Monday, January 30, 2012

Love Saves the Day

We spent forever anticipating the antics of this night. Yet no matter how long we spent discussing the intricacies of how it could all transpire, the music, the lights and atmosphere, it always seemed to exist in a fantastical realm. For its breadth and grandeur, we often stopped momentarily to giggle at the idea of even discussing it. After all, it would be the celebration of Billy's 30th birthday... and Billy was only 28.

Billy and I had imagined the party in many different places: we imagined surveying Melbourne's skyline from an inner-city rooftop, we discussed the prospect of dancing in a former industrial space. We contemplated the idea of projecting videos on the walls, clips of Deee-lite mucking about in their dressing room or else Grace Jones getting her hair cut. We thought about how we could possibly re-interpret the fairy-light portraiture of Laura Adel Johnson with the help of a projector and some double-sided sticky tape.

As discussions progressed, I became more devoted to this night and what I had imagined of it. I became engrossed with the idea of a heavily populated dancefloor. Sequins, strobe lights, sweat. The more we discussed it, the more I realised that I, too, wanted to have this night of unbridled Italo Disco decadence. Yet, somehow there was always this implicit acknowledgement between us that the night we truly wanted had passed many years before us. If only we could have danced at New York City's Paradise Garage, thirty odd years before?

Even as we stood against the white-washed brick walls of South Melbourne's Smart Artz Gallery, eyeing off the particularly inviting grand piano in the corner of the room, I always thought it would be in the far future. Perhaps it was something in the way Billy spoke about his plans. He had invested so much love, thought and attention in the philosophy of it all. Every aspect of it was full of personal and political significance. It was no longer just a birthday party, it was Love Saves the Day, an exploration of black and gay rights within the context of disco culture.

It became all the more significant when Billy insisted I dj for the early part of the evening. My mind reeled, considering the hundreds, nay, thousands of raging Italo anthems I wanted to blast out, compelling every person to move without contemplation. It would have been the first time in two years that I'd been behind the decks. Were it not for his invitation, I would still be silent and curious, imagining how it would have all gone down, if only I had the courage. In some strange way, his dream of this night made me think of the possibility of orchestrating something so perfect, something so synonymous with love, honour and expectation.

It's strange that it's all over now. What was once a fanciful imagining is now a mere memory. Disco balls hang from the rafters and brick walls are awash with a red glow. Floor to ceiling black and white wall hangings flank the DJ: to one side, Martin Luther King Jr emphatically addresses the masses, on the other, thousands of disco-haters charge towards a pile of burning disco records on Disco Demolition Night. The images are loaded, the message is clear. Suddenly, the politics of disco become apparent: if people can dance together, they can live together.

There are many things I want to take away from Love Saves the Day: how we screeched in mutual recognition of our anthems, how we surveyed the expansive nightscape of a 1972 New York City skyline, how our jaws dropped when a Mr Whippy van suddenly appeared from behind the shutters. Its startling similarity to Billy's original vision makes me want to retain this feeling of gratitude, hope and possibility. It makes me realise that anything could be as perfect and harmonious as one can ever imagine it to be.

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