Here at Nostalgia King it’s obvious that we love all things vintage and as DJ’s who love the authentic and vintage sounds of vinyl, music is our core focus. But music isn’t just made for listening in the comforts of your home, it’s made to be played for people to dance to and it doesn’t get more vintage than having on of the cities best Go-Go dancers performing on the box to your selections on a regular basis. If you’ve been following my Instagram page for the last year or so then you’ve obviously seen my posts on one of my favorite places in the world to play at, The Trestle Inn, whiskey and Go-Go bar. What’s unique about The Trestle Inn is, besides that fact that it’s a vinyl only venue, it’s that they believe in giving you an experience not found elsewhere in the city by having a staff of amazing and beautiful Go-Go dancers to enhance the musical selections. One of the dancers who many of my followers seem to comment on or ask me about is Connie Love. If you haven’t seen Connie perform to Funk, Soul, Disco and just about any genre then you’re in for a treat! Whenever I see her dance, it’s like watching a scene from classic Blaxploitation flick like Black Caesar, Uptown Saturday or The Mack. We recently caught up with the dancing queen to find out about her style, inspiration and why she loves to dance. Ladies and gentlemen, Connie Love!
NK: When did you develop a love for dancing and know that it was something that you wanted to do as a profession?
CL: My love for dancing developed from my love of music, which came from my mom. Growing up I had the opportunity to not just listen to top forty on the radio. My mom, who was born and raised in Liberia, has a strong love for an array of genres and always had her favorite artists, from old school Ghanaian Highlife to Gladys Knight to Kenny Rogers, playing in the house. And, because there was always music playing in the house, I was always dancing around the house. That’s where I developed my love.
My mom eventually put me in classes (ballet, tap, jazz) when I was eight which I continued till I was eleven, at which point they started to get too pricey and I had to stop. Not being able to take classes fueled my desire to dance. I obsessively rewatched and practiced my recital videos so I wouldn’t forget old routines. I took the TV Guide from every Sunday paper hostage so I could plan ahead to watch any and every program remotely related to dance during the week. Throughout grade school to college, I took advantage of every school dance, play, club, etc. I could involve myself in to keep dancing. All the while this is happening, I never believed I could take it seriously.
It wasn’t until after graduating college that I realized how depressing it was to not be able to dance as much in order to pursue a more “practical” or “secure” career. I eventually accepted the fact that dance was the single thing that always made me feel the most confident in myself. So, from that point on, it’s been my number one goal to work towards making dance a full time endeavor.
NK: From watching you many nights while performing at The Trestle Inn, it’s obvious that you have incredible talent and interact with the music as if you created it yourself. From Funk & Soul to Disco, you know exactly how to move, is this something that comes natural or did you take dance classes?
CL: I’ve never taken classes to learn how to dance to Funk/Soul/Disco and it doesn’t necessarily come naturally. I think my comfort with interacting with the music stems from listening to so much Funk/Soul/Disco because of my mom. Before I got my own radio in middle school, I was listening to a lot of 105.3 WDAS, 98.1 WOGS, and some older New Jersey stations that played a lot of Motown. One of the first CDs I got from my mom was a Temptations Greatest Hits compilation shortly after we watched their tv bio-miniseries on VH1 together. “Cloud Nine” was on repeat for like three months!
Fast forward about 20 years. Once I decided that I was going to audition for the Trestle Inn, I studied a crap load of Soul Train episodes and scoured for any old school Go Go videos I could find on YouTube (there aren’t many). I used YouTube and Instagram to also find clips of other Trestle Specials dancing, and I did research to find mixes from current The Sound of Trestle DJs on SoundCloud and practiced freestyling to those.
This might sound weird, but what also helps while I’m on the box is trying to envision myself in the recording studio with the singers, musicians, producers, sound engineers etc of the records I’m listening to. They had to have been having a good time while doing it or we wouldn’t enjoy the music so much! I try to imagine how they’re vibing off of each other and what it would be like to be a fly on the wall. Especially when the energy of the crowd is down and they’re more focused on ordering their next drink or talking instead of dancing, I try to imagine what it’d be like to dance under the Man in the Moon with the Cocaine Spoon at Studio 54, or what it would have been like to dance next to Cheryl Song or Damita Jo on the set of Soul Train. I do whatever I need to do to dance within the music. I listen and react, and try my best not to anticipate, especially if I don’t know the song. Ultimately, I try to be the person who’s having the utmost fun in the room and hope that people vibe off of that.
