Got to Give it Up | Part One

Marvin Gaye, Sexual Healing, dance party, covid-19 survival blog


"I used to go out to parties
And stand around
'Cause I was too nervous
To really get down"

I love to dance. These days I dance by myself. I close the bedroom door, connect my Bose speaker to my iPad, select a playlist (SoulSurvival) and D A N C E. 

Every song is a memory, some date back to my childhood, most of the rest to my 20's and 30's. I love soul and the blues and I love Marvin Gaye. Suave and sophisticated in the 60's, powerful and political in the 70's and Mr. Sexual Healing in the 80's. Each decade he produced and wrote some of the most iconic songs, at least in my book. 

Break it down. Ain't nothing like the real thing baby, right? 

My first memories of dancing-my brief tenure as a performer for my sister and brother and their teenage buddies. I gladly dressed up, put on makeup (my sister helped) and climbed up on a stool and proceeded to twist and shout. They loved it. My little self had no idea they were also highly amused to put it kindly! I thought I was a movie star. 

I was a teenager in the 70's and I moved every two years. I never ever went to a high school dance, didn't go to the prom (highly uncool in my decade) and didn't dance. Had no idea what I was missing.

I moved to Oakland in 1975 and all of a sudden I was around all these folks that loved to boogie. We learned to do the 'bump', did the 'hustle' but god no, never the the 'funky chicken'.

'Got to Give it Up' is THE song. I have no idea how I learned to dance, when I actually got up on the floor, I was hooked. Dancing was an instant high, the beat went straight to my soul and came out of my hips. My feet could fly. I had one idiosyncrasy, I don't like and didn't like 'partner dancing'. No twirls, dips, hand holding or slow dancing for me. Nope, Nada, Never. Oh yeah, you get the guy that loves partner dancing, but you quickly pull away and you are off doing your own thing. I also never did the Grateful Dead Sway or the Stevie Nicks Swirl. I did straight up get down dancing. 

I am an introvert. I don't like being the center of attention. I live inside my head, but when it comes to dancing I am all in. I love nothing more than a dance party. It can be two to one hundred, it can be dancing in the street or at a club, but my best dancing is reserved for those wonderful 'home dance parties'. Roll back the rug, blast your albums, then CD's and now playlists.

So some of my top 10 dance parties.

1) Summer Solstice, 1975 Oakland (very fuzzy memories)

2) After Hours dancing to Stroke. I was 19 and my boyfriend Bob was the keyboard player in a funk band, Stroke. I couldn't get into the clubs until 2 a.m. Stroke played after hours and I do believe that was when I first cut the rug. Everyone was pretty spent by 6 a.m., the band packed up and we all went home to sleep away the day and return the next night if we were lucky.

3) Dancing at the Cotati Cabaret to the Neville Brothers, 9 months pregnant. Aaron Neville dedicated 'Bésame Mucho' to ME. Yes sirreee. I was a big preggers woman, still dancing, albeit pretty wobbly, at the front of the stage. I even remember what I was wearing, an emerald green silk tent dress.

4) 1979, Dutton Avenue Big House Party. Wow. This was the end of an era party. My future husband, Jon and our roommate Pat threw a huge party at our home. We lived in an old farmhouse that had a huge amount of land around the house and a big barn. It is now a home with apartments where there was once land. My favorite memory of this party was the dancing. We were still playing 'hippies' and we all made a huge circle in the backyard. A Peruvian woman named Alice (I am not making this up!) belly-danced to everyones' oooohs and aaahhhs. As the sun went down we all moved inside, turned up the music and feet started flying. First Song, 'Jump' by the Pointer Sisters. My buddy Bruce and I hit the floor with both feet, and then I was literally flying, my feet were off the ground and I was a whirling dervish. It absolutely is one of my most memorable dance memories. The party went on 'til the wee hours of the morn; I woke up in the barn and the field was littered with our friends, in sleeping bags waking up to the morning sun. Little did we know the next decade would be the demise of our idealistic movement and a return to the business of loving money. Bummer.

