These artists are preserving the history of a dance style gay men created in ’70s-era L.A.
The gay culture of L.A. created dance in the 1970s with gay male groups like Dancin’ All Over and The Dancin’ Kings, which put on high-energy dances with large crowds. The dance style, sometimes called the “Dancin’” to refer to a dance routine, has come to be a genre of Los Angeles gay dance.
In the early years of gay history, there was a “backlash” against gay dancing, leading to the decline of the Dancin’, according to the website of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
“There was a backlash because of the very large turnout that the dance was receiving, so there was a lot of negative press that was written about the Dancin’,” said Gay L.A. historian Larry Kramer.
But since the 1980s, the gay dance world has flourished, with events like Gay Pride Day attracting a million attendees. Dances like the Gay Liberation March bring thousands more people in for a night of dancing, along with a lineup of live music, a variety of food, and even a “disco ball.”
“People still dance in the streets for the city and all the people that are here,” said Kramer, who recently opened the website Dancin’ LA. “It’s always been a gay dance style, but it’s also been growing.”
Gay dance’s history in Los Angeles is as complicated and diverse as it is varied.
“It’s really diverse, it’s a dance style that’s really interesting, the kind of dance that’s really exciting and great to dance,” Kramer said.
The ‘Dancin’” is a style that’s uniquely Los Angeles. Each city has a different “take,” and the history of dancing in L.A. has taken on its own special vibe, according to historians across the city.
The Dancin’ Kings, founded in 1978 by a dancer named John Nunn, was a staple of the city’s gay culture for decades. It was a place to go to, a place where all the best “dancin’” performers would come to train.
“As gay men,” said the Dancin’ Kings founder, “we grew up dancing in