Editor’s Pick
MAY 17, 2012 2:39PM

The Last Dance of our youth?

Rate: 2 Flag
Donna Summer, Last Dance, music

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Oddly enough, the first time I ever heard the entire song was during a closed-circuit feed run by ABC. In the old days before satellites, when networks still relied on the phone company's microwave network for their signals, before each football game a couple of engineering guys would get on camera and detail how the feeds would be routed. These feeds were an impromptu rat's maze, and they needed to share the information, so you wouldn't suddenly lose the Monday Night Football game and get everyone angry at you.

Well, there was the last technical cast of the season - it turns out, the last they ever did, since they could communicate via e-mail much easier. So, for the last time these guys would ever telecast, they brought out champagne at the end, and the soundtrack had the live version of "Last Dance" playing. The one where, at the music break, the audience breaks out into cheers.

I'm a white guy, meaning I can't dance. I didn't listen to disco as much as tolerate it. But hearing this unexpected song, at the end of a particular era of broadcasting, was actually entertaining and surprising.

Years later, I heard Summer sing a concert on VH1, with "Last Dance" as the lost song. It didn't have the same effect. It wasn't the intervening years, as much as that the subject of that music - trying to hook up at the end of a night at a disco - seemed so desperate and disappointing. Hearing the song at a technical conference was a peek into a world I would never exist in. Hearing it later was a reminder of the shambles that world produced, and how lucky it was that I never entered it, and how sad that so many people did.