The Ottumwa Courier

May 21, 2012

Let’s dance the last dance

Browsing Around

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Another sweet voice has left the planet.

Donna Summer, labeled as “the disco queen,” died of cancer Thursday morning in Naples, Fla., according to Brian Edwards, her publicist. Her family released a statement saying they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”

Summer wasn’t comfortable with the designation of disco queen and told people she grew up on rock and roll. When the disco fad withered away, Summer continued to make hits that included her rock roots. One of her biggest hits from the 1980s was “She Works Hard for the Money.

But her disco anthems — “I Feel Love,” “Love to Love You Baby,” and “Last Dance” — were adored by all the dancers who flocked to the discos.

Decades ago, Summer was every inch the Disco Queen, according to the Associated Press. She wore glittery gowns, had long eyelashes, luxurious hair, and glossy, open lips. She was as much a part of the culture as disco balls, polyester, platform shoes and the music’s pulsing, pounding rhythms.

Summer’s rise was inseparable from disco’s itself, even though she remained popular for years after the genre she helped invent had died. She won a Grammy for “Hot Stuff,” a fiery guitar-based song that represented her shift from disco to more rock-based sounds.

“Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted,” Elton John told the Associated Press. “She was a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly.”

I’ll miss her, too, Elton. I remember Donna’s impact and going to discos. This was in the early ’80s, and I had to travel to Des Moines or Burlington to find the good dance floors.

Tears won’t help, so let’s dance the last dance instead.