Trust the Gene Genie

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Disco, as I remember it

This isn't meant to turn into a love-in of any sort, but when you reconnect with old friends, it's hard not to get misty about the good times.

Jayson, who you'll remember from two posts ago, is an old friend who recently got in touch with me (he and his wife are having quints). Anyway, he remanisced about our disco-dancing past. And it got me thinking about something I'd long taken for granted: that there was a time when I didn't know how to disco dance and then a time when I learned. You have to understand, for many years it was a major part of my identity as I used it to much aplomb at dances and gatherings and the like.

And when you begin to break out disco moves, after having done it for so long, you don't think about it anymore. It's as if you've always been able to do it. And of course, you haven't always been able to do it. Only very few, very select people are born able to disco.

So take a walk down memory lane with me as I recall those halcyon days of the early 90s when records were becoming obsolete, disco was funny and anything was possible.

Like many of my generation, I grew up mocking disco. Who didn't? It's still one of the most attrocious and aggregious musical movements perpetuated on our species. So you can imagine my confusion and subsequent delight when Jayson showed me he had found an instructional disco dance-by-the-numbers record. I don't remember quite when that was. Maybe 1991? Jayson, Alicia and I met -- well we met years ago. Alicia actually attended my third birthday party. But when we were young impressionable teens, we got reacquainted during a summer musical producation of "Fiddler on the Roof" that our stake was puting on.

As I recall, it was a pretty fast friendship. I spent a lot of time at the Wilkinsons' and it was one of those times, hanging out in the basement, that Jayson showed me his find. It was a full-on instructional record with the black footprints to show you what to do. As I recall, he had already worked out most of the moves (he's a natural dancer and, you can correct me if I'm wrong, Jayson, but he eventually landed on BYU's folk dance squad). I was entranced and we got a whole routine worked out. It wasn't long before we were busting it out at church dances. You remember, someone would get going, busting a move to C+C Music Factory, and a cricle would form. Everyone would stand around watching as some kids in parachute pants showed everyone how to get down. It like a siren call to us. We'd eventually slip in and start the mad, hot disco and people would go wild.

The irony of it was beautiful. With the disco, we were able to, in one fell swing of the hips and raise of the hand, simultaneoulsy mock those taking the dance too seriously and impress the ladies by not playing by the rules. It was genius, really. It was also a lot of fun.

Well, a year later I had moved to Utah and as I raged against cookie-cutter fads and gimmicks in the culture there, disco became the way I set myself apart from the other jokers, eventually making a video of a routine with a couple friends. That video still exists -- in fact it was the video that eventually convinced Becky I had enough personality for her to marry me. And to think where it all started. I can't imagine how different my life would ahve turned out had Jayson never found that record.


urpy said...

I guess I should be thanking Jayson Wilkinson for helping to create the man I fell in love with.

The disco video didn't necessarily convince me that you had a personality, I already knew it, I just didn't know how alike we were until I saw the video. Watching it was like coming home.

I loved the bit you wrote about busting out the disco moves during a church dance. Classic Rob.

Long live DISCO--and ultra tight polyester pants!

Diana said...

Talk about Dance Dance Revolution! By the time I got into highschool and saw the jokers do their disco thing I was totally not impressed. Partially because my brother had coined the disco rebellion and their polyester pants were not as tight or cool. Thank you Jayson.

Stephanie B said...

"Disco Inferno" was going through my head over and over as I read your post.

You got moves, Rob! Oh, yes you do!

Megan of Parker said...

Hey, Rob, I don't know if you remeber me all that well, but this is Megan Wilkinson. I am the youngest of the Wilkinson clan, and I think I worshiped you back when I was 4.

It is great to hear the story of the disco. Have you posted your video anywhere? Have you seen Jayson dancing Disco is his Star Trek Uniform on YouTube? Good times...

Let the Disco live on!

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