June 24, 2010


The Gazzarri Dancers and "Ding Dong" Drysdale have shown us some classic Go Go moves this week. For club-goers, as well as the hired talent, generous gyrations were a blend of freestyle expression and specific patterns. In the clip we studied from Australia, Ding Dong counted out the steps for a group of budding Go Gos. David Foster of Permission to Kill was surprised he didn't see his mom in there somewhere! I hope we get stories :)

We can see a similar teaching moment and more 60s club culture in this famous clip from The Beatles' first tour of the United States in 1964. The film was shot by Albert and David Maysles for Granada television, and bits of footage was televised by Granada at the time. But the talented filmmaking brothers also edited a full documentary version, called What's Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. Much of the film was released as The Beatles First U.S. Visit on DVD in 2004. The director's cut has only been seen by a few film festivals over the years.

The scene takes place at the Peppermint Lounge. The New York club opened in 1958 and is famous for being one of the birthplaces for that seminal solo/freestyle dance, The Twist! House band, Joey Dee and the Starliters, recorded the
Peppermint Twist in 1961 (preceded by Hank Ballard in 1959 and Chubby Checker in 1960). The Twist craze inspired many artists to jump on the dance bandwagon (including Bo Diddley's a Twister in 1962!).

In footage from the Maysles film, the Starliters pump out a primal version of the song
Money. The Beatles also recorded this tune live in Hamburg in 1962, on their Decca audition tapes in 1963, and again on With/Meet The Beatles just before their US tour. A lovely club-goer counts out steps for Ringo and Murray the K, while the rest of the band parties with the locals. It's a cool window into 1964 club culture and dance.

Screenwriter Alun Own traveled with The Beatles for a few days prior to this tour to research the film he was writing for Richard Lester, A Hard Days Night. In this scene from the film, art imitates life beautifully as Ringo and George dance to some of their own tunes from With/Meet The Beatles. For those who don't know the movie, the disco is intercut with scenes of Paul's "grandfather" gambling at the swanky Le Circle Club.

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