St. Paul Pioneer Press
July 21, 1997
Where you gonna dance?
From hip musicians to wild-and-crazy
mayors, here are picks for best local dance spots
By Jim Walsh
pop music critic
What's your favorite place to dance, and why? That's the question
the Dancing Diaries-keeper posed to a variety of dancers, DJ and dilettantes. The
- Joanne Horn, dancer, Jazzdance by Danny Buraczeski and The
Flying Foot Forum: "Because I dance for a living, I don't go out dancing
that much. But when I do, it's usually with other members of the company. We go to
the Lounge (411 Second Avenue N., Mpls.) because they play disco, and familiar stuff
like James Brown or "I Will Survive'' -- that kind of groove. And the Gay Nineties
(408 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.) is such an unassuming atmosphere. The mix never stops,
and because the dance floor is packed, you can just get lost. It's not so much of
a meat market, whereas the Lounge on Saturday nights can be too much."
- DJ Woody McBride, founder, internationally recognized electronica
label Communique Records: "Being a DJ for a living, I don't go out to dance
all that much, so when I do, my dancing consists mostly of toe-tapping. Thursdays
at the Front (15 N.E. Fourth St., Mpls.) are great, and I'm always up for the Latin
Sounds Orchestra, wherever they might be. After I do a show, I usually get my fill
at a warehouse somewhere at 5 a.m. with a 10-foot-high sound system. Then there's
First Avenue (701 N. First Ave., Mpls.), which always has a great aesthetic, and
that's important. And for metal, there's Ryan's (Fourth and Sibley, St. Paul). A
lot of people think clubbers are the only ones who dance, but those rockers can get
down pretty good, too."
- Mindy Ratner, weekday morning host of MPR's classical music
station KSJN (99.5 FM): "Most of the dancing I do is at Tapestry Folkdance
Center (at Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St., Mpls.). I met my sweetheart
at Tapestry. The thing that's great about New England contra dancing is it's a very
sociable activity. There are couples, but there are a lot of new people who come
every week, and people who come alone. In my profession, I spend a lot of time in
a room talking to people I can't see, and who can't see me, so I love being with
people, and that feeling of connectedness."
- Sharon Sayles Belton, mayor of Minneapolis: "When
I was in college at Macalester, I was in an African dance group called Feast of the
Circle Dancers, and we performed on campus and around the cities. But these days,
my favorite place to dance is in my living room in front of the fireplace with my
- J.G. Everest, singer/guitarist/bassist, the Sensational Joint
Chiefs: "I like dancing to live hip-hop, and anywhere Casino Royale is playing
is good for that. And the (Gay) Nineties is good for techno."
- Norm Coleman, mayor of St. Paul: "The last time my
wife Lori, who used to be a ballerina with the Minnesota Dance Theatre, went out
dancing was at South Beach (325 N. First Ave., Mpls.) about a year ago. Other than
that, my dancing has been relegated strictly to Polish weddings. If you know some
hot spots in St. Paul, let me know and we'll check 'em out."
- Jennifer Downham, host of "Groove Garden" on KFAI
(90.3 FM/106.7 FM) and roving DJ at the Front and Biscuits & Blues (430 N. First
Ave., Mpls.): "I don't mean to grandstand, but Wednesdays and Thursdays
at the Front are great fun. It's more of a spontaneous thing; it doesn't have that
big disco club feel. It's more intimate. It's not a meat market, where people are
constantly checking each other out. It's more free, and there are no rules."
- Yvonne Viehman, co-host, with her husband Dan, of the cable
access TV show "Get Up And Dance!" which starts this fall: "For
east and west coast swing dancing, and swing dancing in general, Country Rodeo in
Cottage Grove is the place to go on Wednesday and Saturday nights; it's hot, hot,
hot. Orrie's Bar and Grill (Bandana Square, St. Paul) is also great for swing dancing,
as is Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues (Calhoun Square, Uptown Minneapolis)."
- Fancy Ray McCloney, media superstar and host of cable access
mainstay "Get Down With It!": "The best dance floor in town is
First Avenue, hands down. And the Quest (110 N. Fifth St., Mpls.) has it all: good
music, a good vibe and good energy, and a good light show. Last, my favorite place
to dance is on stage at the Cabooze with Greazy Meal playing -- while looking in
the mirror. A-rooo."
- Julius Collins, singer, Greazy Meal: "I don't enjoy
dancing, and when I do, it's usually in an altered state. So when I do it, I like
someplace where the environment is nutty and free. Which, for me, means the Nineties
or the Saloon (830 Hennepin Ave., Mpls)."
- Robyne Robinson, anchorwoman and host of "The Buzz!"
on KMSP-TV: "I like acid jazz and hard grooves, and the Front on Wednesdays
and Thursdays are great for that. Also, the Lounge is good for pure funk.
- Leslie Ball, singer/songwriter and founder of the late-night
cabaret "Balls": Sunday nights at Lee's Liquor Bar (11th and Glenwood,
Mpls.), with the "Cosmic Slop'' guys from Radio K. Because it's completely unpretentious,
and I remember all the music."
- Chuck Tomlinson, co-host of Radio K's "Cosmic Slop"
(770 AM): "I guess I have to plug our Sunday night thing at Lee's, where
we basically take the radio show on the road. We play a lot of funk and R&B,
and by the end of the night, people are drunk enough so they want to hear disco.
I'm also a fan of the Lounge. They've got some sharp DJs, and the music appeals to
the record collector-head in me."
- Barb Cohen, singer/songwriter, Brother Sun Sister Moon:
"The disco room at the Nineties. The music is always really good, and you can
get as wild as you want, and nobody looks at you twice. They just go about their
business, dancing their tushes off."
- Lori Barbero, drummer/singer/songwriter, Babes In Toyland:
"The upstairs room behind the disco near the drag bar at the Nineties. There's
a DJ up there who looks like a female Howard Stern, and she spins on Thursday, Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday nights -- great disco stuff, and she shows videos of ABBA and
Donna Summer and other cool stuff.
- Alan Freed, founder, the (unplugged) pirate
radio station Beat Radio: "In my book, we have only five major clubs. And
First Avenue is the best. I like Thursdays ("Love Drops'') and Fridays ("Danceteria''),
because it sounds very much like what we were doing on the station.
- Freddie Bell, operations manager/morning show host, Solid Gold
Soul (950 AM KSGS-AM): "These days I don't get much of a chance to dance,
but when my bride and I do, it's whenever we meet with First Fridays, the premiere
informal networking association for African-American professionals. They meet every
first Friday of the month, and I'm their emcee. They have some of the best DJs in
the country in Brother Jules, Joe Burell, and Fast Eddie, who play a lot of the music
we play on Solid Gold Soul ('60s and '70s soul and funk), as well as some new hip-hop
and R&B. But probably my favorite place to really cut loose is at home -- with
friends who won't laugh at us too much."
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