First of all, let me give dance credit where dance credit is due. The woman to the left is the BEST DANCER I've ever met in my life. She's a friend of mine and a regular at Wild Bill's juke joint here in Memphis, my very favorite place in the world for dancing. (A close second is Hollywood Disco and/or Paula and Raiford's Disco, both of which claim to be the "new" home of what was formerly the Memphis dance-mecca Raiford's.) Everyone knows her as "Woman's World," which is the phrase she has a habit of shouting as she's shaking it up and down the aisles of Wild Bill's. I've never met anyone who dances with such uninhibited joy and complete abandon as Woman's World, and it's totally contagious.
That said, I'm not going to lie, I can dance too. There aren't many songs that I couldn't choose as a "song I can dance to." There are songs that nobody can dance to and songs I wouldn't dance to, but if it's got a beat and there's room to dance, almost everything else is fair game. So, I decided to pick the song that I most often dance to-- and by "most often," in this case I mean "almost every Saturday night."
Regular readers of this blog will already know that "Saturday night" and "Wild Bill's" are pretty much synonymous in my life... and the dancing that takes place at Wild Bill's is no small part of that. I can't tell you how many people who I would never have imagined stepping foot on a dance floor and yet who have been moved by the Spirit of Bill's to get up and shake their groove thangs. It's just one of those places. Of course, it helps that almost every song that is played there is eminently dance-able, and also that dance partners are not hard to find. (In fact, they're hard to avoid!) The dance floor is small and cramped and almost always overcrowded, but I suspect all that just contributes to the willingness of people to get up on it, since it's one of those places where you never feel like your being watched or judged. As much as I hate those little feel-good mantras that get passed around on Facebook and the like, the one that encourages people to "dance like nobody is watching" is one that I wish more people heeded more often.
Anyway, here's the song that ALWAYS gets me up and moving on Saturday night at Bill's. It's a live version of Theodis Easley performing "Stand Up In It" from his 2004 album Stand Up In It. Fair warning, this song is NSFW.
There's no way around it; this is just a nasty, dirty song. I mean, it's not even like most other blues/R&B songs, which cover their salacious content over with a thick layer of innuendo. No innuendo here. When Theodis sings "stand up in it," that's exactly what he means. But the song is also flat-out hilarious. It's a story about the sometimes very wide abyss between a man's bragging and the actual ability of that man to do what he's bragging about. It's also a story about the fact that men think they know what women want, but really don't, even after being given explicit instructions. And that story, dear readers, is the ladies' half of blues music.
Now, all due respect to Theodis, this song really should be sung by a woman. His is the only recorded version I know of, but it's not my favorite version. The truth is, the person who is able to draw out every last ounce of dirty, nasty soul in this song is Miss Nickki, the regular singer at Wild Bill's. And she does it every Saturday night to a FULL dance floor. I was able to track down this video of her performing the song live, which doesn't capture half of the awesomeness of actually being there, but it gives you a taste:
I'm pretty confident that if Miss Nickki wanted to sing the phone book, and she was backed by the Memphis Soul Survivors, I'd probably get up and dance to it. In the meantime, though, I'll take "Stand Up In It" anyday.