By Rayceen Pendarvis
It Ain’t Over Until the “Phat” Lady Sings!
There is nothing like an ovah beat and a legendary diva singing to make your body move. Many of us have had the experience of watching the clock while working on a Friday afternoon. Waiting for it to strike quitting time, and then running, leaping, or twirling out onto the street like a superhero, ready to hit all the clubs in a single night. After working all week, we want a release, an escape, and an opportunity to feel the adrenaline pumping through our bodies – for many of us that meant going to the discotheque.
Music was the drug that brought us a rush of jubilation. The DJ was our pusher, giving us our fix of Funk, Soul, Disco, and House. We let our troubles dissipate with every note sung by Martha Wash, Gloria Gaynor, Linda Crawford, Jocelyn Brown, Chaka Khan, Loleatta Holloway, and Sylvester – those divas of the dance floor who had curves, attitude, and sublime vocal prowess. We swayed and shook in unison as we snapped our fingers and clapped our hands. Unified by the beat, we reached our arms towards the heavens and moved together on the dance floor. The club became the Church of Immaculate Rhythm; the DJ was the pastor, the divas were the choir, and we all caught the Holy Spirit!
Those masters of the turntables – Frankie Knuckles, Tee Scott, Larry Levan, Steve “Silk” Hurley, DJ Mandrill, DJ “Sam the Man” Burns, DJ Sedrick, Vjuan Allure, DJ Suspence, DJ India, Lady Miss Kier, DJ Spinderella – were why Paradise Garage, The Clubhouse, Tracks, Catacombs, The Generator, Last Stop, Studio 54, The Limelight, Second Story, Jewel’s Catch One, The Delta Elite, Zanzibar, Odell’s, and The Sound Factory turned New York, DC, Philly, Baltimore, LA, Chicago, and Atlanta into meccas of the beat. Across the country, and all over the world, we danced in harmony to the vocal harmonies of Labelle, First Choice, The Three Degrees, and Sister Sledge. Their individual voices were the quality ingredients that, once mixed together, created recipes for the tastiest jams.
While many of the “phat” ladies were full-figured dames who could hit high notes that would cause the children to dip and flip (and some octaves so high only dogs could hear them), there were some dolls who could wear the Dance Floor Queen crown, but wouldn’t get their gown at Lane Bryant. Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Barbara Tucker, Candi Staton, Jody Watley, Crystal Waters, and CeCe Peniston delivered many hits, sometimes in high fashion and couture. With a catalogue of hits, they proved they were more than just pretty faces.
I may not rush out to hit the clubs as I once did – and certainly not multiple clubs in one night – but I can still shake a tail feather. My new hip is still working and I’m gonna get my money’s worth! It ain’t over until the “phat” lady sings!
Rayceen’s Top 10 Club Classics:
- First Choice “It’s Not Over”
- Linda Clifford “Runaway”
- MFSB featuring The Three Degrees “Love Is the Message”
- Diana Ross “Love Hangover”
- Two Tons O’ Fun “Just Us”
- Sylvester “Over and Over”
- Sister Sledge “Lost in Music”
- Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive”
- Loleatta Holloway “Hit and Run”
- Jocelyn Brown “Somebody Else’s Guy”