by The Urban Blabbermouth
Tony Manero always danced. He would walk through the rooms of his home twitching some bodily part to the tat tat tat taaa beat pulsing in his head. Sometimes he would meet his mom in the living room and he would grab her hand and dance around her while she stood there and laugh at him. At the moment, Tony's biggest dream, in fact his only known ambition, was to be the Dance King of Brooklyn.
His plan was to first win the monthly disco dance competition at his local dance hall, Club 2001 Odyssey. For months now, Tony came in second to someone better.
To improve and to win, Tony would visit other dance clubs to see what other dancers were doing and what exciting choreography he could pick up from them. Once, he made the effort to go into Manhattan to the famed Studio 54 club. He did not learn any new moves from there but he did catch a quick glimpse of the infamous owner, Steve Rubell.
In desperation, Tony would to go into black dance clubs. It was a risky adventure as white Italian boys were not so welcomed by the Black patrons. He did understand their animosity towards him as a stranger, an intruder, and as a white man among them. This was their refuge from the travails of the world and here he was, a white man, invading it and bringing all the reminders of a harsher reality into their fantasy room. Tony wanted to win his dance competition and if that meant taking a risk, braving their hostility, the assault of looks, words, or fists, then so be it.
Tony did learn from his excursion into the black clubs how skilled and creative the black dancers were. He hurried home to practice and the next day, rushed to the Phillips Dance Studio to continue his workout. Despite the hours and all the effort, Tony could not emulate the black dancers.
One evening while practicing in his room, Tony cried out in frustration, “I can’t, I can’t. I wish I could but I can't. I wish I could dance like a black man.”
Suddenly, in a bright light, clouded with smoke, appeared a black man. He was dressed in an outlandish outfit, a rose colored leisure suit, a light red Hawaiian shirt with large white flowers imprinted all over, and red platform shoes only to be outdone by the blood red top hat perched on his head.
"Who are you?" asked a surprised Tony.
"Tony, my darling boy, I am called Baron Samedi," said the black man, as he, top hat now in hand, swung his arms out in an welcoming manner and bowed. "I am here to help you with your dancing."
It may seem strange that an African prince of voodoo would appear to help an Italian kid from Brooklyn. But, this is New York City, the great melting pot of the world and that also applies to mystical and magical creatures. They could not be so selective in the New World. In three generations hence, Tony's family will have many non-Italians members - Irish, Jewish, and yes, a black woman or two. Mystical and magical creatures had to keep up.
"How can you help me?" asked Tony
"I can grant you dance skills beyond any you have seen. You will have moves that astonish and amaze. You will win your contest, become the king of your club, and if you want, greater fame."
"And the catch is?"
"No catch just a straight forward bargain. One year of service to me and you get your championship."
"Oh nothing illegal or difficult. Mostly delivering packages to my clients for me. I make and sell magical charms. They are very valuable so I need people whom I can trust to deliver them for me."
"OK, I can do that. It's a deal," said Tony.
There is no need to go into the dramatics of the next disco dance contest for there were none. Tony won easily. His choreography was beautiful, complex, and a grade better than his competition. It was obvious to all that there was a new disco dance king. Tony paraded around the dance floor with his trophy held high to the praise and accolades of the audience. As he sat at his table with his friends, Tony received his competitors like the king he now was and they bowed to him and express their admiration of his dancing prowess. If he did not think it profane – for it was a papal gesture of respect - Tony would have made his competitors kiss his ring in supplication.
Throughout the night as The Hustle or one of Donna Summer's songs played, Tony leaped onto the dance floor and commenced to dance his signature move of the night, known today as The Manero. He would swing his arms across his torso with his index finger pointing at the rotating disco ball glittering in the club's ceiling then swing his arm again across his torso to point at the floor flashing with strobe lights. The move was accompanied with wild erotic gyrations of his hips, the heat of which could be felt by the women present as well as the men, who of course interpreted the feeling as hero worship.
In the early morning as Club 2001 Odyssey was winding to a close, Tony and his friends were leaving for their customary and now celebratory trip to the Verrazano Bridge, when Baron Samedi appeared.
Tony greeted him, "I won, I won, thanks to you. You kept your part of the agreement. It was better than I imagined."
"Congratulations and you are welcome," said the smiling Baron Samedi. "I still have to fulfill the second part of your wish."
"The second part? What second part?" asked Tony.
"You wished that you could dance like a black man. So, tomorrow morning, you will awaken as a black man."