The hour was growing late and the never-done-before crowd-sourced dance mix challenge had yet to be completed, or even begun. The list of tunes, in exact order of receipt, had grown frighteningly long, and if the dancing did not commence immediately, it would end up spanning two days.
Nay, not only two days, but two months.
No matter that the only living beings in the house were me, the dog and the cat. Plus a bat or two, probably, but I prefer not to think about them. I cued up the Spotify playlist, thank you, friend who told me I could save a bunch of money by doing it that way, and laid out some provisions on the dining table.
As the evening wore on it became clear that the correct food/ouzo/water ratio was 1:.5:1, with one gulp of ouzo = half a glass of water + one chip loaded with guacamole. Follow this formula and you will not go wrong.
It was strangely relaxing not to have to think about any of the below selected songs, as I had nothing to do with any of them.
They were crowd-sourced, so I didn’t allow myself to insert a single song that I personally wanted, such as Hey Ya, which ordinarily would be #1 on any dance list I had anything to do with, even snuck in in the form of the wordless Booker T. version, and which every one of my friends is probably sick of listening to.
Nope, I stuck entirely to the mix that was handed to me, and I danced each song in the order in which it was received, and I managed to squeak in just under the wire, at 11:56 p.m. Here goes.
1. Johann Froberger’s harpsichord “Meditation sur ma mort future.” M.T. Anderson, this has got to be the worst dance tune ever. What were you thinking! Dancing to this song is impossible. It was like going on a date with a nap, as a friend would say. Honestly, it was all I could do remain upright during the entire 6+ minutes of this awfulness. (Sorry, Mr. Froberger.)
2. Rock Lobster, by the B-52s. Thank God that Rock Lobster followed MT’s awful meditation on a dead future, because this is a song I can get behind. I love this song so much that it was all I could do not to play it five or six times in a row. But there were lots of songs to go, so I exerted huge willpower and moved on.
3. I Don’t Feel Like Dancin, by the Scissor Sisters. Great tune! But Scissor Sisters, you do make me feel like dancin. (Dancing to this song is like fighting with yourself the whole time: “I don’t feel like dancing.” “But wait, I *do* feel like dancing!”)
4. Bad Romance, by Lady Gaga. Who can argue with Gaga? This one came via one of my sisters, who’s a late, very enthusiastic discoverer of Gaga. It’s a good song, and as I danced to it I took the opportunity to imagine how a meat dress would feel. Heavy. Damp. Bloody. Steak-like. Interesting.
5. You Are My Sunshine, a “popular song first recorded in 1939,” according to Wikipedia. My friend Absalom sent me this one, and he could only have meant it as a wicked joke, a la MT Anderson, but guess what, Absalom? I loved it. As I danced to it the images of my three youthful companions kept floating through my mind, and I imagined I was giving each one a hug: the 6’4″ boy in Chicago, the tall curly-haired girl working the late shift at Tilia, and the short blackhaired girl currently staying up all night comforting wee homesick campers in Wisconsin.
6. The Hokey Pokey. This one came in via my friend Kay, who, like Absalom, no doubt meant it as a subversive joke, but again, guess what, Kay? I plugged in an amazing version by The Puppies and I put my right foot in and my left out with abandon. Take that!
7. “Anything Motown,” which I chose to interpret as Super Freak, by Rick James. This is a fabulous song, and Rick James is a fabulous guy, but I have to admit that the whole time I was dancing to it, all I could picture was that little girl in that Little Miss Sunshine movie, crawling forward on her hands and knees. (I still love the song.)
8. Pick Up the Pieces, by the Average White Band. This one brought me right back to high school, and I completely enjoyed dancing to it.
9. Go Your Own Way, by Fleetwood Mac. This one, too, brought me back to high school, or maybe college (I stink with dates), and I had a hard time interpreting all the emotions that came along with it. As I danced to it I couldn’t make up my mind whether this particular song makes me feel happy or sad. A combination, maybe. Stevie Nicks, I salute your bring me your leather take from me my lace self.
