"Dawn," I said worriedly, "I don't think I look very French."
"Oh, don't worry; none of us look very French," Dawn assured me. "We'll draw on moustaches when we get there."
That was a relief.
Dance Club would be meeting at the Meow Meow for the Piebald show, and every one of us was wearing some variation of a striped T-shirt. We were feeling French, and we were ready to dance. We were Dance Club: Nicole Thompson, Dawn Riddle, Jill Scantlan, Sara Delorey, Jen Davison, and myself.
To be honest, none of us actually like Piebald. However, as members of Dance Club, it's not necessarily our job to enjoy the music. The general mission of Dance Club is to infiltrate the crowd and, simply to booty dance. Because if there's one thing a hardcore/punk show needs--especially an East Coast hardcore show--it's booty dancers. And to booty dance is to bounce and shake, waving our butts in the air like we just don't care.
But perhaps Jill explains the concept of Dance Club best. "At all the hardcore shows we've attended," she says, "dudes outside are always like, 'Hey baby,' and shit like that. That never happens to us at other shows. We basically wanted to get in their faces and dance ridiculously, because everything about that scene is pretty ridiculous. Booty dancing and wearing costumes breaks the ice, and encourages other people to really let loose. We also utilize a foam #1 finger. Everyone loves those."
For the Piebald show, we arrived just before the headliners were scheduled to play. In the Meow Meow bathroom, we changed into our Dance Club hot pants and drew on eyeliner moustaches; I decided I really wanted an eyeliner monobrow, so I drew that, too. Jill and Dawn took it a step farther by drawing cigarettes coming out of their mouths--smoking is very French.
Though our theme was "French men," each Dance Club meeting requires a different costume. "At first we just tried to look insane; I don't remember why we were French," Nicole later recalls. "We'd just go with our instincts. That, and our daily Tarot card readings."
When the band started, we descended. Arms and asses high in the air, foam finger aimed towards the heavens, we pushed our way through the crowd of mostly underage kids. Believe me, there's nothing more divisive to an audience than a group of obnoxious girls having a great time (especially ones screaming "DANCE CLUB!" at the end of every song). After about three of Piebald's tight yet thick-headed songs, half the kids in the audience loved us, and the other half wanted to slit our throats.
It was awesome.
And it was especially awesome seeing the high school kids--girls, in particular--get over their initial awkwardness and shake their asses with us.
"We like to rub our butts on people," explained Nicole. "Jill and Dawn have a move we call 'cross-country skiing.' Also, we like hippie interpretive dancing a lot."
I like to think of Dance Club as an interactive, feminist performance project. Though no one talks about the presence of boy-centricism at punk shows anymore, it still exists. In the aftermath of the PC movement, people just stopped acknowledging it. But by jumping headfirst into that imbalance, by wearing ridiculous costumes, painted-on moustaches and monobrows, dancing our asses off, and not caring what anyone thinks, it just feels like we're in control.
After the Piebald show, I asked Jill, Dawn, and Nicole if they thought Dance Club was a feminist venture. Their response: "Oh, 10-4! But we're not an all-girl club. We're into giving confidence to girls and making room for everyone to shake. If we see a troublemaker, we take care of them through the powers of dance."
Ironically, Dance Club started because of Boy Sets Fire, who you may know as an all-boy, crusty-ass Delaware hardcore band that's been around since the mid-'90s.
"Jill and I used to booty dance to their old CDs in our rooms," explains Dawn, "and we realized we should be doing this in front of a lot of people. Then we found out [Boy Sets Fire] were playing with Snapcase. We wore costumes and talked our way in the back door at the B Complex. Back then it was just me, Jill, and Lydia (she lived next door to the show, and we kidnapped her).
"Jill and I got drunk in a parking lot before the show, and talked in accents for an hour. We had all these stories made up to tell the front door guy so he'd let us in for free. We made all-access passes, too [See "How to Join Dance Club" below], but the door guy wasn't feeling it. Eventually Boy Sets Fire let us in the back door to make us stop talking to them. Jill said we were doing them a service that they needed us there."
Bands need Dance Club, because it provides instant audience enthusiasm. It's like hiring a team of cheerleaders--drunk, obnoxious, and purposefully ugly ones. Of course, not all bands are stoked to see Dance Club, which is part of the fun. "Piebald weren't exactly gentlemen about it," remarks Nicolle, "But we really showed them. We stole all their water."
And though the members of Dance Club can usually expect to get groped, or at the very least, asked out, Nicolle concludes that "most of the time we've gotten a positive response. Oh, and also, after each show, either Dawn or Jill is bleeding."
While it's girl-positive, anyone can join Dance Club. Dance Club will reconvene at Nocturnal on Sun March 2 for The Locust show (Costume theme: dress up "ugly": mismatched sweatsuits, baggy old polyester secretary shirts, whatever looks disgusting and absurd. OWN YR UGLINESS!), and on Mon March 3 at Blackbird for the Milemarker show (Costume theme: in honor of Milemarker keyboardist/vocalist Roby Newton, the theme is "BALLERINAS.").
how to join dance club
Make an "all-access pass" with a photo of yourself that says "Dance Club." Make sure you include a new Dance Club name (i.e. Jill is "Jillbo Baggins," Nicole is "Coco 'Let's Roll' Orion," Dawn is "Valeria Killgore," Sarah is "Sarah 'September 11th' Delorey" and I am "Steezy Nix").
Get a costume, go to a bad hardcore show.
Dance all night, every night, period.
To find out about upcoming Dance Club events, email
firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "Subscribe" in the subject line.