One of the few things that heats up a winter's night more than a dance party? A dance competition. Yes, you heard right. Dance-offs aren't just for b-boys and Britney anymore — they're for all of us, and there's one coming to Portland, when New York Night Train DJ Jonathan Toubin brings his traveling dance party to SPACE Gallery on December 10.
Toubin is known nationwide for spinning classic, danceable soul and funk 45-rpm's at his "Soul Clap and Dance Off" parties. He gets the crowd amped with old-school get-on-up tunes (think James Brown and Jimmy Castor), then presides over a panel of "celebrity" judges (by local standards, anyway) who narrow the night's movers-and-shakers down to a one-on-one dance-off. The winner gets $100 (and eternal bragging rights, duh).
All levels of dance-technique and kindness are represented in SPACE's Soul Clap judging panel, and each of the arbiters is looking for something different. Here's the cheat-sheet:
• Sonya Tomlinson, a/k/a world's-sweetest-rapper Sontiago, says she's looking for "overall original steez."
• Tough-as-nails bartender Joe Ricchio says he'll settle only for "moves that make me cream myself repeatedly."
• Local writer and life-enthusiast Alex Steed rattles off his list of semi-nonsensical requirements, which includes spunk, razzmatazz, Jazzercise, and "riddim-response."
• Patrick O'Rorke, the artist, will be looking at the overall package; he wants to see "people taking chances that are dressed to impress. I can tell you what I'm not looking for and that's moonwalks and b-boy stances."
• Music promoter Lauren Wayne will pay attention to wardrobe choices, too. Here are her criteria: "Attitude, rhythm, what kind of shoes the contestants are wearing. I am a big fan of interpretive dancing." She adds the unvarnished truth: "Also, I am easily bribed."• Press Herald columnist and youth-expert Justin Ellis is also morally bankrupt, it seems. He claims to be looking for "the audacity of funk. Or bribes."
• And Rosa Noreen (a/k/a belly dancer Ayperi, a/k/a the only actual dance expert of the bunch) brightly says she's looking for "skill, creativity, and spirit!"
Of course, much depends on the overall vibe of the night. Earlier this year, Toubin described Soul Clap this way in the LA Record: "At its best it can be like church, and at its worst, The Gong Show. A lot of it depends on who turns up."
Let's see your best moves, Portland.
Soul Clap and Dance Off will be at SPACE Gallery (538 Congress St.; 207.828.5600) on Thursday, December 10, at 9 pm. Admission is $5 and the event is 18+. Tickets are available in advance at Bull Moose locations and throughspace538.org. See video footage of the dancers after the event atthephoenix.com/AboutTown.