Chancellor of Soul's Chronicles-Journals Dedicated To The
Historical Preservation Of R&B, Pop and It's Artists and Music


 The Twist!
The Dance That Took The World By Storm!

(The Twist Goes To Hollywood)

The Peppermint Lounge became the spot in New York for fun and
recreation. Sam Cooke was inspired to write a song about the famous
club entitled, 'Twistin' The Night Away'. He was at home one morning
watching the 'Today' show on television. The show featured a segment
on the Peppermint Lounge, showing the socialites doing the Twist and
having a good time. Because of that clip, Sam quickly turn off the set
and began to compose the song. The club also featured dancers calling
themselves, The Peppermint Twisters. Great dancers but couldn't
really hold a candle to another group of twisters in Harlem called,
The Parkettes, started by the late Mama Lou Parks. A professional
dancer in the 40's, Mama Lou started her dance troupe in the late
50's. The Parkettes became fixtures at the world famous Apollo
Theater in between shows during the early 60's, in New York City.

One evening, The Peppermint Twisters challenged The Parkettes to
dance showdown at the Peppermint Lounge. The Parkettes accepted
the challenge and went down to the club to begin the contest. The
Peppermint Twisters never showed up! The Parkettes would later  rename themselves as, ' The Lou Parks Dancers', in the late 60's and performed in such shows as, The Harlem Cultural Festival in Mt Morris Park (renamed Marcus Garvey Park in 1972), with host Tony Lawrence. The show would run here in New York on Channel 5, Metromedia Television, on Saturday evenings, at 10:30 pm. There's a wonderful episode with the Lou Park Dancers doing the 'Shingaling', the Boogaloo, and the James Brown, backed by the Count Basie band. The show was taped on Sunday, June 30 1968 and featured other guests such as, Herbie Mann, Cliff Nobles, Nipsey Russell, Robert Hooks and his son Kevin, and of course Count Basie and his orchestra. The hosts were Tony Lawrence and the late actress, Ms. Diana Sands.

A movie producer from Paramount Pictures, visited the Peppermint Lounge
and approached Joey Dee about filming a picture based on the club and
the Twist. He would title it, 'Hey Let's Twist'. Joey agreed and filming began
immediately. Release in 1962, the movie became a huge moneymaker in various drive-ins, across the country. Other movies capitalized on the Twist, such as 'Twist Around The Clock', released in 1961, was the one of the first Twist movies to be filmed. Working on a cheap budget, the studio executives decided to use the same storylines featured in the 1956 movie, ' Rock Around The Clock', starring Bill Haley & The Comets and DJ Allen Freed. The story was rewritten to adapt to the Twist. 'Twist Around The Clock' featured musical greats as, Chubby Checker, Dion, The Marcels, 16-year-old Vicky Spencer, and Clay Cole.  The movie was such a box office success, the studio decided to release second picture based on the Twist entitled, ' Don't Knock The Twist', in 1962. Starring again, Chubby Checker (with more dialogue in the film), Gene Chandler, who did a wonderful performance of his million selling hit, ' Duke Of Earl'. He was  decked out in a top hat, a cape, and a cane, with a monocle eyeglass and white gloves.  Gene demonstrated with a touch of class how the Duke Of Earl should be represented.  The movie also included The Dovells, The Carroll Bros, Vic Dana and Dee Dee Sharp featured in a cameo appearance singing a duet with Chubby Checker entitled, 'Slow Twistin'. The dance was created for the older generation who discovered The Twist a year and half later. Dee Dee Sharp is not credited on the song with Chubby, which to me made no sense.

Again using the same story plot from the 1957 movie, 'Don't Knock The Rock'
'Don't Knock The Twist', became a smash in the movie theaters, raking up more profits than the studio dished out. If you ever get a chance to see these musical movies, it's worth it. Disregard the corny plots; it's just wonderful to see these legendary artists in their prime.

The Twist would only become popular in movies but also in advertisement
as well…

(End of Part 3)

Materials should not be used or altered without expressed permission of the author,

Mike Boone

(Chancellor of Soul)

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