After the world's disco balls were packed away but before its ecstasy tablets were mass-produced, dance fiends of the late '80s and early '90s found themselves in a strange vortex of teased hair, stirrup pants, and synthesizer beats. These folks -- fast-food servers and garbagemen by day, singers and producers by night -- congregated in New York and Miami, the only cities where they could hibernate until the rave scene made it safe to come out and shake booty again.
So, how did they cope all those years? Like Anne Frank holed up in her little attic, the members of this marginalized group looked at the bright side. So what if they were being persecuted by grunge and gangsta rap? They would hunker down and have themselves a little party, where they'd inject heavy doses of bass and play with new technology like synthesizers and drum machines. Their lyrics would be unpretentious, and their jams would thump. They would keep their clothes on and sing about love. And they would like it!
A load of urban artists signed on to this pact. People like Stevie B., a former car-wash attendant who released "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" and "Party Your Body." People like Trinere, who busted out "I'll Be All You Ever Need." People like Johnny O. ("Fantasy Girl"). And lots of relatively faceless, relatively nameless, low-budget artists just like them. Alas, the rare breed did wither and go extinct. Or so we thought.
Like a skillful cultural anthropologist, radio station Party 93.1 has dusted off the hits, overturned the rubble, and tracked down Stevie, Johnny, and Trinere -- plus their modern-day, synth-wielding descendants -- to perform at its third-annual Not-So-Silent Night concert at the Miami Arena (701 Arena Blvd., Miami). Lisa Lisa will be there (minus the Cult Jam), as will Lil Suzy ("Take Me in Your Arms"), K7 ("Louder Than Love"), Coro ("Can't Let You Go"), Belgian phenom Lasgo ("Surrender") -- see photo -- and hit machine Motorcycle ("As the Rush Comes"). Sure, these acts are mostly one-hit wonders, but Party has been playing their hits over and over and over. And you've been digging them ever since you switched from the "alternative" station. Finally, justice is served. Tickets cost $20 to $75. Call 954-523-3309, or visit www.party931.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Latin laugh man
Mencia picks on everyone
Plenty of people can make jokes, but not everyone can take a joke. That is, until they hear one from comedian Carlos Mencia, who aims to balance the scales of comic karma so people learn to laugh at themselves -- and others too. "I'm the guy who lets people feel it's OK to laugh," Mencia says, noting that most people aren't offended by his material. That's because he says only what he thinks is funny. And funny it must be, as Mencia will soon have his own show on Comedy Central, where he'll be able to rant and rave about current events, saying things you won't hear from anyone on CNN -- or from most other comedians, who often water down their material for mass appeal. "So many comedians are afraid of not being liked," he says. "You're always going to be misconstrued or taken out of context. The only thing to do is be true to yourself." A sense of humor helps too. Mencia performs Thursday through Sunday at the Palm Beach Improv at CityPlace (550 S. Rosemary Ave., Ste. 250, West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $23.32. Call 561-833-1812. -- Jason Budjinski
Mom's Moving In
Actors make a play for Social Security
Middle-class, middle-aged Trudy and Martin take care of Trudy's elderly mom, Sophie, in their modest home. But when Mom gets to be too much, what is a dutiful daughter to do? Pack her off to live with rich sis Barbara and her husband, David, of course, and if Sophie disrupts their sophisticated lives as art dealers, well, let the comic high jinks ensue. That's the premise behind Social Security, the debut production from the Actor's Workshop of South Florida, a school for novices who want to do a little artistic dabbling and professionals who want to sharpen their acting chops. Think of Social Security as sort of a class project -- it's directed by teacher Jane Kelly, and the cast is made up of her students. Social Security runs from December 10 through 18, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., at the Willow Theatre in Sugar Sand Park (300 S. Military Trl., Boca Raton). Tickets cost $10. Call 561-347-3948, or visit www.theactorsworkshop.org. -- Mary Damiano
Connor's No Con
One might make the wrong assumption about a woman whose résumé includes a clip from Playboy magazine. But Joanna Connor's place is where it always is -- in the music reviews section, where the blues-rock guitarist was lauded for putting passion into what is often a genre full of lukewarm Bonnie Raitt copycats. And if you don't believe Playboy (or can't make it past the centerfold), then maybe Connor's list of past stage/tour mates might shed some light on her stature: Jimmy Page, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Los Lobos, to name a few. Connor's more than your standard blues rocker; she's not afraid to throw down a little funk or world beat -- or even a Grandmaster Flash cover, if you're lucky. Connor performs at 9 p.m. Friday at Alligator Alley (1321 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park). Call 954-771-2220. -- Jason Budjinski