Let’s Dance

The applause continues after he walks through the curtains. Backstage, Lady Verona is leaning against a table getting a blowjob from someone Leon doesn’t recognize. She lets out a sudden cry, and The Queen chuckles into the microphone. “It sounds like Leon isn’t the only one making it rain.” An echoing laugh ripples through the audience.

Leon leaves through a side door. Outside it’s dark and, if not exactly quiet, at least muffled. He takes a few steps away from the building and a few deep breaths, wipes sweat from his face.

He hasn’t been to church in years. He couldn’t really say exactly what he believes in anymore. But under the dark July sky he gazes up, presses two fingertips to his lips, and releases a kiss to the heavens. Maybe it’s to God.

Maybe it’s to the memory of his mother.

He lingers for one more breath. Then he makes for the back door.

Sorrento sees him first and wraps him in a crushing hug. “That was amazing,” he says into Leon’s hair. “You and me, man. You and me. We are gonna tear the fucking roof off.”

They embrace for several seconds, then Leon retakes his seat at the front. People whisper congratulations to him from every direction and reach to shake his hand. He basks in the praise.

“Alright everyone,” The Queen says, taking the microphone again. “We only have two acts left.” The audience makes disappointed noises on cue.

“But I promise you’re going to love this next one. Put your hands together for our very own Chain.”

Another Madonna song starts up, and the audience cheers as they immediately recognize the opening notes of “Like a Virgin.” Chain steps through on the last beat of the intro.

He moves like a model on a catwalk. “I made it through the wilderness.” His body rolls twice from pelvis to shoulders on the synth hits. “Somehow I made it through.” Beat. Beat. “Didn’t know how lost I was until I found you.”

Sinclair is the first to start waving a dollar bill. Chain sashays over and bends to take it with his teeth. Men and women alike howl.

He struts back to center stage and unbuckles his harness. “But you made me feel, yeah you made me feel shiny and new.” He rips the harness off and tosses it aside.

“Like a virgin, hey! Touched for the very first time. Like a virgin, when your heart beats next to mine.”

More clothing comes off, all while the boy gyrates hypnotically. More dollars are waving in the air. Chain saunters by the front row and hands stuff bills into his waistband.

At the bridge he drops to the floor and crawls toward them, slow and catlike. Leon pounds his knee with a fist. He needs to fuck this boy, and soon.

Just before the end Chain turns around and puts his fingers in the waist of his boxers. Looks over his shoulder. Tosses the audience a saucy grin.

He flips the band down, makes an O face, flips it back up, and flounces through the curtain.

It takes a few minutes before the stomping and whistling subsides.

“I’m afraid,” The Queen says with dramatic sorrow, “that this is our final act for the evening. But don’t be sad, the disco starts right after them, and I hope you’ll all stay to dance.”

More cheering. More clapping.

“Please welcome to the stage… Urban Renaissance!”

Simon wheels out a synthesizer, while Rain carries a mic stand. Skye stands to one side, letting the other two handle trivialities like setup.

“We are Urban Renaissance,” Rain says when the band’s various instruments are in place. “And we want you to clear this fucking dance floor! Get these benches out of here and let’s fucking dance!

Their opening strains sound like early Beatles. Twist and Shout? Leon thinks.

Abruptly it breaks out with a driving bass line and a heavy backbeat, with quick chords from Rain’s guitar laid over it in a disco-like counter rhythm. Post disco, he remembers Rain saying. It’s funk. It’s rock. It’s dance.

It’s like nothing he’s heard before.

Rain and Simon come in as backup singers. “Let’s dance!” Skye steps up to the mic and turns a smoldering look on the audience. “Put on your red shoes and dance the blues.”

Let’s dance!

“To the sound they’re playing on the radio.”

Let’s sway!

“While color lights up your face.”

Let’s sway!

“Sway through the crowd to an empty space.”

And then the music changes again, keeping the bass but laying dreamy vocal harmonies and a long notes pulled from Rain’s guitar over it.

“If you say run, I’ll run with you,” Skye croons. “And if you say hide, we’ll hide.”

Hide, ahhhh-ahhhh-ahhhh.

“Because my love for you would break my heart in two.”

They drop into the “Twist and Shout” intro again, laying one voice over another in simple thirds.

“If you should fall into my arms, tremble like a flower!”

There’s hardly space on the dance floor, and Leon is in the middle of it. Hips bump and gyrate, arms thrust into the air.

He can’t take his eyes off of Rain.

The guitarist’s own eyes are closed, his head down and bobbing with the beat. He rocks back and forth as he plays, his frenetic energy focused and channeled through his instrument. His movements are seductive, and yet Leon senses it’s unconscious on Rain’s part.

And the lyrics. What sounded ridiculous earlier suddenly makes sense. It is dance music, and it is poetry at the same time. It’s irresistible.

Oh, fuck.

“Like a Virgin” © Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, 1984
“Let’s Dance” © David Bowie, 1982

Songs used without permission.

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