The Disco Ball 2016 was, in the immortal words of Don Cornelius, “a stone gas honey!”
Billed as “One Nation Under a Cause,” the second annual Soul Train Dancer Awards was held Sunday March 20 at the Couture Hollywood. The Disco Ball itself has been ongoing for seven years.
As with last year’s event, the focal point of the evening was to honor Soul Train Dancers from different decades. The honorees were: Tyrone “the Bone” Proctor, Benita Hill Johnson, Perry Brown, Bill “Slim the Robot” Williams, Yolanda Toussaint, Fawn Quinones, Lewis Deputy Green, Marco De Santiago, Crystal McCarey, Diana Puskas, Leonard Jones, Choisette Frost, Angelia McIntyre, Reggie Thornton, Thomas “Tom Tom” Evans, Tim Harrell, Carolyn Vegiga Johnson, Jeffrey McCrimon, Christine Vanitaya, Grady Harrell, Dana Dee Washington, Alina Bell and myself for my contributions to helping to keep the legacy of the dancers alive through my monthly Diary of an ex-Soul Train Dancer column for SoulTrain.com in addition to having been a dancer on the show.
The Soul Train Dancers Awards is an independent awards show and is not affiliated with the Soul Train brand.
Brandy Sanders, also a former Soul Train Dancer, is the organizer of the annual event, which is also a fundraiser for her Nu Skool Sings Old School organization to benefit children who are pursuing careers in the arts and entertainment fields. One of the longest running members of the organization, Hanani Taylor, blew the audience away with her dynamic tribute to Nina Simone and James Brown.
Two other members of the organization, talented twins Chrystal and Chyna Johnson, who are also goddaughters of the late legendary Natalie Cole, sang an excellent tribute in memory of their godmother. They are daughters of Soul Train Dancer honoree Benita Hill Johnson.
Tributes were also paid to legendary singers Barry White and Johnny Bristol. Their daughters, Denise White and Karla Gordy Bristol, graciously received the awards on their late fathers’ behalf.
Red carpet hosting duties for the event were presented by former Soul Train Dancer Juliette Hagerman.
In addition, a special award was given to former Right On! Magazine editor Flo Jenkins in recognition for being the first major magazine to spotlight the Soul Train Dancers.
Comedienne/Actress Melanie Comarcho had the audience hysterical with laughter with her unique brand of comedy. Other celebrity guests in attendance included Kathleen Bradley Redd, who played Ms. Parker in the hit movie Friday; Jon Jon Harreld of the R&B group Troop and R&B Historian and Commentator of TV One’s UnSung, Tyrone DuBose. Legendary actor Ernest Thomas, who played Roger Thomas on the classic sitcom What’s Happening! was also in attendance. At one point, he and I broke out doing his famous Roger Thomas dance move on the dance floor which had several people watching.
Actor Ernest Thomas, who played Roger Thomas on the classic What’s Happening! television show, was also in attendance. At one point, he and I broke out doing his famous Roger Thomas dance move on the dance floor which had everyone watching.
Many of the former dancers and guests arrived to the event stylishly dressed in afro wigs and seventies attire, looking as if they were about to go to a seventies Soul Train taping.
The mood was festive and lively throughout the evening as the dancers reunited with one another reminiscing, laughing and taking photos and danced to old school soul, funk, disco and rap. And of course, what Soul Train event would be complete without a Soul Train line? The dancers showcased that they still got the dance skills that made them eye candy to many Soul Train viewers over the years.
Indeed, Disco Ball 2016 was an incredible evening filled with much love, peace and soul!
Journalist, actor, filmmaker, dancer, performer, writer, poet, historian and choreographer. That’s Stephen McMillian.