The faint smell of booze and smoke lingers in the air, easily intoxicating anyone who is sober.
Seconds before showtime, the music fades and the feedback of the microphone is increased as Carey Ysais, host and director, greets the audience with his usual, “Are you ready for some Carnivvvvvvvvvvvaaaaaaaaaaaaal?”
Hoots and hollers from the Hollywood crowd lets Yasis know they are ready to get the show started. In almost no time, he replies that they are in for a good time, and without further ado he lets the black velvet curtains open and a small set of women, dressed in what appears to be a different color sundress, walk to the front of the stage to begin their act.
A dance routine nowadays will often feature a variety of sounds and moves. During this particular night at the Key Club, loud drums that blend with psychedelic vocals are quickly interrupted by vibrant bass bumps and silky rhymes, thus providing a continuous, fresh sound that a music lover can appreciate.
The heads bob in the crowd, shoulders “pop” with the funky beat and denim-painted booties sway with the noise. A sea of onlookers tighten together within the venue as a mix of cheers and “whoas” encourage the performer to step up the act.
As the song goes, “I’ve got the music in me,” and the intensity in the dancers’ eyes prove that statement.
Times sure have changed since the high school days of break dancing on a flat cardboard box between class and lunch. Nowadays, dance is an ever-growing phenomenon invading all sorts of social aspects from popular to posh couture.
Bravo’s “Step It Up ‘ Dance,” along with Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?” not to mention the show that would spawn more to come, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” are the latest dance competition reality series infiltrating the airwaves for millions of loyal viewers.
Teen-filled movies such as “Stump the Yard,” “Step Up” and “Save the Last Dance,” which often followed the “I’m rich, you’re poor, but who cares when we dance?” fommula entertained enough of a fan base to keep this perpetual momentum of dance fever.
Not that this fever hasn’t been evident in previous generations. “Saturday Night Fever,” anyone? But it seems modern times will naturally have modern routines, as all kinds of new advancements, such as technology and body physics, have given the dance community an opportunity to become body poets.
Entertainment and fashion have dance- inspired garnishes to be mixed with everyday apparel.
Shoes, known to be one of a lady’s best friends, have found a new purpose for ballet flats, the perfect accessory if she decides to dress up, yet stay casual and more comfortable. And entertainers such as Justin Timberlake and Usher helped men give new life to the fedora since Indiana Jones.
Video streaming on the Internet has vastly increased the exposure of performers, thanks in part to popular up-loadable sites, not to mention the increased exposure of dance competitions held worldwide. It has been home for the past nine years to dancers that have torn up the Key Club’s stage thousands times, if not millions.
Several groups that have put on shows have even ventured off for their 15 minutes of fame, some competing for MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.” It is also no secret that many celebrities go to Carnival to be entertained, such as Raven-Symon’eacute; hanging out in one of the VIP booths with her entourage or Janet Jackson upstairs in the shadows.
What began as a small choreographers’ showcase developed into a big success that has a reputation throughout the world. Carnival is held twice a year in London and in New York City, as well as the last Wednesday of every month,except for holidays in LA. Each show has a different line-up of choreographed dances from many parts of the globe: Ballet, modern, jazz, burlesque, old school and hip-hop, just to list the various body interruptions performed by people who are just as diverse.
The mutual love for those who want to be wowed and those who want to do the wowing feeds the soul and psyche of all who participate. Dance, after all, is a universal language that knows no boundaries or discrimination. Such a power of dance and music harmonizing together will continue to grow deeper and infect more individuals so long as there will always be a place to lay out cardboard.