Discomfit the disco dancer whose boogie shoes are too much to bear.
Panfilo is a bear of a man, dark tufts sprouting from his open collar — a cornicello impossibly lost in that dark thicket of chest hair. He’s never been more alive than he is at this moment, pumping his fist in the air as Baccara do it in their video. He floats on the violin glissando. Yes, sir he can boogie.
The thundering sound system lifts him bodily somewhere stratospheric — the music coursing through every nerve and blood vessel. A sensation akin to being picked up by the scruff of the neck and transported up by his particular god and seeing all creation below him. Electric. Erotic.
Panfilo’s lone cavil: his Pierre Cardin wingtips are one-half size too small, but he had to have them for tonight — these brown 11-1/2’s with the metal emblem on the heel. “This is Studio 54, baby,” he says, as benediction, to the dancefloor.
Panfilo strokes his John Holmes-issue mustache: meticulous in it’s curation, and manicured to resemble his idol’s. Panfilo hopes his sleight of hand works — he stuffed a strategic sock in his underwear after his blow dry. But now he’s dazed in the dance. The fraud firm and forgotten as the lights swirl above him and the bubbles float down. Despite the two-hour wait at the velvet rope — he’s in. This is a life fully lived at the edge of a credit card and a rolled up Jackson. He sings loud, for everyone to hear, but he might as well be miming: “Yes sir, I can boogie… I can boogie, boogie-woogie, all night long…”
He’s at the center of the universe. The feel of his picked-out perm bouncing off his temples and shoulders sends jolts of adrenalized joy through his body. His popping hips and shoulder-jousts cry out: love me tonight!
Panfilo catches the glint of Tatiana’s lip gloss as she sweeps up dancing to him.
Tatiana loves this song. Loves how the singers pronounce “boogie-woogie” as Bela Lugosi might, with that implosive Hungarian inflection “Ay, can boogie, boogie-voogie all night long…” And she loves Panfilo’s look, and what he seems to be packing. She’s a recent fan having seen a sequence of a Holmes film at a “key party.”
“This is the best time to be alive,” Tatiana said, as she and a friend smoked a joint on a white shag carpet in Teaneck.
“Can you imagine our mothers living through this? My God,” Tatiana said, “1978 is going to be a good year!”
Tonight Tatiana’s trying something new. She read in Cosmopolitan that a dry cleaner bag rolled up in two mounds makes for realistic looking bra-stuffing. And while she’s already sweating up a storm as she approaches Panfilo she catches him sizing up her handiwork. The hint of a smile. Success.
She, too, has seen the Baccara video and she breaks into the same practiced hip-shimmy as the singers hit that “boogie-voogie” inflection point she so loves. It’s her first dance at 54.
“1978 is turning out to be a great year,” Tatiana says to Panfilo, as the DJ mixes in a new song — pitches perfectly synchronized on the downbeat.
Minutes later they’re both singing “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” to each other.
“As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are.”
— Quentin Tarantino