I was clearing out my desk at home and stumbled over an old cassette tape—a dance mix that my friend and former housemate Lawrence Fine and I put together for our annual Halloween party.
Had no idea what was on the tape but I dug out an old boombox that plays cassettes and popped it in. Here’s what we were shaking our moneymakers to on Halloween night of ‘89, just a few days before the Berlin Wall came crashing down...
Chaka Khan – “Signed, Sealed Delivered”
Greg Kihn Band – “Our Love’s in Jeopardy”
Marvin Gaye – “Heard it through the Grapevine”
Katrina and the Waves – “I’m Walking through Sunshine”
Edgar Winter’s Band – “Give it Everything You Got”
The Fixx – “One Thing Leads to Another”
Power Station (with Robert Palmer) – “Some Like it Hot”
Yes – “Owner of a Lonely Heart”
The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”
Wang Chung – “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight”
Herbie Hancock – “Rockit”
Michael Jackson – “Thriller”
If you want a dance mix now, you get on your iPhone, pluck some tunes from your list and you’re all set. Takes fifteen, twenty minutes. Back in the day you had to grab an album, put the needle on the blank spot and turn on the cassette deck. And if the record skipped fifteen seconds before the end of the cut you cussed, backed up the tape and recorded something else over it. Lawrence and I spent a week making that thing.
But it was worth it; our annual Halloween party was circled in red on our friends’ social calendars. The hangout, eat and drink area was on the first floor; the basement dance room was tricked out with lights and a killer sound system. And we had themes: one year it was the Wizard of Oz. I rented a scruffy Cowardly Lion outfit, but Lawrence wouldn’t settle for no steenkin’ rental. A master craftsman, he bought a roll of roofing tin and spent a month before the party making an incredible Tin Man outfit with articulated joints. He could have won any costume contest in Boston with that thing, but he was perfectly happy to wear it at our party, collect his rightful share of “oooohs” and “ahhhhs”, and hang it on the wall afterwards.
One year I went as Tammy Faye Baker (big blonde wig, lavender gown, fake eyelashes and hyperbolic makeup.) Another time, in a nod to my Catholic schoolboy roots, I bought a nun’s outfit at a costume shop and wandered the party as “Nun of the Above.” Someone asked, “Tell me sister, which of the snacks your friends have provided does the Lord like most?”
I calmly replied, “All snacks are created equal in the eyes of God.”
Charles Coe is author of two books of poetry: “All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents” and “Picnic on the Moon,” both published by Leapfrog Press. His poetry has appeared in a number of literary reviews and anthologies, including Poesis, The Mom Egg, Solstice Literary Review, and Urban Nature. He is the winner of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Charles’s poems have been set by a number of composers, including Beth Denisch, Julia Carey and Robert Moran. A short film based on his poem “Fortress” is currently in production by filmmaker Roberto Mighty. Charles is co-chair of the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, a labor union for freelance writers. He was selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light for 2014.” His novella, "Spin Cycles," was published in November, 2014 by Gemma Media.