The Duke of Disco

W.W. Chapman, known to his few friends as "Dub," was marooned in the Seventies, and there was absolutely no point in telling him that Disco was as extinct as the Dodo.

Dub had wiped out three copies of "Saturday Night Fever," and worn holes in the carpet, practicing his John Travolta strut. Now, he kept a supply of the video on could never tell when it might be yanked off the shelves.

When the Palais de Danse on Fantasie Pier had shut its doors for the last time, Dub knew the world had gone to hell in a hand basket. He hadn't been there in over a decade, but still took the closure personally. It was inevitable, he supposed. The Midway had been losing popularity for years.

Trouble was, Dub reasoned, nobody appreciated the grandeur of a truly elegant dance hall any more. Multi-colored lighting and plush accents were considered gaudy and outdated. Dub wouldn't have been caught dead in the dives where today's kids listened to music...and he used that term lightly. They were rat holes with no room to swing a cat, let alone a Disco Diva.

Dub had been toying with the possibility of applying for a loan, buying the Palais, and restoring it to former glory, but the City Council beat him to the punch. They planned to level the Midway, build a shopping mall, complete with a theater and restaurants...and turn the Palais de Danse into an Amusement Arcade come Cyber-Cafe. Dub could not have been more horrified if someone had told him the BeeGees were a mere figment of his imagination.

With demolition slated to begin in six months, Dub knew that if he wanted to recapture the "Golden Age" once more before it disappeared for good, there was not a minute to waste. He worked diligently all week and, when Saturday night rolled around, Dub was ready.

He picked up his white, three-piece suit from the dry cleaners, ignoring the mocking sneer of the clerk, collected his boots from the repair shop and went home. He tore the plastic bag from the royal blue shirt he once doubted would ever again see the light of day, and fussed with the handkerchief in the breast pocket of his jacket until it was just right. Then, making sure he had a good reserve of batteries, he grabbed the boom box, a sack of candles and hailed a cab to Fantasie Pier.

His partners were ready and waiting, perched on stools or reclining in the luxurious red velvet loveseats. Dub lit the candles and placed them strategically so they illuminated the faceted mirrored ball above the dance platform. It was almost like the real thing.

He slipped a tape into the cassette deck and sauntered around the room. "No wallflowers tonight," he announced. "Everyone gets to dance with the Duke of Disco."

He stopped in front of a willowy blonde dressed in pale peach chiffon and matching, high-heeled, strappy sandals. "May I?"

They took to the floor. Dub spun the blonde and grinned...he hadn't forgotten his fancy footwork. Barry Gibb moved the tempo up a notch and Dub seized his partner's hand. He twirled until her arm fell off and her head pirouetted over the bar, but that was okay. There was a plentiful stock of mannequins to be found along the Midway, left behind when the sideshows and exhibits had closed.

Before he could select another partner, the music died away.  Dub's heart pounded as the adrenalin pumped. "Yes," he murmured excitedly as the Gibb Brothers broke into the ultimate Disco song. This was one best performed alone.

Dub watched the movements of his flickering shadow against all four walls. No doubt that the boy still had it. His hips gyrated as he sashayed across the floor. With one hand behind his head, he whirled in an immaculate circle and pointed to each of his ladies in turn. He couldn't sing to save his life, but that wasn't about to stop him.

"You should be dancing, yeah...!"

Maurice Ernest Gibb

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