Circus Disco, a bastion of Latino gay nightlife in Hollywood for 40 years, is facing demolition to make way for a ginormous multi-use development complex called the Lexington Project. The 6-acre site will include 695 residential units and double the parking spaces. But activists and environmentalists are crying foul, and the proposal is currently under review.
So when I heard that Lipps Inc. would be performing (Won’t you take me to … Funkytown?) I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to pay homage to what might possibly be the last days of Circus Disco.
The first thing you’re taken with upon entering the complex is the enormity of the club. It’s the size of an airplane hangar with multiple dance floors. This Saturday night the main floor was easily filled. To my surprise, the gays didn’t turn out for this event, but a well-dressed predominantly straight Latino crowd: age range roughly early 30s to 60s. Glamorous women with totally done hair and makeup were poured into microscopic dresses. They swayed to the beats on towering heels while men in suits and ties danced alongside them. That’s right, suits! All these clothing restrictions didn’t stop the crowd from boogieing down to song after song.
My disco aficionado friend, Rob, and I planted ourselves next to a raised platform, about 4-feet high. As we danced to our favorite hits—Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”—and marveled at the exuberant crowd, a diminutive, 40-something Latino man stepped up to the platform. He donned a set of gloves with colored bulbs on the fingertips and proceeded to dance his heart out. He took up every bit of space on the platform, waving his lit hand props for maximum, swirly effect.
After 30 minutes of his flash dancing, management must’ve determined a change of scenery was in order. Two burly guys barked at the lone dancer to get off the platform. Reluctantly, he descended the steps. The guys then led two lovely women in super tight dresses and ridiculously high stilettos up to the platform. At first lone dancer seemed dejected, but he soon found a clear space on the dance floor and waved his hands in the air—like he really didn’t care.
When the time came, Lipps Inc. vocalist Cynthia Johnson took the stage. She was minus a band and sang to a track. Two attractive women in red tube dresses shimmied next to her. Her voice was clear and strong. As she sang “Funkytown” …
Well, I talk about it, talk about it
Talk about it, talk about it
Talk about, talk about
Talk about movin’
Gotta move on
… she transported us there.
After her set, the place started to clear out. The beats continued, and we stayed. It’s not often you get to go to Funkytown; we weren’t ready to move on.
Photos courtesy of Rob Mello.