Dance, pop and play chicken

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As our hazy and damp nonsummer draws to a close, this past weekend saw your intrepid columnist seeking the heat in Pontiac, where the Fanclub Foundation for the Arts threw its second annual Caliente Dos Latin Dance Party. The event featured the red-hot 15-piece Latin sounds of Orquesta Sensacional, as well as an array of food and art, all spread out over two levels in a cavernous but majestic old bank building in downtown Pontiac.

In addition, the early portions of the soiree featured complimentary dance lessons taught by Elaine Marrero of Troy Dance Studios. Marrero and dance partner Victor Ortiz were billed as the reigning world salsa dance champions, and later put on a bedazzling and spectacular dance display to the tune “Tito Tuento,” which unfortunately ended in Marrero’s face being accidentally shmushed on the marble floor. (I think Ortiz lost his grip ... next time don’t forget the resin bag.)

The reaction in the crowd was akin to what you probably encounter at a figure skating competition when the male partner whiffs at catching his diminutive female partner who was previously twirling through the air, i.e. a bit of a muffled gasp, then polite applause to cover up the embarrassing moment of initial silence. You have to hand it to the dancers, however, as they got right back out on the dance floor later, along with the 500 or so other folks who filled the building.

Included in those 500 folks were my costumed companions for the evening, Don Juan and Miguel, who made the trek down from the Renaissance Fest in Holly to join in the festivities. The wayward Spaniards assisted me throughout the evening, fetching paella and sangria, as well as conducting spontaneous Spanish Inquisitions on unsuspecting partygoers.

Among those they corralled were Michelle Brock of Royal Oak, as well as Pontiac Chamber of Commerce President Rosemary Gallardo. They failed, however, in securing intimate details from a woman who claimed to be a personal trainer to many local celebrities (a potentially ripe mother lode of gossip, alas).

The art gallery upstairs featured a diverse mix of paintings, photography and sculpture from Gallery FunctionArt in Pontiac as well as local arts collective AWOL and wood sculptor Farrer Coston, whose work is also featured in Gallery FunctionArt.

While admiring the artwork, I chatted with attorney Peter Woll and wife Rachel, as well as Michelle Lanoo and Pete Wardowski of AWOL, whose work has been featured at the C-POP gallery on several occasions.

In any event, kudos to Fanclub Prez John Bloom, as well as Kristine Dickson, Dawn New and the countless other members of the Foundation for putting on a memorable adios to summer.


Speaking of C-POP, the gallery took its show on the road last weekend to Dallas, where the Forbidden Gallery and Emporium put on a show entitled “D Pop — Three Artists from Detroit.”

Making the trip to the Lone Star State were Niagara, Matt Gordon and Tom Thewes, along with fledgling C-POP director Sharon Currey.

When I stopped into the gallery last Thursday, Currey was wondering aloud whether she would have her own hotel room in Dallas, and asked Niagara if she might be able to bunk up with her. Nothing like a good road trip and slumber party-pillow fight to acclimate a new personality into the C-POP stables.

While we’re on the C-POP soap opera, talented artist and gallery moneybags Thewes recently returned from a few weeks of R&R in Bora Bora with girlfriend Erica Griffor, who happened to be sporting a huge two-and-a-half carat heart-shaped engagement diamond on her finger. Griffor, devoted readers may recall, was formerly billed by chrome-domed erstwhile C-POP Svengali Rick Manore as his “protégé.”

Manore, meanwhile, has gone off to launch a radio show, tentatively entitled “Devil’s Advocate,” with local shutterbug eWolf (né Eric Wheeler) and moderator Joell. Manore has described the proposed show as a provocative and agitating riff, replete with, among other things, (anti-) racism, anti-unionist sentiment, youth-sex on parade along with Illinois nazis and jingoistic hyperbole. That just about covers all the bases. I think a nice cushy slot right after Paul W. Smith on WJR would be perfect for that show.

In the meantime, while shopping the demo tape, Manore will continue relentlessly foisting his latest Downriver band-of-the-moment, Lanternjack, on an unsuspecting populace. Look for the goat mask at a venue near you.


In other important local news tidbits, sources report that Chicken Shack doled out 2.5 tons of chicken wings at the Dream Cruise, setting a record of some sort for those who keep track of such things. Unfortunately, however, Chicken Shack recently tore down its old yellow, Formica-clad store on 11 Mile, along with a classic neon sign that one can only hope was donated to the Henry Ford Museum. No word yet on whether the new Chicken Shack’s exhaust system saturates the air with the pungent and inescapable bouquet of deep-frying grease like the old one.

This just in: There is an apparent influx of wild coyotes in metro Detroit, cavorting about in Washtenaw County (site of a 17-sheep smorgasbord), as well as some friendly backyards in Farmington Hills, Washington Township and Sterling Heights. The coyotes were also no doubt feeding on the bones of 2.5 tons of chicken wings left behind by Dream Cruise denizens.

One can only hope that these animals don’t start crossbreeding with the Warren liger or Wixom panther, thereby creating a fearsome wild CatDog. Call your local animal control authorities for more information.

Casey Coston writes about development in Detroit. E-mail him at [email protected]
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