So let’s clear up any misconceptions. I got the job through a friend from one of my dance classes who knew I was between gigs (which is a nice way of saying I was out of work at the time). I usually filled those interims with bartending jobs, but had a bad experience recently and wasn’t eager to continue slinging drinks. Rent was coming due and my bank account hovered around zero. My friend approached me after class one day and said, “I know how you can make decent money for a half-hour show three nights a week.”
Sounds sketchy, right? But my friend assured me that there was no nudity involved, in fact the costumes were elaborate to the point of being ridiculous. I tentatively agreed to come to rehearsal that afternoon. If all went well, I’d be onstage the following night. I walked in and met the seven other performers (six dancers, two singers). Over the space of two hours they taught me six dance numbers. I found it curious that everything was set to early-eighties tunes like “Beat It” and “Turn the Beat Around,” (this was the mid-nineties), but figured it could be worse.
- a disco routine where we wore towering French powdered wigs, lacey bodices, and hoop skirts.
- a Michael Jackson number complete with Jerri-curl wigs and black spandex outfits, and
- a flapper-style tap routine featuring the Charleston.
Confused? I was. The modern day equivalent would be teaching people about American History by showing them Youtube clips.
And here’s the funny thing: in retrospect, it was the most fun I ever had dancing. Up until then I’d worked with a series of very serious modern dance companies doing “important” pieces. So I’d be rolling around the stage in a black leotard simulating the situation in Rwanda, or wallowing in pieces called “Disconnected” that were supposed to illustrate the dehumanizing effect of machinery on modern existence (mind you, this was pre-internet). And the Club Versailles job was just pure fun, the dance equivalent of a summer blockbuster film. I had a blast doing it for the three months the gig lasted. Then one night, we were all abruptly terminated. Apparently the owner suddenly realized she could hire Russian dancers for a quarter of what she was paying us, and wouldn’t have to provide van service.
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