Dancers Turned Recording Artists Take Center Stage At L.A. Pride’s Opening Ceremony
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA– Kicking off the L.A. Pride! musical festivities with a free concert featuring the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning artist Paula Abdul celebrating the opening ceremony of 2019 LA Pride. This kick-off, together with the new “Pride on the Boulevard” initiative, was L.A. Pride’s way of engaging a wider swath of the Los Angeles community who weren’t able to purchase tickets to the actual festival.
But Paula Abdul wasn’t the only entertainment slated on this Friday night.
In addition to the various DJ’s spinning music throughout the area, the season nine American Idol stand-out Todrick Hall put on an opening-day worthy performance that shone a spotlight on his unmatched charisma, undeniable dancing ability, and four (!) costume changes.
Earlier this year, this singer, songwriter, actor, director, choreographer, and YouTuber released his second EP Haus Party, Pt 1. It is intended to be the first installment in a series of EPs that he says is dedicated to LGBT culture, especially drag queens and pride. In an interview with Billboard.com, Todrick explained:
“I was going to a Lizzo concert and everybody was playing songs at the house, and they were talking about how they just had a house party. And I was like, “I think I should do that, because these are songs that you would want to play at a party.” The “haus” part was inspired by a fashion house or ballroom house; it just felt very just gay to me. I just think that it’s a house party for sure, but it’s specifically a house party where fabulous, fashionable people would be.
So I wanted to create music for that. I would like this to be an album that, the entire Pride month, you could play from top to bottom and you wouldn’t need to mix it with other songs. I hope that I get lots and lots of Instagram story tags where people are listening to it at their house parties, because that’s what it was created for.”
And bring the party he did.
With his four dancers matching him step for step, Todrick brought the dance vibes out early and with a fierceness that behooves his esteemed reputation as a dancer. The “Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels” singer added to his visual presentation by changing costumes quickly and often, ending his set in a fabulous unicorn-inspired, drag queen outfit that got as many cheers as his singing did.
The “dance” theme for Friday’s Opening Ceremony at L.A. Pride was 24/7 on the MAC stage at L.A. Pride’s Opening Ceremony celebration.
Vogue, or voguing, is a highly stylized, modern house dance that has its origins in the Harlem ballroom scene from the 1960 and really hit the mainstream cultural vein when Madonna release his ubiquitous hit “Vogue” in 1990. It’s an ever-evolving style of dance, but at its core, it’s all about a confident attitude and the willingness to strut without fear. Its underlying culture is all about escape and acceptance, and the understanding that dances, particularly voguing, involves the shared belief in love for all.
The amazing costumes… the awe-inspiring choreography … the carefree humor … it may not have been the biggest stage at the festival, but it certainly was the source of some fantastic fun.
The Queen of L.A. Pride on Friday was the inimitable Paula Abdul.
Though she hasn’t released a new album since her 1995 album Head Over Heels, there’s no question that Paula Abdul’s three-album repertoire has endured. She ruled the late 80s and early 90s with her 6 straight #1 hits (“Straight Up”, “Forever Your Girl”, “Cold Hearted”, “Opposites Attract”, “Rush Rush” and “Promise of A New Day”, and she ruled L.A. Pride by giving her fans a “greatest hits” presentation of her recording career.
What was especially amazing to watch how fearless and agile Paula was. Before Paula made it big in the music industry, she was a highly sought after choreographer and dancer (beginning her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers and choreographing The Jacksons Victory Tour and a series of Janet Jackson music videos including “Nasty”, “When I Think of You” and “Control”. Her performance at L.A. Pride demonstrated that she hasn’t lost a step.
At a young 57 years, Paula’s choreography and dance moves were sharp and on point. She even did a pair of wireless leaps from the top of structures on the stage into the arms of her fellow dancers. I think everyone in the audience collectively held their breaths when it happened.
In a particularly moving moment of the performance, during one of her costume changes, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles stepped on stage to start her chart-topping ballad “Rush Rush”.
The LGBTQ community has always embraced Paula and her music, and she expressed her sincerest thanks for being included in this year’s festivities. In fact, she professed that she had long been hopeful that L.A. Pride would ask her to perform, and she couldn’t have been happier that it finally happened.
Paula Abdul begins her Las Vegas residency at the Flamingo on August 13th, and it certainly looks like her show is ready to delight.