For We May Not Have Tomorrow
OK. It's early Fall, 2010. If you're reading this you're alive. We've made it through most of the year in pretty much one piece, if a little bruised, broken, bent, and bemused. The sunlight is streaming in through the windows hitting the crystals hanging everywhere, breaking down the light in every possible color of the rainbow as it dances and trips and falls all over the room. (Disco ball photo courtesy Google Images)
R E M E M B R A N C E O F S O R T S — Gloria Gaynor was on Leno Friday night, singing one of her well-loved Disco songs, "I Will Survive" and it just sent me back 30+ years—as does almost everything these days, lol. Maybe it's because I've been spending the last few days going through boxes of stuff from my last move, reconnecting with some long-lost items and photos of friends no longer with us. Maybe it's because I still can't get over the fact that of all my friends, with all the craziness of our lives, I'm the one that made it to 53. Maybe it's because for all of my decades out in public, and looking for love in all the wrong places, I'm trying to reconcile the fact this era of my life is just as valid as my earlier life (lives?). THIS life carries the same importance as my earlier life filled with friends and family, if not more than my share of trauma too. It's a hard sell—I'm not sure I'll ever completely believe it.
Listening to these Disco songs is like driving in a time-traveling Delorean, I'm instantly transported back to the late '70s and early '80s. I'm in LA at Probe or Studio One, or folding clothes at Ah Men on Santa Monica Boulevard. I'm standing in line for the grand opening of The Mother Lode, or on the small dance floor at the Blue Parrot gazing up at the DJ on the balcony beaming down at me, saying everything that needed to be said with the twinkling in his eyes and the ear-to-ear grin on his face. I'm in New York at the Saint, one of thousands of like-minded men all going along on a collective trip to the center of the universe—and sometimes all the way back. I'm at Roxy, the Sound Factory, Mars Needs Men, or any number of downtown clubs, Pyramid, The Bar, The Tunnel, Spike, Eagle, a dozen others, I'm in San Francisco at the Trocadero, in New Haven at Partners or Les Oubliettes.
I'm young, I'm high, I'm surrounded by people that like me for the first time in my life, I'm surrounded by men my own age that desire me for the first time in my life. I'm the center of attention when I walk into a room. I'm by myself in a dark corner taking it all in. I have money, I have dreams, I have tomorrow in all of its unknown glory, and I have the day after that and none of it scares me. I have the presence of mind to know I'm having the best time of my life, and the ability to ignore the cold chills that go down my back at times, attributing them to the last bump I did, not the cold, distant future I really know is coming like someone spitting on my grave.
I'm sweaty and hot and leaving the club at the wee hours of the morning and looking forward to the first streaks of sunlight on the walk or ride home. In LA, on Sunday mornings, after being in the clubs all night, I'm on my way to "Church" at Greg's Blue Dot, a bar that opens up at 6 am and has an outdoor dancing area where we can all continue to commune with our deeper souls. Our eyes say it all—pupils the size of saucers, twinkling like the disco balls we just left behind. I'm young and I'm not even aware of how much I'm trying to forget parts of my childhood.
Now I'm old and trying to forget about my future. I create art that is a nod to the past—my past, my family's past, my friend's past. At this point in my life the future doesn't interest me in the slightest, not one damn bit. I'm trying to forget my dead friends' lack of futures, their lives cut short by AIDS, by cancer, by drunk drivers, by overdoses, by Life. I'm trying to forget everything that hasn't happened yet but which I know is coming.
Some of the links below are actual videos, low resolution as is the norm at YouTube, but most are just a photo or two or a blank page with the song title. These songs will probably mean the most to my fellow 50+ year old gay boys, but I stand by their ability to transcend time and space and personal backgrounds with their absolutely infectious beats and rhythms and simple affirmations of life and love. They're the songs of our Coming of Age, they're the songs of our dead friends, they're the songs of our lives.
Rejoice that we're here this morning—this very second—and sing along and dance. Tap your foot and nod your heads and be just a little bit crazy this very second. Get up and boogie. We only have this very moment. Tomorrow—who knows?
The following links are twenty-three Disco songs I found at YouTube. I remembered most of them off the top of my head, but when I googled the artists I couldn't remember, I found a great list of songs by year which helped me fill in the gaps. I'm sure I left out some of the very best, but these are some of my favorite Disco-era recordings and the ones that really resonate with me.
This Time Baby. Jackie Moore
Boogie Wonderland. Earth, Wind and Fire
Boogie Wonderland. Earth, Wind and Fire
Don't Leave Me This Way. Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (Teddy Pendergrass)
Runaway Love. Linda Clifford (long version)
Shame. Evelyn Champagne King (long version)
Got to be Real. Cheryl Lynn
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now. McFadden & Whitehead
The Boss. Diana Ross (long version)
Mighty Real. Sylvester
Never Can Say Goodbye. Gloria Gaynor
Upside Down. Diana Ross (remix)
Bad Girls. Donna Summer
Ring My Bell. Anita Ward
Take Your Time (Do It Right). SOS Band
You Got Me Dancin'. Andrea True
Vertigo/Relight My Fire. Dan Hartman (long version)
Love Hangover. Diana Ross
Spring Affair. Donna Summer
Turn the Beat Around. Vicki Sue Robinson
Everybody Dance. Chic
Boogie Oogie Oogie. A Taste of Honey
We Are Family. Sister Sledge
Street Life. The Crusaders and Randy Crawford.
The list I found online of the greatest Disco songs of all time, here.