Studio 54: White Washed

Stop- have you all sent a card/ tacky knickknacks to your moms for this upcoming Mother’s day? If not go do that now because Mother’s Day vs. reading a dance blog….I think we both know which takes priority.

I recently went searching the streets of NYC for a mom-worthy gift and tried a place I walked past every day on the way to American Ballet Theatre, the popular Fishs Eddy on Broadway.

I did not buy anything but I especially did not buy this “Club Cummings’ bar tray. Why you ask? Take a look and tell me what you see:

Yes, I took a picture of my computer. I’m professional!

Notice anything? Notice anything missing from this oh-so-colorful depiction?

Here’s the description for the product via the website:

Now everyone’s invited to the party!

Club Cumming was the name giving to Alan Cumming’s legendary Cabaret dressing room after-party at Studio 54, where he played host to a guest list as eclectic and starry as the Scotsman himself! Now Alan has created the perfect bar set for Fishs Eddy so everyone can join the party! Plus a portion of every sale will go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS so you can have fun and do good at the same time!

I have just completed the most amazing course at NYU on Jazz Dance Pedagogy and History taught by Professor Pat Cohen. In this course, I have studied the ‘roots and branches’ of the jazz dance tree beginning with African roots and the slave trade. From the plantations to the jazz era and apparently even today, African-American artists have struggled to be properly recognized for their important contributions to dance, film, and music.

Perhaps, I’m hyper sensitive to this question coming from this class, but where is the representation of the full color/racial spectrum that attended Studio 54 parties on this piece of art?

I googled ‘Studio 54 party guests’ and these are some examples of what came up (I see more than white people). If you are offended by @ssless chaps, now would be a good time to leave.

I see London, I see France, I see…Cher, where are your underbrapants?

I really like the illustrations on the Fishs Eddy piece but I would ask the artist if the all-white party platter was a conscious choice or not.

To be totally honest, I feel that the majority of my own art is centered on white women. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to draw/paint more than the demographic I tend so see in the studio or in the mirror.

But isn’t looking beyond oneself as an artist part of the job description?

Watercolor notes on Margot Webb and the beginning of my obsession with the Jazz Era. Would you like me to write a post about it? What do you mean, no!?

The takeaway lesson, at least for me, is that historical depiction and truth are not always one and the same. The second is that history- of people or parties- is constantly being rewritten, repainted, and hopefully, as this humble blog attempts to do, reexamined.

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