I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Solid Gold Christmas: Winter Dancerland

by Nicholas Shapiro
Dec. 25, 2013

Say American Bandstand is to Dasher, as Shindig! is to Blitzen, in which Soul Train is to Prancer, and Saturday Night Live is to Rudolph. American music television shows have had their share of unique personalities and individual flairs, but let it be known that Solid Gold is most definitely the Dancer of the group. A television program that was nearly a parody of itself, Solid Gold chose not to re-invent the wheel of the music show format, but opted to give it a pair of long, lustful legs to strut upon.

At the end of each year, beginning in 1980, Solid Gold had specialized in their year-end countdown specials that would gleam the national airwaves for two hours recapping the year in pop’s biggest hits. Throughout the year, they would air weekly episodes doing much of the same in weekly increments. What Solid Gold did best, however, came in the form of a group of dancers known to the pop culture landscape as the Solid Gold Dancers. On regular segments of Solid Gold, live performers lip-synced their hits, sometimes surrounded by the Solid Gold Dancers. If the performers weren’t available, the eight dancers did their thing alone.

Schlocky at its worst but deviously entertaining at the show’s best, Solid Gold teased its viewers with performances from the Solid Gold Dancers that’d have viewers either scratching their heads or adjusting their slacks. The song selection, as many pop hits of yesteryear, consisted of mainly inoffensive material. The Solid Gold Dancers had a knack for changing this real quick. Put best by a 1986 review from the New York Times, Jon Pareles wrote, “Costumed like a Las Vegas version of punk fashion, kicking and writhing, the Solid Gold Dancers enact mini-dramas (choreographed by Anita Mann) of covetousness, lust and aerobic toning - routines that typically have a minimal connection with the songs that back them up.” For the Solid Gold Christmas special, viewers got just that in what can only be described as “provocative yuletide”.

For a prime-time TV show meant for the national airwaves, its still quite amusing to see a sexual re-working of the same carols that many, innocent families delivered door-to-door on America’s front steps at the time of the holiday season. The choreography seen in the Dancers’ take on “Hark! The Angel Heralds Sing” is suggestively interpretive, while their rhythmically challenged rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Merry Christmas Baby” would sit comfortably on the stereo at any gentleman’s club.

The big joke here, if there is one (and there is), is the fact that while these dance numbers became known as stimulating fodder for the masses, they were not legitimately unrecognized . Head Choreographer Anita Mann was nominated for two Emmys for the show’s “Outstanding Choreography” with many of the other dancers earning much success in the entertainment industry elsewhere. The lesson here being: strut it if you got it, even on Christmas. Tune into the Solid Gold Christmas special for a delightful holiday spectacular fit with comedy bits, pleasant collaborations, and the Solid Gold Dancers giving the world’s yuletide compositions a bizarrely-awesome makeover.

My name is Nicholas Craig Shapiro, I'm 22 from New York, New York and I just graduated from SUNY Purchase. I'm currently a janitor/pool attendant/freelance writer/single woman trying really hard to keep busy for on the off chance that I'm not, I will get bored and explode into glitter. I maintain a twitter and that's about it https://twitter.com/glennfeathers