NK: What are your top 3 favorite music genres to dance to?
CL: Afrobeat/other popular West African dance music, Disco, and number 3 is a wildcard, it depends on what I’m obsessed with at the time. It can range from Brazilian Funk to Erykah Badu. And, obviously, this is not exclusive to the Trestle, it’s what I feel like dancing to when I practice freestyling in general.
NK: You have a very vintage look all around, from your dancing to the outfits to the way that you wear your hair and it reminds me so much of watching Blaxploitation films of the 70s and seeing woman dance in the clubs and Go-Go spots in certain scenes. Where does your inspiration come from that you seem to be so connected to that era?
Photo (c) Brandon Wentworth
CL: I can’t take credit for the outfits since they are provided by The Trestle Inn. However, for hair, makeup, and jewelry inspiration, I’m in love with Pam Grier and Diana Ross. I refer to them and what women were wearing for Soul Train during the 70s and 80s. I also like Blaxploitation films too. I think The Disco Godfather has some of my favorite dance scenes and outfits ever.
NK: As a DJ who has traveled the globe, it’s hard to find venues or bars with authentic Go-Go dancers because I honestly think it’s a dance that isn’t understood unlike burlesque dancers where the show is built around a performance or even exotic dancers which both revolve around “theatrics” versus actually knowing the music as you do. Why do you think that is?
CL: This question had me thinking a lot. I’m not sure how you’re defining “authentic”…do you mean that in the sense of specific moves they’re using, they’re musicality, how they’re dressed, or if they’re an engaging performer?
I think finding authentic Go-Go dancers is so inconsistent because it’s such a freeform practice that there’s no criteria for what Go-Go dancing is or is not. I think a lot of dancers are hired based on physical appearance, if they have a solid sense of rhythm, and if they have any stage presence. Though I’m still very new to this, I feel like I can say with confidence that dancers aren’t always required to go home and familiarize themselves with the music that’s going to be played during their set. They aren’t always required to research music videos, tv shows, or movies to get a better understanding of the time periods or ideas they’re paying homage to. You’re not required to go home and practice freestyling. You can just show up, put on a cute costume and some makeup, plaster on a smile, and you’re good to go.
At the end of the day, I think what you’re seeing, a lack of “authentic” Go-Go, is just a lack of effort in part from the performers and also the presenters to expect more from their dancers. Go-Go dancers are fairly low on the totem pole of movement artists because we’re not consistently pushing ourselves to fine tune our craft and our individual styles. Because Go-Go dancing doesn’t have a set structure, dancers have the freedom to pull from anything that they want and make it their own. No one can tell you you’re doing it wrong, but it’s imperative that you’re confident in what you’re doing. I think that’s awesome. However, I don’t think many dancers take advantage of that for whatever reason, so it reflects in the quality of their dancing.
Photo (c) The Trestle Inn
NK: Outside of music and dance, what inspires you in every day life?
CL: Artists who have committed themselves to their gift. It’s not something that has come easy to me. I fight with a lot of inner voices telling me to be more practical, especially since I’m not the most technically trained dancer. But, I’m in love with dancing. And, every time I learn about someone who goes against the grain and makes their art a focal point, I gain a bit more confidence and drive.
NK: On a final note, if you could do anything with dance, where would you want to take it and what would be the dream performance that you would want to be remembered for?
CL: There’s a lot I want to do with dance. I want to perform, choreograph, and collaborate with as many artists across genres as possible. In terms of Go-Go dancing, I want to take it wherever I can go at this point. I want to see how much more I can push myself to develop my Connie Love persona at The Trestle Inn and hope to get more opportunities to perform at other venues or parties that focus on playing good Soul, Funk, and Disco. I don’t want to be remembered for a singular performance. I just want to make people feel something when they watch me, anything but boredom or indifference.