Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 14/5/2010 (3742 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WITH apologies to American Pie, Peter Jordan calls it "the day the socials died."
In the late 1970s, Jordan (as his alter ego Rocki Rolletti) was headlining a function at the University of Winnipeg's Riddell Hall. When it came time for Rolletti and his band, Wudzittoyuh, to take the stage, Rolletti was carried into the room like a Roman emperor. Only instead of a throne, the king of noodle rock was perched on an oversized platter that had been smothered in spaghetti. And he was dressed like a giant meatball.
"Of course, as the night went along, the spaghetti ended up being thrown around the room, until it was everywhere, and on everyone," Jordan says, shaking his head at the memory.
But that wasn't the worst/best part.
At around midnight, the band broke into the opening chords of the Kinks classic You Really Got Me.
"By then, there must have been 1,000 people on the dance floor, and everybody started jumping up and down to the music at the same time, as if on cue," Jordan says. "Pretty soon, the stage started to reverberate. Then the floor started to shake."
A week later, Jordan learned that Riddell Hall had been pogo-ed within an inch of its life, and that the venue would no longer be available for socials.
Which begs the question: When Rocki Rolletti and the Retro Rhythm Revue play the World's Largest Social this evening at the Convention Centre, will the Kinks be on the set list?
"Oh, you bet," Jordan says, with a gleam in his eye. "We're definitely going to try and close down the Convention Centre."
Tonight, over 35,000 party-goers are expected to attend socials in 63 communities throughout the province as part of Manitoba Homecoming 2010. In honour of that event -- a boon to producers of KUB bread and Old Dutch chips everywhere -- we contacted some prominent Winnipeggers, to find out what their favourite memories are, when it comes to a social setting. Here's what they had to say...
"In the 1970s, during the disco era, every man on the dance floor thought he was John Travolta and every song that played lent itself to the gyrations associated with the period. My brother-in-law was no different. I can remember being tossed around, then thrown through his legs. He was supposed to hang on (to me), but he didn't, and I skidded across the floor through the crowd."
-- Marnie Strath, co-ordinator, World's Largest Social
"Although they were originally hatched as a way to raise money for a cause -- usually to pay for a wedding -- my best recollection is performing at socials at the Native Club -- a giant hall that held about 1,000 people. In the late '70s and early '80s, Winnipeg bands made their name in the many bars around the city. The next level for aspiring bands was to play the Native Club socials. Tickets were $6. These events were usually promoted by your local drug dealer or soon-to-be mayor. We'd get to perform to a large crowd, use a huge PA system and would get paid $1,000 for the night. (Wait a minute ... where did the other $5,000 go?)"
-- Chris Burke-Gaffney, member of the Pumps and Orphan, senior vice-president of CBG Artist Development
"For me, a good social has rye bread and cold cuts, lots of cheap beer, big prizes that I never win, and the song What I Like About You by the Romantics, which causes middle-aged drunk guys to hop around madly on the dance floor, pretending they can dance. The odd brawl afterwards is always a nice touch."
-- Jason Beck, local comedian
"I have never attended a social where I didn't win a silent auction prize. Although I never really wanted that dusty toaster oven that someone re-gifted, and I have no need for a lifetime supply of birdseed, I still won them fair and square. My strategy is simple: Step 1. Scope out the prize table prior to buying tickets. Step 2. Buy tickets. Step 3. Monitor the ticket bags throughout the evening to learn which prize is the least impressive. Step 4. Wait until the last possible minute to drop ALL of your tickets in for that really bad prize. Step 5. Claim your dusty toaster ovens and birdseed."
-- Portage 'n Maim (a.k.a. Michelle Nyhof), director of marketing, Winnipeg Roller Derby League
"Much like when I go to bars, my favourite socials feature live bands instead of canned dance music. Many times the bands are thrown together especially for the social, while others are a collection of people from different bands, playing original music, or covers of 'social' music like Michael Jackson, Blur and yes, Bob Seger. But it's always embarrassing to be so into the band that you don't notice getting meat-shouldered -- having a friend take a cold cut and place it on your shoulder while you're otherwise engaged and laughing the rest of the night while you wander around with a piece of meat dangling just out of range of your peripheral vision. 'See Jane dance with a meat shoulder. See John run on stage and claim a prize with a meat shoulder. See Phyllis have a deep conversation with the father of the bride with meat shoulder.'"
-- Rob Williams, music reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
"I have been to more socials than any other human being on the face of this Earth. There was a time we would go to three or four, every weekend. This is how they all work: Older people get there at 8 p.m. and are gone by 10. (Nobody who is cool gets there before 10, unless you know somebody putting on the social and you have to sell stupid auction tickets.) There is a City of Winnipeg bylaw that requires the following songs be played at every social, every time: Mony Mony, Love Shack and Old Time Rock and Roll. If you do not play these songs, we will hunt you down, and we will arrest you."
-- Gord Steeves, city councillor, St. Vital
"Unless you're really not into beer or mixed drinks (rye and coke comes to mind), you might want to avoid wine. Socials tend to be best-bang-for-your-buck events, and catering to wine drinkers isn't usually top of the list. Typical offerings usually include a non-vintage white and red, usually from one of the big Canadian vintners (Sawmill Creek, etc.) that blend Canadian and foreign grapes. It goes without saying that said wine will be served in a plastic cup. As for pairings, what goes better with ripple chips and pretzels than beer?"
-- Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson, wine columnist, Winnipeg Free Press
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"A moment that stands out for me is a social I attended several years ago in rural Manitoba. The music choice for the night was country-western, until someone made a request and really turned the night into a party. Sir Mix-A-Lot's Jump On It came over the speakers, and about two dozen people broke out into the dance that the cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air performed on their last episode. Most surprisingly, everyone knew the dance and was completely in sync with each other. These people had some serious moves."
-- Chris, ChrisD.ca, online news source
"To this day, I wish I could remember the very kind gentleman who drove me home from a social many, many years ago in Brandon. After eating way too much social food at midnight, and drinking way too much all night, I had an 'incident,' in the middle of the dance floor just before the social ended. I was slow-dancing with a 'crush' when suddenly, I had to push him away and, well, let's just say I didn't make it to the washroom in time. A nice man got me into his car, got me some paper towels and Big Red gum, and drove me home. To this day, I still don't know who he was, but I thank him."
-- Kathy Kennedy, 92 CITI-FM
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.
HOT 103's Steve Adams gained his degree in social studies during the three years he spent working as a DJ for Roadshow Sound. Here's Adams' list of 20 essential tunes -- each one guaranteed to pack a social dance floor near you this weekend.
1. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
2. You Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC
3. Love Shack, the B-52s
4. Celebration, Kool and the Gang
5. Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
6. Gettin' Jiggy with It, Will Smith
7. Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now), C+C Music Factory
8. Dancing Queen, Abba
9. YMCA, Village People
10. Old Time Rock and Roll, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
11. Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper
12. Red Red Wine, UB40
13. Push It, Salt-n-Pepa
14. Bust a Move, Young MC
15. Stayin' Alive, N-Trance
16. Cotton Eye Joe, Rednex
17. Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice
18. Kiss, Prince & the Revolution
19. Holiday, Madonna
20. Footloose, Kenny Loggins
(Adams mentions that he would "die a happy, happy man" if he never had to endure Brooks & Dunn's Boot Scootin' Boogie, Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl, or the Grease Megamix ever, ever again.)