Hotline

Nothing spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S like being at the thrift store at 7:30 a.m. to score some t-shirts.

If memory serves, the last time I was in the thrift store, the store speakers emitted the musical stylings of Latino bands that I have a) never heard of, and b) could not sing along with. For me, the music on the thrift store P.A. system didn’t enhance the shopping experience. In fact, I would venture to say that it was sort of a turn-off. Because for me, not being able to hum along to a song while sifting through used clothing makes the music sort of pointless, and at times, downright distracting.

I don’t know if others complained, or if some marketing wiz at the thrift store decided to focus on a different demographic, but change is in the air. And they got me. Hook, line and sinker. I could have stayed there all day. It was like Sirius had programmed the best disco and easy listening hits from the ’70s, wrapped them up in a big huge bow and said, “Here, thrift store, try this.”

Among one of the songs played at the thrift store this very morning was “Hotline” by The Sylvers, who are best remembered for their hit “Boogie Fever.” It was during that two minutes and 46 seconds that I shopped with a spring in my step.

The Sylvers inspired a nation of young white people to shed their inhibitions and get their groove on.

Here’s why: in the late 1970s, a group of the whitest kids ever to live in Marietta, Georgia had big dreams of performing Sylvers hits on “The Gong Show.” The group was made up of Susan Hardy, Kim Cambrun, Cindy Crane, Kevin White and David somebody — I can’t remember his name, but he knows who he is — and yours truly. Every afternoon for several weeks, this group of neighborhood fifth-graders would hop off the school bus, run to our respective homes to eat a snack, then meet back at Cindy Crane’s house for rehearsal.

If you watch the video (and you should, really), you will see that The Sylvers group was made up of eight or nine snappy-dressed black people. We worked with what we had. (I have somehow already managed to use “Latino,” “white” and “black” references, and I’m only halfway through this thing.  Like I’m channeling  Archie Bunker.) To our advantage was Cindy Crane’s massive unfinished basement, which had those big round poles that the background singers could spin around on, holding on with one hand. It proved a real boost to our choreography. As we performed “Hotline,” we embellished our performance by holding invisible phones to our ears on cue. It was a nice touch. Even more remarkable was that this piece of music history took place years before music videos were the norm. You could say we were would-be pioneers.

Alas, our dreams died when Kim Cambrun moved to Fort Lauderdale, and as happens with so many promising musical groups, we went our separate ways and abandoned our dreams of meeting Chuck Barris and panelists Rex Reed and Phyllis Diller. Those were the two who counted, anyway.

Had things gone according to our plans, who knows? Maybe ours would be the music piped into thrift stores nationwide. And maybe I wouldn’t be rifling through other people’s discards at 7:30 a.m. That’s some raw honesty from a white girl.

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