10. I Will Survive, by Gloria G. This is one of those anthemic songs that make you feel strong and powerful and full of strength. Yes, I *will* survive. Thank you, Gloria Gaynor.
11. Truth Is, by Brother Ali. Whenever I hear a song by Brother Ali I picture him as I sometimes see him, making his way down Lyndale or Nicollet, one of his kids in tow, and at the same time I picture him on stage with his head thrown back, singing his heart out. I don’t know Brother Ali, but I feel as if I do. Truth Is!
12. The Time Warp, from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes! The Time Warp! This brought me right back to when Rocky Horror first came out: the toast, the squirt bottles, the raincoats. What a weird, fun, bizarrely sexy movie. I had to resist playing this one more than once too. Thank you, person who sent this one to me. Exclamation marks indicate happiness.
13. Boogie Shoes, by KC and the Sunshine Band. Oh, dear other sister who sent this one in, how happy you made me. First by sending it in like this, in your completely unabashed capital-letter+exclamation marks way –BOOGIE SHOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!– and second because I got to dance to it. Who can resist such a song? Not you, and not me.
14. Last Dance, by Donna Summer. This one starts out so slow and sad. But then she jumps it into a real dance tune, and because of that, and because it reminds me of high school and college, and because she died recently, I danced this one with all my heart.
15. Lonely Boys, by the Black Keys. It’s the Black Keys! and they’re great! and so is this song, which is impossible not to dance to.
16. Brown-eyed Girl, by Van Morrison. This was a tough one, since to my mind, dancing to this song = dancing it with a boyfriend. No boyfriend present = figuring out how to dance to it alone. This could have made me sad, but I decided not to be sad, and it all went down pretty well.
17. “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners. Great tune! Brings me back to many a late-night party and much late-night fun. Thank you, person who sent it to me.
18. “You Spin Me Right Round” by Dead or Alive. When I first read the name of this song and the band who wrote it, I drew a blank. But the minute it spun up on the playlist I recognized it, and with great happiness. Love this song. Thank you, Jake.
19. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, by Billy Joel. This one, like Brown-Eyed Girl, seems to require a slow-dancing partner in order to make the most of it. I did my best, but I admit to taking a few ouzo breaks as it spun itself out.
20. “I Like the Way You Move, by the Bodyrockers. Oh! How I love this song. Who couldn’t love this song? Someone once put it on a mix he made me for Valentine’s Day, and as I danced to this song, I can’t deny that the memory of that made me cry. But still, I wouldn’t trade it away.
21. Red Alert, Basement Jaxx. So I’m 99% sure I never heard this song before I listened to it on youtube, but wow, does it fit my personal definition of a Great Song, in that one-third of the way through it felt familiar, as if I already knew it. This is a fabulous tune! I would tell you that it took all my willpower not to play it through five times in a row, but that would be a lie, because I did, in fact, play it through five times in a row. This tune has instantly vaulted to my top 10 dance songs. Thank you, Nick.
22. Jump, by the Pointer Sisters. Another classic, wonderful tune. By this point I had turned out all the lights, so that my 88-year-old neighbor wouldn’t be freaked out by the sight of me leaping about my dining room late at night, and so I felt free to jump –JUMP!– as high as I wanted.
23. Love Shack, by the B-52s. Can you imagine my delight at another B-52s song? Two in one night. First Rock Lobster and now the Love Shack. My cup runneth over.
24. Lord Tanamo, Matty Rag. SKA! I wouldn’t even have thought of putting ska on my dance list, and I loved swaying around my living room to the gentle beat of Lord Tanamo. Thank you, Sandy.
25. And last but certainly not least, Salt Shaker, by the Ying Yang Twins. All I can say about this one is a) it’s a damn good thing I had all the lights off (it was near midnight at this point) so that my 88-year-old neighbor didn’t have to witness me mimicking the moves of the official video, and b) I kind of hate to admit how much I like this song.