5) Jon and I moved to another farmhouse surrounded by an acre of land. It was called the 'honeymoon cottage' by the family that owned it. They were Italian, the house was in what was once called 'Little Italy' in Santa Rosa. The land had Santa Rosa plum trees, fig trees, walnut trees and all kinds of strange native plants in this wild backyard. The house was 800 square feet, really rundown, and by renting it we agreed to fix any and everything that went 'wrong' in terms of the structure. That also gave us a tremendous amount of freedom to make it our vision of our kind of home. The bonus, the rent was literally 65 bucks a month. We lived there for 10 years and I cannot count the number of dance parties we hosted. Dinner parties turned into dance parties. Nothing like dancing to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell singing 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing'.

6) 1987, The Graduation Party. Jon graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Architecture. This was a huge deal. The $65 a month rent, low tuition fees and my ability to help with homework made Jon's foray into higher education a truly inspirational time in our lives. To celebrate what we knew was a momentous occasion, we threw another huge party. We had a raw oyster bar, courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Company. We became friends with Mike and John, the oyster farmers, and I developed a life long love affair with raw oysters. The sparkling wine flowed and the sun went down and the music blasted. We danced so hard that little house was shaking. At one point I looked over at the bookcase and the fish bowl with a solo goldfish was making waves. Literally.  We were 'Burning Down the House'.

7) I got pregnant with my first boy in 1987, gave birth in 1988 and we moved to our own sweet home on Cherry Street. Our good friend Bob would visit with his future wife Charlene. Again, roll back the rug and dance; this was with my first born in the living room, swinging and swaying in my arms, Al Green, 'Take me to the River'. 

8) I adore the movie 'Mary Poppins'. My oldest boy was about 3 years old when I introduced him to the movie and a dance was born. My little imp loved the chimney sweep dance scene. We had a huge bedroom with beautiful redwood floors and my boy would grab a broom and just go wild, dancing to 'Step in Time'. I was the audience, my jaw just dropped each and every time, in amazement. This kid was a whirling dervish, too.

9) My second son was born in 1993. By the time he was 3 he was also performing. He loved Disco and Broadway (Evita!). For his third birthday he requested a 'Fancy as You can Be' dance party. Totally his idea. Family and friends all dressed up, both kids in fancy clothes, my oldest sister in leather hot pants and when the daytime party was over the kids, their friends and my wonderful family and friends danced the night away. This was Disco Baby and contrary to popular opinion it doesn't suck. How about 'Do the Hustle'?

10) My partner, Ken, gave me a birthday party that to this day makes my face turn red. For some unknown reason, my boys, Ken and I ended up in the courtyard of our home for my 54th birthday. Ken put his speaker system and microphone out in the courtyard, queued up my favorite Motown hits and I entertained the kids with my Motown dance and song routines. Oh. My. God. And this is me, completely, truly sober. No nothing to encourage me to do this except the absolute love of music and dancing. I remain embarrassed.

There are so many more dance parties, all memorable. My dream, after we all get through this pandemic together, let's block off the street outside my home and turn up the music to 11 and dance our booties off. Until then I will continue to dance with all these memories floating around my brain and body.

Be safe, stay home, and let's support Science and Scientists. Let's not be Red and Blue, let's just be together.

Got to Give it Up, Marvin Gaye, 1977

I used to go out to parties
And stand around
'Cause I was too nervous
To really get down
But my body yearned to be free
I got up on the floor and found
Someone to choose me
No more standin' along the side walls
Now I've got myself together, baby
And I'm havin' a ball
Long as you prove it
There's always a chance
Somebody watches
Might wanna make romance
Move your body, ooo baby, you dance all night
To the groove and feel all right
Everybody's groovin' on like a fool
But if you see me, top down, let me in
Baby just party high and low
Let me step into your erotic zone
Move it up
Turn it 'round
Ooo shake it down
You can love me when you want to babe
This is such a groovy party baby
We're here face to face
Everybody's swingin'
This is such a groovy place
All the young ladies are so fine!
You're movin your body easy with no doubts
I know what you thinkin' baby
You wanna turn me out
Think I'm gonna let you do it babe
Keep on dancin'
Got to give it up
Keep on dancin'
Got to give it up
Keep on dancin'
Got to give it up
Keep on dancin'
Got to give it up
Keep on dancin'
Got to give it up
Keep on dancin'
You got to get it
Got to give it up
Keep on dancin'
Got to give it up


P.S. Marvin Gaye is a friggin' babe.

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