In short, go-go dancers are the cheerleaders of the dance floor. Employed by nightclubs and live music venues to create energy and atmosphere, they impress with their seemingly endless go-go-go energy and ability to adapt their largely improvised choreography to suit every key change, beat drop and scratched record thrown their direction. From 70s table dancers to vogue-ing club kids, hot gay boys in hot pants and Ibiza super clubbers, go-go dance styles have evolved over the years in line with fashion and popular music, but to understand the moves I love the most we need to go back to the beginning.
It all started in 1960 with The Twist – a catchy tune popularised by Chubby Checker and inspired by a ‘raunchy’, hip-twisting rock and roll dance move that horrified parents, delighted teenagers and revolutionised social dancing as we know it. Free from the formality of partner dancing, The Twist dance craze inspired such quirky 60s moves as the Watusi, Jerk, Pony, Monkey, Swim and Hully Gully and riding on its success club owners began to employ hip-twisting dancers to entertain patrons – and go-go dancing was born. From Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to Sydney’s own Golden Mile, Kings Cross, in cages, on podiums, and in more family friendly incarnations on prime time TV, wiggly-hipped go-go girls shook up the conservative status quo.
A keen dancer from a young age, I played out my go-go aspirations in front of mirrors and on nightclub podiums, but it wasn’t til adulthood that my love of 60s music drew me to perform. Under the guidance of renowned Sydney performer Tasia, combined with a steady diet of vintage YouTube clips, I learnt those classic 60s moves and embarked on a fun journey that has taken me everywhere from dive bars to TV sets and most recently on a dancing tour of Japan with Perth go-go troupe The Beehives.
Inevitably this passion has fed into my visual arts practise, which has drawn upon the history of performers in inner-city Sydney and iconic representations of women in art, religion and pop culture. In my performative videos and installations podiums become pedestals for my fabulously fringed false idols but, when I’m teaching I like to keep things light hearted – and few things make me smile more than a room full of grinning individuals enjoying the music, losing their inhibitions and doing The Twist!
Find Bridie on Facebook for dance classes and performances.
Bridie manages inventory and online operations for MCA Store. A self-confessed book nerd, her personal library is full of fashion photography, feminist theory and trashy celebrity biographies. A practising visual and performing artist she is interested in representations of women in art and popular culture and is a passionate supporter of emerging local artists and designers.