.

Do you see yourself in a combination here? Did I leave out some good ones? Have you been dancing lately?

You should go. Your heart and quads the brain cells responsible for moving you through YMCA will thank you.


  1. OMG I am so embarrassed to admit this but I am a #5! The most annoying dance archetype of all! But god how I love to be on the dance floor and scream out, "RIIIIIIDE, SALLY, RIIIIDE!!!!!"

  2. @Alexa - of course you are. And that's why I adore you.

  3. And then there's me. I'm the bass player. I don't dance - I make other people dance. (And that's my excuse, even when I'm not playing bass.)