Moment of Coolness: Xanadu Dancin’ Scene

Xanadu is a cheesy movie.  Make no mistake, this movie is a quintessential 80s cheese movie.  It oozes–nay, fountains–with cheese.

I still love it.

However, there is one scene in particular that stood out for me.  Rose a bit above the standard cheese.  It’s the “Dancin'” scene featuring The Tubes.  First off, the inclusion of The Tubes is a weird choice because, well, they’re a friggin’ weird-ass band.  Aside from the one single “She’s a Beauty”, they aren’t what you call a mainstream band.  They mostly fit comfortably in ‘cult’ status.

The rest of the music in the movie, by contrast, is very much mainstream for the eighties.  Not that I dislike ELO and Olivia Newton-John, but they’re not exactly edgy.  The Tubes, on the other hand, skate uncomfortably on the edge of pornography from time to time.

Plus, Gene Kelly is in this movie.  Yes, that Gene Kelly.  Dancin’ in the goddamn rain Gene Kelly.  In fact, this was essentially his last movie.  Old bastard could still dance, too, as he did a dancing scene with Olivia in the movie as well, which was also kinda cool.  Gene is not an actor one usually associates with anything the slightest bit ‘edgy’.

But I digress.

Anyway, the scene goes that the two characters Danny (Michael Beck of The Warriors ‘fame’) and Sonny (Gene Kelly) are out searching for the perfect spot for his new nightclub.  They find an old wrestling arena and look around it.  The two of them have two different images of the music for the club.  Sonny wants a Big Band, bandstand and a retro-forties look.  Danny wants a rock band in spandex and leather.  The two different bands appear in the darkness of the club as they’re individually described.

Then the scenes go back and forth from the Big Band to The Tubes, each doing different numbers.  Then, the two scenes ‘bump into’ one another and ‘merge’, both musically and physically.  the two sets slide into one another and the dancers and musicians sync up their songs.  This is all done with mechanical effects and choreography, long before CGI or anything close. 

The overall effect is . . . surprisingly good.  Still dated and cheesy, but not at all bad.  A very interesting use of compare/contrast that links up nicely.  It rises above the level of the movie quite nicely. 

Check it out.

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