Long Before The World Feared A North Korean Radioactive Bar-B-Q, The World Was “Twistin’ The Night Away”!

October 10, 2006

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Last year I learned how to “Lean Back” from Fat Joe in his Hip-Hop Video. I tried to learn “The Krunk” from Lil John…but I guess I didn’t have enough “Junk in my Trunk” to execute it properly. Then I thought about another time and a simpler dance that everybody could do…The TWIST!! Capitalized not because it was such a great dance…but because it was such a great social equalizer! “The Twist” was written by Hank Ballard and Henry Glover, popularized by Chubby Checker, and made into an international phenomenon by “Jet-Setter”, Zsa Zsa Gabor! It was more than just a cultural phenomenon to me…it was a turning (or should I say, “twisting”) point in my life. Armed with my fake ID (which I made in High School print shop), I’d hit all the clubs in New York and do “The Twist” all night long in the early 60s’.

I was a singer/songwriter, starting to make a name for myself. I was dating Dee Dee Sharp, (“Mashed Potatoes”), which thrust me into the center of the dance universe. I remember going out to dinner with many of her well known friends, including Jerry Butler, Joey Dee, Ronnie and Nedra of the Ronettes, La La from the Crystals and various members of the Crests. Although I was the unknown and poorest of the group, in my shiny dark blue irridescent suit, I did look pretty affluent…and would be the one the waiter would always hand the check to. Fortunately, one of my well heeled dinner companions would grab the sweaty check away from me!

These associations lead me to be put on lists of the Peppermint Lounge, the Apollo theater, the Gold Bug and smaller venues all over the city, where I would bring artists and producers from all over the world. I remember taking Chas Chandler from the Animals, Billy J. Kramer and Gerry Marsden, from Gerry and the Pacemakers his brother Fred, to the Peppermint Lounge, where we saw the Ronettes perform one night. I felt like I was in a scene from the movie, “Don’t Knock The Twist’…The “High School Musical” of it’s day! At one point in the evening, the entire overcrowded room was on their feet. Even the fire marshall was “Twistin’ The Night Away”!

These days I keep looking in vain for a “Twist” night at the Disco. I guess I’ll just rewind my Betamax while I’m looking for my Hula Hoop!

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