My sister had a party not long ago, a self-organized self-indulgent Birthday party; it was one of those Waaaaaaaayyyyyy Over The Top Black Tie Affair Jammies. So as family do, we all attended and grinned and tolerated it for the LOVE OF FAMILY. Before the end of this "Self Indulgence of Grandeur", the DJ announced that it was time to do the Soul Train Line and he dedicated it to my sister. By the way, did I mention that my sister is a DIVA?
So we all got up and lined up, Men on one side, Women on the other. Some were excited to get up and flaunt their hot mini dresses (a shitty mess if I ever saw) and ther MOVIE HAIR, the fellahs were trying to set themselves up to get with the HOTTIE across from them (last chance for a post-party bootycall) and show just how much gyration they had left in their hips. Then there were my Parents, Brother and younger Sisters whom all had that, “Oh I am so over this” look on the face, and then there was ME, the oldest of the family and HOT to make a fool out of myself. Ol’ ASS ME, in a suit, giving everyone my best Cellie shimmy between a corridor of Black Folk bent on reliving a cultural ritual. A ritual that connected every generation in the room to each other through music, laughter and dance. Fun was had by all, and we all came home satisfied that we continued a tradition of the Soul Train Line that will out live and remain current far longer that the “slide” up to that funny Soulja Boy dance he’s pawning off.
That was then, this is now.
Lately I have been a night owl. Not a good thing on my part because now, in the daytime, I am like Fred Sanford talking to Aunt Ester, "EVIL to the core. I don’t like anything or anyone until the afternoon. Since I try not to pollute my mind with the idiot box, I temper what I watch which is usually the NEWS or the History Channel. So this particular afternoon, as I began to become normal and accept the fact that I am part of the HUMAN RACE, I saw Soul Train was about to come on. I had gotten away from the show for a while, back since the days of SHEmar Moore. I mean Don Cornelius was the MAN. That tall ass 'RANG-A-TANG of a man intimidated everyone that came on the show. Brotha could palm your face with his index finger and thumb and still slap yo’ ass with a pinkie. I LOVE IT cause you had to come correct and if you didn’t, you felt a CHILL IN THE AIR, like the music industry Mafia was waiting in the wings to bust you up some. You had to SING and DANCE and TALK, none of that scripted RAP or Fluff. THE DON had no problems asking what your mother’s name is, your church you attended and the last time you were there, if you could actually READ and WRITE music and if you couldn't THE DON asked you "WHY NOT"? He was THE DON and everyone kissed his ring for acceptance. Then SHEmar Moore took his place and that was when I knew The Don wanted a more hands off on the hosting.
I understood why Shemar Moore was there. He was the eye-candy for the GIRLS and GURLZ, with his Pretty Ass Self. Problem I had was, he was trying to play like he was hardcore and a THUG. No No No No No, Negro was a bi-racial (confused) little boy traveling the WORLD and living in AFRICA. Last I checked the Bloods and Crips didn’t quite reach that far – YET. I mean, SHEmar didn’t even grow up eating Government cheese (then again he could have eaten African Government Goat made with Rhino Blood for all I know but its not the same as the ORANGE BLOCKS here in America) but still he was not hardly HARDCORE or Ghetto so I was like “Auuggghhh, Don’t Talk!! Just smile, lick your lips and keep your shirt open and show the nipple for the ladies.”
Then there was Dorian Gregory, MR CHARMED himself. He tried the Hardcore thing too but all I kept seeing was the dorky kid that use to have a runny nose back in the day who read comic books and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch all the time (sorry, I’m channeling MORNING TIME RIGHT NOW, I’LL CALM DOWN SOME). Then they took it a step further and was dressing him is Bozo Gear by Jay-Z and Puffy. It was like watching my father being dressed by those QUEER GUYS FOR STR8 GUYS but could only shop in 125th Street in Harlem on a welfare budget. “Come on, ladies, you can’t possibly tell me Mr. Charmed looked good in 8 Ball jackets saying Yo Yo Yo all the time?” I kept hoping those three little White girls came a chanting, "THE POWER OF THREE WILL SET YOU FREE." It never happened and eventually he was taken back to the WB or to some Never Never Land or OZ or some magical place called Hollywood.
Yet I continued to watch occasionally, even when they threw Nick Cannon up there. He was good considering the direction of the show, Young, Hip-Hop, Rap and Lip-Sync’ing. I knew then that you weren’t going to get people like Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, The Isley Brothers, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Roy Ayers, Keith Sweat, Take 6, Brian McKnight, Aaron Neville, Will Downing, Kenny Lattimore, Regina Belle, or a Yolanda Adams to appear anymore. I like Nick and all but he is a BABY compared to these music legends and mainstays. I mean what is he really going to ask them, “So do your kids have the new PLAYSTATION and can you DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT?” That was when I stopped watching, as I can also assume, did many others that grew up on the TRAIN.
Then something wonderful happened. THE DON, in his greatness decided to NIX the Modern Train and go back to the Basics with Classic Soul Train. Now we see all the re-runs of the Train dating back 30 years. I AM LOVIN’ IT. Not only does SOUL TRAIN air the classics, where I am, it comes on in the early afternoon and late evenings. I get a double shot of nostalgia. I sit with family as we talk about the music and the fashions. It’s like looking at your parent’s Yearbook …. better yet, my younger brother and sisters looking at mine. "Yeah, THE TRAIN got it all, the Bell Bottoms, Lifts and High Heels, Afro and Afro Puffs, Big Ass Chains, Big Vibrant Colors, Tight Pants, Brothas Twirling, On the Floor Crawling, On the Floor on Their backs, On the Floor with Their Legs in the Air, On the Floor with Their Legs Spread in the Air, Splitting, High Kicking Pass Their Ears and Shaking it Harder than the Women, Colorful Ascots Around the Neck, Shirts Tied in a Mid-Rift …..HEY … WAIT A MINUTE …. YO THESE KATS ARE GAY !!! OH MY GOD, I HAVE BEEN MIND RAPED AND DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT. "
For years I have been doing the Soul Train Line and picking up my SMOOTH MOVES from the Rocketts and I was none the knowing. "Oooooooo DON I’m coming to CHICAGO AN’ GiTTin’ Yo Black Ass." You tried to turn me out. Where’s Mitt Romney, where’s Mike Huckabee, where’s Donnie McClurkin, where is Barak Obama, where’s 911?
Man I look at my SOUL TRAIN now and not only reminisce about the good ol’ days, the music, the idea of my being at a certain place in my life when performers appeared on the show, but I am also reminded of how innocent my mind was as a child and also how deep the Black Community’s practice of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was a big part of our culture when it came to Soul Train. It’s so much like the Church preaching how HELL has 5 Star Hotels Suites waiting for Homosexuals and then turning to the choir to lead the congregation in sending them off promptly and by first class ala the BIBLE and a little song.
I asked my mother about Soul Train and she was like, “STOP IT. That is not true. Everyone danced like that. Even you.”
Oooooooo I didn’t like how that sound. Soul Train had me a bell-bottom, big shoe wearing, Afro carrying, tight pint-striped pant wearing, shiny shirt showing, hip wiggling, multiple turn-spinning Drag Queen in training?
“Mom do you have any pictures or movies of me?”
“No but I think your uncle have a few cause you swore you were Michael Jackson when you were younger. Big pants and doing that Soul Train dance. You sure loved you some Soul Train dancing.”
Then I began to remember it all. How I channeled little Michael Jackson and the clothes and why I now have a Trick Hip and then I start the SCREAMING IN MY HEAD.