Monday, July 14, 2008

Dance Like Everyone's Watching

My earliest career ambition (besides being an archaeologist, an idea I gave up when I learned it would require spending hours in the hot sun removing dust from pottery shards with a toothbrush) was to be a dancer on Hullabaloo!, the mid-Sixties prime-time TV show on NBC that featured all the acts you might expect, from Paul Anka to the Zombies, as well as some you might not, such as Judy Collins. There was a regular infusion of the British Invasion (Chad and Jeremy, the Kinks), undoubtedly helped along by Beatles manager Brian Epstein's appearance as the host of a London segment, and lots of Motown, including Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. A similar show called Shindig on ABC was its antecedent, but I don't remember it being as good.

Hullabaloo!'s dancers included Michael Bennett and Donna McKechnie, best known as creator and star of the original production of A Chorus Line, still one of my favorite musicals of all time. I only discovered that when at some point pre-Wikipedia I decided it would be fun to try to write a screenplay about a boy and a girl who meet on the show's set, and visited what was then The Museum of Broadcasting (now The Paley Center) to watch hours of tape, saw the dancers introducing themselves in a segment ("I'm Michael!" "I'm Donna!") and gloated at my early perspicacity, though I never did write the script.

An indelible segment of the show, called "Hullabaloo! A Go-Go," featured a dancer in a cage, shaking it while wearing a fringed minidress and short white go-go boots. A child's version of those boots featured prominently in my Halloween costume one year during the show's run. I later found a vintage pair in my grownup size and wore them happily, with Sixties minidresses, to early-Eighties shows by The Vipers and The Fleshtones. And I do remember a late-Seventies New Year's Eve upstairs at the Mudd Club, where I was dancing in a cage, but even then had no idea how or when I'd gotten there.

From a style perspective I never approved of the hippie version of dance or fashion - tie-dye and beads and pointless swaying, oh my! But put me in a Courrèges minidress and play something I can do the Frug to and I'll be there!

Fans of The Dark Knight will undoubtedly object, but here are the Hullabaloo dancers cavorting to the "Batman" theme:

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