Sunday, December 17, 2006

Doing Stuff: Day 16, Soul Line

"Okay, step forward, then back. Then bigforward, then bigback. Now cross. Then shake for three counts and then woooooooo," said one woman guiding me and two other newcomers through a brief introduction on the dance step done to Marvin Gaye songs.

Soul Line is one of those low-budget, locally-produced television shows that you somehow inexplicably watch for hours at a time.

The show's premise steals from classic music shows like Soul Train or Solid Gold, except it focuses on line dancing, where hundreds of people take to the dance floor and perform the same steps all at once.

The Soul Line's Christmas episode was taped at the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel near the Philadelphia International Airport. The crowd was festive, with nearly everyone decked out in red. After the MC/host of the TV show sermonized ("Philadelphia is the line dancing capital, but nwo we're bringing it to places like Vineland, Bridgeton, Reading!"), the music geared up and the Soul Line fans took to the dance floor.

Everyone knows every dance step, everyone knows every turn and everyone knows every word to every song. It's very hypnotic to watch -- like watching video footage of Kim Jong Il's birthday celebration at a Pyongyang soccer stadium.

"It's almost like a cult, but a good cult," said Carlos, a Delaware resident who started taking line dancing lessons four months ago. "You meet so many people and go to so many different locations. It's exhilarating."

The exhilaration and exuberance at Soul Line was made evident in the handful of interviews I performed. On three separate occasions, my interviews were cut off by the change of a song.

"Oooooh, this is my jam," or "ohhh, I love this song" would be the closing line, while the person I was talking to would head to the dance floor.

Most of the people in attendance at Soul Line came into the world of line dancing in a similar fashion -- by seeing the show on TV and then pursuing lessons.

"I saw it on TV about three years ago and I taught myself the dances by watching the TV shows, " said Susie Kirkland, a resident of Chester in attendance at Soul Line. "Then I started taking lessons. Then I started teaching the lessons a few months later."

The actual dancing reminded me a bit of the Germantown Country Dancers whom I met I when I started this project. Each section of the dance floor had a "den mother" of sorts who was guiding the routine for the newconers, everyone's eyes belied strong intensity and everyone was having a good time despite the pure intensity of the moment. The only difference was that this music was more 70's Tape Collection and had less harpsichord. And there were a few more black people.


Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats