Which Solid Gold Dancer are you?
January 11, 2008 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Solid Gold was a television show that ran from 1980 to 1988, on Saturdays, in the early evening, hosted by (among others) Dionne Warwick, Rick Dees, and Marilyn McCoo. It showcased snippets of the Top Ten popular songs of the week, accompanied and sometimes interpreted by the Solid Gold Dancers. This post is about them.

I do not wish to waste words in trying to describe their sublime, slithery shiny-ness--other bloggers already have.

I am only posting this to encourage you, to egg you on, to help you release your inner Solid Gold Dancer. Watch some of the examples below. Study and imitate the movements you see. Then, as the songs take control, try choreographing your own Solid Gold Dance Moves! Nobody's looking -- go ahead! You, wth the glasses, yeah, you, try it! It's quite fun.


The music has magic,
You know you can catch it;
If you let the songs take control...

The sound starts to glisten,
The more that you listen,
And slowly it turns into gold...

SOLID GOLD!! Filling up my life with music.
SOLID GOLD!! Putting rhythm in my soul.

There's a song that's unreeling,
To fit the way that I'm feeling;
My head keeps spinning to music,

Spinning to gold...

Bonus: Solid Gold Christmas Special; 1979's #49 to #42 hits

NOTE: This FPP is not responsible for making baby jesus weep, for causing ears/eyes to bleed, or for sudden loss of bladder control. You may experience some dizziness and vertigo. This is normal.
posted by not_on_display (69 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
It makes me weep a little that anyone has to explain what it was.
posted by Miko at 9:47 PM on January 11, 2008 [6 favorites]

For a brief, shining moment in the early 80's, young Americans were actually able to turn their BFA's in modern dance into cold hard cash. And stock in Capezio dancewear was so hot, it smoked.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:11 PM on January 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

Wooo! I turned 36 yesterday and i remember this show! We knew it sucked we watched it anyway.
posted by vrakatar at 10:12 PM on January 11, 2008

I was living in Chicago having a beer with my friend Mike. We were watching the Solid Gold Dancers on a crappy old black and white tv. Mike cracked open another beer and said "Man, I bet that's what New York city is like". I didn't get what he was saying. I just said "What?" Mike got this serious look "New York man, I bet you living in New York city is like being a Solid Gold dancer".

A few years later he moved to New York, worked as a waiter for a couple of years and then he died in a taxi crash. I never did get to ask him if it was true.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:30 PM on January 11, 2008 [37 favorites]

I was an SGD (Solid Gold Dancer) in 1985. I can be seen at the forefront of the number we did for Katrina and the Waves' Walkin' on Sunshine. Post-performance... I'd never been so laid in all my life. Man, I was King, swimming in quim--everywhere I went, women swooned. Ah... the days! I still have the costume. I bring it out for parties and whatnot. It's a little tight but aren't all the best things in life?
posted by dobbs at 10:35 PM on January 11, 2008 [23 favorites]

I remember my dad watching the solid gold dancers a little too intensely. Eeeew.
posted by mecran01 at 10:49 PM on January 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've always loved a remark made by Dorothy on The Golden Girls when she reluctantly donned a green sequined top for a date. Her date kindly commented, "You look lovely." She replied, "I look like the mother of a Solid Gold dancer."
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:50 PM on January 11, 2008

It's a little tight but aren't all the best things in life?

posted by humannaire at 10:50 PM on January 11, 2008

Solid Gold had the most watched closing credits in the history of television.
posted by tgyg at 10:55 PM on January 11, 2008

Having survived the 80s myself, I do not wish to demean those flexible young people who were after all just trying to make a living. It seems, though, if a sexy woman was in fact solid gold, she would have trouble getting out bed, let alone dancing like that.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:03 PM on January 11, 2008

I totally watched the Solid Gold dancers!... And, as a survivor of the 80s, I can tell you, they were way cooler than people are willing to admit.
posted by amyms at 11:14 PM on January 11, 2008

I watched Solid Gold quite a bit when I was young. I'm glad someone finally explained to me what it was.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:33 PM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I watched this as a kid too, and am pretty surprised at how it looks from an adult perspective. To me, it was in the same category as Soul Train, Dick Clark's Top 10 countdown or whatever, and TV shows like Fame -- it was about dancing and cool costumes. But this explains why I thought dancing meant basically walking around, slowly windmilling your arms, until you ended by striking a pose.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:40 PM on January 11, 2008 [5 favorites]

dobbs, I hope and pray—and as a rule I neither hope nor pray—your tale is true. My inner Solid Gold Dancer is a squinting curmudgeon in ill-prescribed spectacles, and so I must doubt, but O hope also blooms.
posted by cgc373 at 11:43 PM on January 11, 2008

These Solid Gold videos reminded me of this Penny Arcade strip.

Wait... it's awesome again! :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:08 AM on January 12, 2008

"Moving up to number 2 is one of the most successful duos in pop history - One On One, the latest from Daryl Hall and John Oates"

posted by -harlequin- at 12:11 AM on January 12, 2008

Ok, I take that back. One On One was crap, but I've definitely heard their other stuff. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:14 AM on January 12, 2008

Ya can't get more "80's" than Solid Gold!

When James Brown performed on it (his comeback hit "Living In America") he met his future wife Adrienne there, who was a stylist for the show. It was a troubled marriage. She died during liposuction surgery in 1996.
posted by bonefish at 12:16 AM on January 12, 2008

Meh. They were no Hot Gossip, that's for sure.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:08 AM on January 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Most pop culture nostalgia threads leave me in the dark, but I can relate to this one. Which is is a sure sign that I REALLY AM getting old.

But what intrigues me is this: until I saw this thread, I'd unconsciously assumed that "solid gold dancer' was a universal phrase, translatable into any language. I hadn't realized, until now, how deeply Solid Gold had integrated itself into my existential apprehension of the world. "Solid Gold Dancer?" Yeah, you might as well have said "space-time."
posted by treepour at 1:35 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

this post is all that metafilter is supposed to be.

Thank you for restoring my faith, if only until the next iraq/presidential thread goes undeleted.
posted by Mick at 5:33 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

My husband threatened to divorce me that one time I found the theme song to the show on You Tube and started dancing around the room, SGD-like.
posted by Lucinda at 5:36 AM on January 12, 2008

If we had TV like this today, I might watch TV.
Instead, I will make do with free porn from the Internet.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:04 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just want to know who was the mastermind who choreographed those super-sexay-sex-sex moves. Was it musical director Michael Miller? Or assistant choreographer Betty Brawley?
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:08 AM on January 12, 2008

Ah, dammit, I watched another clip and got my answer: Anita Mann. (Sounds like a Bart Simpson prank-call name.)
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:09 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would imagine this, or something like it, will soon return to prime time television - predominantly because it doesn't require writers... or common sense.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:36 AM on January 12, 2008

Debbie Harry's dancing in the instrumental section of her The Tide is High performance is priceless (at 2 minutes in).
posted by ericost at 6:39 AM on January 12, 2008 [16 favorites]

In the deep, haunted recesses of my childhood memories, the Solid Gold Dancers wait... and watch... and dance...
posted by blue_beetle at 6:53 AM on January 12, 2008

I want to make fun of this, but my pantyhose fetish simply will not allow it.
posted by flarbuse at 6:58 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

The thing that was most bizarre about the whole thing was that they would dance to any song that was on the countdown that week. Music Box Dancer by Frank Mills? John Lennon's Woman? Eek. I want to know what they did to the dance mix "19" featuring samples of interviews with Vietnam War vets with PTSD by Paul Hardcastle.
posted by umbú at 7:03 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

This was my career aspiration c. 1983.
posted by desjardins at 7:32 AM on January 12, 2008

Anita Mann. (Sounds like a Bart Simpson prank-call name.)

Or a drag queen. As a matter of fact there was a performer named Anita Mann here in Portland (year's ago). Warmed the crowd up for the headliner, Fonda Cox.

good times.
posted by Jikido at 8:21 AM on January 12, 2008

Anita ____ is a really common drag name.. And, Jikido, one of the most popular queens up here is Sofonda Cox.. One of my favourite names ever, though, was Helena Handbasket.

Back to the post.. I was always vaguely confused by Solid Gold when I was a kid, but I liked it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:32 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Damn, Debbie Harry's so young in that clip. Incredible post. My sister and I would watch it, and roll our eyes, and keep watching. Then we'd watch Fantasy Island.
posted by everichon at 8:47 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anita Vodka!
posted by ericb at 8:56 AM on January 12, 2008

OMG, Adam Ant scared me when I was a teenager, but I'm totally transfixed now. (He's the first SOLID GOLD) He's better than the dancers.
posted by dness2 at 9:44 AM on January 12, 2008

One of the things that impressed me, I remember, was how well Marilyn McCoo could sing a duet with just about everyone.

But all of us girls really wanted to be Solid Gold Dancers back then. We would practice in our bedrooms, sure that some day we would be discovered and then we would all become famous because we could dance to disco music.
posted by misha at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, ericost, that Debby Harry link is the best. I'm spooked, because I have a friend who looks now very much like Debby did then. I hadn't noticed.

Enjoying all the links. I watched it and then made fun of it while I still watched it.
posted by rainbaby at 11:14 AM on January 12, 2008

I'd forgotten that there used to be sex on network TV. Not innuendo, not jokey-haha referentiality, but pretty much chicks shaking their tits and asses right at the camera.

Not that I really miss it, but it's kind of striking.
posted by bardic at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2008

When I was 4, I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer when I grew up. My family still teases me about it. This post is made of WIN.
posted by Melinika at 11:33 AM on January 12, 2008

Yeah, but did any of you (besides Lucinda) get up and try ang SGD moves? Was anyone around?
posted by not_on_display at 12:15 PM on January 12, 2008

ang any
posted by not_on_display at 12:15 PM on January 12, 2008

Wow, I was in a crabby mood today, but this FPP turned it around! And the comments are Solid Comedy Gold!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

What always killed me is when the rock band would appear on the show to "mime" or lip-sync along with their hit single, and if their single fades out at the end, they would keep miming along as the song gets quieter and quieter! It's hard to retain your musical dignity when your band performing "live" plays along with the fadeout!
posted by Lord Kinbote at 12:44 PM on January 12, 2008

Alas, all these women died of skin suffocation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:06 PM on January 12, 2008

Tee-hee, never having experienced the solid gold phenomenon, I was waiting for someone to reference James Bond. Thanks Astro Zombie!
posted by Wilder at 2:25 PM on January 12, 2008

The director of Solid Gold once hit on me in a bar. True story. I was out with some cousins & these two ladies came over & chatted us up. One of them told me she was the director of Solid Gold & how she used to be a dancer & then she told me to feel her thigh to prove it. I don't think I was even old enough to drink at the time & I was pretty confused about the whole thing, this strange lady was asking me to feel her thigh. My cousins were amused, they still rib me about it from time to time.
posted by scalefree at 3:01 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Believe it or not, that's the first time my mind interpreted "Solid Gold Dancer" as "a dancer made of solid gold."

It's like one of them optical iloosion thingies!
posted by not_on_display at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2008

I am disturbed by the fact that I still LOVE their hair as much as I did when I was a little kid. The girl? With that pony-tail to the left side? It's all long and shiny? The way she whips that around so dramatically when she dances? Oooooooh! I totally wanted to be a Solid Gold Dancer. Still do. Their life is the stuff of dreams. This is the best post I have seen in a long time, and honestly? It's made what has been a tremendously sucky week into a wonderful one. Many thanks.
posted by msali at 6:32 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can remember wanting each and every one of these haircuts and getting none of them.
posted by jessamyn at 7:49 PM on January 12, 2008

Reliving this show via Youtube has suddenly solved the grand mystery of why all of my ice skating routines and my friends' modern dance pageants during high school seemed to have been choreographed to prepare all of the participants for bright futures in pole dancing. French cut leotards. Blindingly shiny almost flesh colored tights. Fringe. Rhinestones. Butt twitching.

It was nothing more nefarious than an unavoidable touch of Solid Gold.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:01 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Solid Gold, Dallas, Love Boat, Fantasy Island ... that was my Friday and Saturday night as a teenager. Even now I'm stunned that I didn't know how to just get up and go out and live. My life started when I turned 18 and left home.

[goes back to reading Metafilter, ignoring an SNL rerun, and thinking about finishing the Kubrick HD-DVD paused on the player]
posted by intermod at 9:15 PM on January 12, 2008

For me and my best friend, that was our Saturday Night: playing board games, with Solid Gold, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat on the tube in the background.

Thanks, all, for the appreciative comments -- glad you enjoyed the fare!
posted by not_on_display at 10:06 PM on January 12, 2008

I remember catching Love Boat and Fantasy Island occasionally as a kid. I don't remember seeing Solid Gold very often. Must have been something better on, or maybe that's when I was doing my homework.

I mean it's interpretive dance! Come on! An hour of that would make algebra homework look almost appealing in comparison.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:56 PM on January 12, 2008

I've gotta give a shout-out to Dance Fever, from the same era. The host, Danny Terrio, would usher contestants off-stage at the end of a dance routine when he boogied onto the lighted, Saturday Night Fever-style dance floor with a cheesy smile on his face. My mom and sister and I would watch the show just to laugh at Danny Terrio.
posted by jayder at 11:16 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is anyone else born in the '80s remembering how omnipresent these songs were? I'm struggling to watch these videos because each one is chock-full of songs that I know, but hate with a passion because I could never escape them. Each one is like a shoving a piece of granite into my eardrum. I know its irrational and I'm not going to hate on others for liking them.. but goddamn do these suck.
posted by jmhodges at 11:17 PM on January 12, 2008

jmhodges, I can sort of relate. I'm a child of the 80s in the sense that those were my teen years.

Islands in the Stream was the worst offender of that decade. When it was big it was huge and it was everywhere on radio and Tv. Every top 40, adult contemporary, country/western, hot hits station played it in tight rotation. Every television show featuring music had the video or Dolly & Kenny playing live at some point. When it popped up in the Solid Gold video, my eye twitched involuntarily.

As it was then and as it is now, mainstream entertainment is a centrally controlled beast. In the 80s, finding an alternative scene was not an easy task, especially if you lived in places outside Los Angeles or New York; you had to know the right people and (in many cases) project the right image to obtain access to stuff that went beyond the mainstream -- if you had even considered its existence. Therefore, those Top 40 horrors really did feel like they were inescapable.

I'm grateful for t'Internet existing and providing me with easy access to a wide range of music, video and literature that will never see the light of day on MTV or HBO. I can sidestep the entire industrial entertainment complex, something I never dreamed possible back in 1988. I can't really lay claim to that much indie cred, but in a small and very smug way I'm proud that I can't recognize Paris Hilton without a photo caption telling me it's Paris Hilton.

Not that I don't like my mass media now and then and that I'm incredibly excited that Big Brother starts in February this year.

What? Oh, sorry. Tangent.
posted by dantsea at 12:52 AM on January 13, 2008

FYI Debbie Harry was 36 in the Tide Is High clip.

She is so, so fine. So fine. But no dancer, Debbie.
posted by asok at 5:42 AM on January 13, 2008

Anita Mann in action.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:09 PM on January 13, 2008

Awesome find, Oriole. Anita is charming and girlish here -- odd to think she'd grow up to create the genre of pole-dancing-without-poles.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:47 PM on January 13, 2008

I've gotta give a shout-out to Dance Fever, from the same era. The host, Danny Terrio,

Denny. Denny Terrio. I forgive you.
posted by tristeza at 4:38 PM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I loved Dance Fever! The Seafood Shanty my family frequented in my youth had a large flat multicolored plastic light fixture that always made me think of the Dance Fever floor, but without the blinking. I wish I could see some of that right now, but YouTube is letting me down bigtime.

Great post, btw. :)
posted by chihiro at 6:15 PM on January 13, 2008

I remember loving the madame as a kid.
posted by terrortubby at 2:07 AM on January 14, 2008

Back in the late 1990's I was a Metal Gear Solid Gold dancer. To that end, I smoked and wore a bandanna and sneaked around Alaskan nuclear weapons sites whilst avoiding members of Foxhound, a rival modern dance group. My friend Grey Fox and I were the two number one dancers and our rivalry was legendary until my cloned-twin ended in all for us by attempting to perform 'the robot' using a giant 20ft tall robot with a huge railgun attached to it.

Luckily, through excellent footwork and the use of giant exclamation marks we were able to save the day and put paid to his mecha-shenanigans.

These days I relax by dancing at home to the theme tune of my adventures and I can still just about fit into my cardboard box with eye holes cut into it.
posted by longbaugh at 5:43 AM on January 14, 2008 [6 favorites]

Oh my gosh, I just watched the Adam Ant "Goody Two Shoes" clip. One time in gym class, ca. 1983, they broke us up into groups and told us to choreograph a dance. Stacey Ksomethingsomething, who walked around with her toes pointed out all the time and wore her dance clothes under her school uniform to advertise the fact that she was a Dancer, took over, chose this song and choreographed our dance, but it was exactly the same as this Solid Gold routine, only shorter!! I wonder if she stole it from this show!
posted by Enroute at 7:06 PM on January 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh...I so wanted to be a SGD when I was a kid. In dance class, before the instructor came in, everyone practiced their "bad girl" dance moves. Watching the videos now makes me realize how much they all look like stripper routines just before the dancer goes down to skin. Can you imagine trying to get something like this past Standards today? Good gods, half the country would go into nipple shock.

What fun, thanks for a great post.
posted by dejah420 at 9:11 PM on January 19, 2008

AHH! That Madame puppet used to freak me out as a kid. TAKE IT AWAY!!!!!
posted by chillmost at 4:50 AM on January 22, 2008

I remember Wayland Flowers & Madame mainly from Hollywood Squares about half a decade earlier. WF didn't even try to keep his lips from moving, but M was such a loveable, outrageous character (to a pretty conservatively raised teenager) that I didn't mind the poor ventriloquist technique a bit.
posted by pax digita at 6:57 AM on January 28, 2008

This is the best post in the world.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 4:40 PM on January 31, 2008

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