“I always try to dance when this song comes on because I am the Queen and I like to dance.” – Queen Elizabeth on ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” as quoted by BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans
I don’t know if Queen Elizabeth actually said that, but that woman does love to dance. I should know. I went with her to The Roxy one time.
It was in 1992, I think. I had plans to go the The Roxy one Saturday night with my friend Frank, who got us on the guest list. At around 9 PM we met up with some of Frank’s friends at someone’s apartment. I was introduced to Steve, Byron, Fallopia, Rich, Tom, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II, and Katie, who were all sitting around the living room chatting. Someone came out of the kitchen with something called Special K, which theretofore I thought was a breakfast cereal. Turns out it’s a horse tranquilizer that some folks used before heading off to the dance club. I don’t understand the thought process behind taking such a drug. “Before I dance, I need to take something that would sedate a 1000-pound animal.” I don’t think so.
I said “No thank you” to the drug, as did Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. She and I slipped out of the living room into a bedroom, where we sat on the hard wood floor and had a long, deep conversation about our lives at that moment. She said “I know we just met, but I feel I can be honest with you. I’m having a shitty year. Andy and Sarah split up. Anne and Mark divorced. Music has always been my refuge, but I’m bored by the scene these days. I like some of that rave music, but I am over Simply Red. Move on already! And those Erasure covers of ABBA are fun, but they don’t hold a candle to the original versions. Did you know ABBA wrote ‘Dancing Queen’ about me? I am the dancing queen!” Then she started singing “I can dance, I can jive.”
I started to tell her we were in agreement about everything she said. “Your royal highness Queen Elizabeth II, I –“, but she cut me off.
“There is no need to be so formal. Call me Lizzy.”
Fallopia came in the room and told us it was time to get going. We got to The Roxy and went up to the doorman. He checked off my name from his list; however, Her Royal High-, I mean, Lizzy didn’t have any ID on her. I argued with the doorman. “Of course this is the real Elizabeth II! How many other people in a gown and wearing a tiara do you see here??” He motioned for me to look around. Sure enough, there were at least a dozen men dressed in gowns wearing tiaras. I loaned Lizzy $15 to get in after finally convincing the doorman that she was over 21.
When we got inside Lizzy said to me “Ah, The Roxy. I heard this is where all the dancing queens go. Tee hee!” She was so amused by her joke. I thought it was hack material.
The night we were there CeCe Peniston was scheduled to perform. “If she sings ‘Finally’ I’m going to lose my shit!,” the Queen said to me.
“Lizzy – she’s going to sing ‘Finally.’ She’s CeCe Peniston. What else would she sing? ‘In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida?’”
Sure enough, when CeCe started singing “Meeting Mr. Right, the man of my dreams…,” Lizzy went bananas. She screamed and threw her crown in the air. A bunch of shirtless muscular guys carried her around the club, while she screamed “Ooh ooh, party over here! Ooh ooh, party over there!”
After CeCe’s twenty-minute set Lizzy yelled to the DJ “Oi! Play ‘Dancing Queen!’” I told her they don’t play songs like that on the main floor and led her to a small room at the end of the club.
“Here you may hear Abba.”
“I love me some Abba,” she said. “I especially like the songs where they repeat words. ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!,’ ‘On and On and On,”‘Honey Honey,’ ‘I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do,’ ‘Money Money Money.’” She started singing the latter very loud. “If I had a little money, it’s a rich man’s world.” She ran around the room singing this, annoying the people who were trying to enjoy dancing to a Grease medley. A guy said to me “Hey – you better control your woman!”
I took the Queen by the hand and led her from the club. “Okay, Lizzy. We have to get you into a taxi.”
The cabs were lined up outside the club. I put her in one while she kept singing “I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay / Ain’t it sad / And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me / That’s too bad.”
“Where to?,” asked the driver. I realized I didn’t know where the Queen was staying while in New York.
“Lizzy! Stop singing for a moment and tell the driver where to take you!”
“Oh, I’m staying at a youth hostel somewhere on 14th Street. Just drive and I’ll point it out when I see it. In my dreams I have a plan. If I got me a wealthy man…I wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a ball.”
Months later I received a postcard. “My dearest Glenn – Chuck and Di split up. Can’t say I’m surprised. It’s the perfect ending to this annus horribilis. (That means horrible year, not something gay! Tee hee!) Still, I keep twirling! I’ll catch you in the new year! xoxo, Lizzy ♥ ♥ ♥”
Today is the birthday of one of the members of ABBA who isn’t female, Benny Andersson. Here are twenty of the group’s best.
(For Lizzy, who still owes me $15.)
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