Funkytown

Retro music can mean dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. For some, it is the rock of Led Zep and per­haps Rolling Stones, for oth­ers, the pop of Abba and Boney M and for still oth­ers, the jazz from that time.

Dur­ing par­ties and on the dance floor how­ever, retro specif­i­cally refers to the dance songs we grew up with…despite all the new Hindi music that also gets us onto the floor sim­ply because our brains are so com­fort­able with the lyrics and visu­als they come with, we are also hard-wired to a cer­tain set of “disco” songs from the 70s and 80s.

No song epit­o­mises that bet­ter than Funky­town, by Lipps, Inc (pro­nounced Lip Sync). While I was danc­ing to Funky­town on New Year’s Eve, my brain, a mush of var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of dark and clear liq­uids, wan­dered lazily towards try­ing to make sense of Funkytown.

We were in our 10th Std, going onto Junior Col­lege, when it hit the charts. Despite the ges­ta­tion period that most Eng­lish songs had before they hit Indian shores, this one became pop­u­lar vir­tu­ally instan­ta­neously. Funky­town refers to New York, which the band wanted to move to from Min­neapo­lis. The song was per­haps the last “great” disco song, with noth­ing really going for it but its one silly beat and banal lyrics…and yet it gets into your head and refuses to leave…as is hap­pen­ing right now while I am writ­ing this.

And then Door­dar­shan played the Funky­town video on one of the New Year’s Eve night pro­grams. My mem­ory is fuzzy and I don’t remem­ber whether this was before the Asian Games on B/W TV (1980, 1981) or after (1982), once color TV came in, but I remem­ber that the video had these women in black (so it could have been B/W or color), with trans­par­ent tops that showed every­thing and left noth­ing to the imag­i­na­tion. This was early 1980s and the Funky­town video on DD became a huge talk­ing point among us hor­mon­ally chal­lenged boys for the next few days. I am not sure if the DD employee who green-signaled the video knew about it, did it inten­tion­ally, whether DD real­ized this, and/or if the per­son respon­si­ble faced any con­se­quences. The next time we saw trans­par­ent tops like these was when Fash­ion TV hit our screens in the mid-2000s.

For retro-junkies like us, there is now even a web­site (www.funkytown.com) that tries hard to cap­i­tal­ize on the “Funky­town” movement. 

Like Funky­town, there are many other “retro” num­bers that can get us onto the floor. None how­ever beats “Foot­loose” by Kenny Log­gins, which is an instant “switch-on” and if fol­lowed with a prop­erly tem­poed selec­tion that includes The Bee Gees, ABBA, Jim Mor­ri­son, etc. can keep us on the floor for hours.

Just like every per­son with a cam­era is not a pho­tog­ra­pher, every indi­vid­ual with head­phones, a playlist and the abil­ity to spin, is not a DJ. Con­sis­tently over the last year, I have seen so-called DJs who play one or two rock­ing num­bers to get peo­ple on the floor and then fol­low up with some rub­bish that actu­ally emp­ties the floor. Even a lag of 10–20 sec­onds between songs makes a huge dif­fer­ence. A good DJ, espe­cially a retro-DJ is not cheap, does not get thrown-in with the cater­ing and dec­o­ra­tions and should be able to ensure a packed floor with­out any let-up.

If you start with Foot­loose, have Funky­town and YMCA thrown in some­where, add stuff from Sat­ur­day Night Fever and lots of ABBA, you can’t go wrong, as long as you keep the tempo steady and going.

Retro rocks!

3 Comments

  • Retro music is no more pop­u­lar as DJs have lim­ited audi­ence and for the elite mid­dle class.

    Rock music is dimin­ish­ing in our country.

  • Bhuvana Ramsay wrote:

    Your post rekin­dled mem­o­ries, and yes funky town was and still is a big hit for meso much so , it’s the ring­tone ‚when my hus­band calls. Noth­ing like the retro music to get us on the dance floor faster, we are plan­ning a reunion this year and these songs are on top of the list. a s always enjoyed your post. Happy 2014.

  • Armaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Wish you a Very Happy 2014.
    Thanks for your email keep send­ing.
    No com­ments on this.

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