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June 20, 2019 Comments Off on SMC’s “Summer of 69” Answers The Musical Question: “What Was On The Stonewall’s Jukebox?” Views: 329 All Ages Events, Arts & Entertainment, Arts News, Choral, Concerts, Family Friendly, Gay 101, Kid Friendly (Under 12), Legends, Memory Lane, Music, News, Pride, Queer History, Queer Music, Seattle Pride 2019, Stonewall 50, World Pride 2019

SMC’s “Summer of 69” Answers The Musical Question: “What Was On The Stonewall’s Jukebox?”

smcSummerOf69

Or, I assume it does.

Seattle Men’s Chorus is getting ready for their big annual Pride show, happening this Friday night (June 21) and Saturday afternoon (June 22nd) at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle (get tickets HERE.) It’s the SUMMER OF 69 as the Chorus narrows their song list to music popular in that seminal year of 1969 that in addition to the Stonewall Riots, that helped create the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement, but also included a lot of other insanely important stuff like the First Men on the Moon and Woodstock and the Vietnam War escalating and the Manson Murders and…

A lot happened that year!

Obviously, Songs from the Stonewall is a clever/smart theme for a show and the Stonewall Rebellion Veteran’s Association website has a lot of information on what would have been playing on the two jukeboxes they had at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. And, yes, they did have two…for those of you unaware, the Stonewall Inn consisted of two large rooms, each with its own dance floor and jukebox and each room had its own “vibe”.

WARNING: LGBTQ HISTORY LESSON AHEAD!!!!!

The front/main room of the Stonewall was typically where the older, more mainstream crowd would have gathered and its jukebox reflected that with more “middle of the road” song choices including lots and lots of Sinatra and Streisand; it’s been speculated that the mostly Italian management of the Stonewall influenced the song selections on the front room juke….

Note 1: If you go to the Stonewall today, you’re not even IN that original part of the 1969 bar. The original Stonewall was two separate buildings, 51 and 53 Christopher Street with the entrance in the middle, then you immediately turned right and then left into the front bar which occupied the 51 Christopher Street space. That space is now a separate business; for a longtime it was a nail salon/spa.

The “back room” at the 1969 Stonewall was entered through the front room and actually took you back into the 53 Christopher Street building which is now the space solely occupied by the contemporary version of the Stonewall. This room was “funkier” where the younger crowd and the “queens” hung out.

Note 2: “Queens” in 1969 would have been an all encompassing word for anyone overtly effeminate/non-masculine acting or appearing. Drag queens, transvestites, transgender people, non-conforming, genderqueer, sissy, etc would have all been generically labeled a “queen” by themselves as well as by others.

The backroom’s jukebox was decidedly more lively and uptempo and featured lots and lots of Motown music…Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, etc.

In a nutshell: front room = upper 20s/30s, whiter, male presenting, more conservative

Back room=upper teens/20s, more ethnic, more femme, more free spirited….more likely to pop a pill to go with their watered down drink in a filthy glass

Note 3: The bars at the Stonewall didn’t have running water. They had buckets of water under the bar where glasses would be rinsed out between uses. Obviously, the buckets would be filthy by the end of the night….buyer beware! (Side note: hepatitis outbreaks were an issue at the Stonewall…)

Note 4: The Stonewall was popular mostly because it offered dancing opportunities with its two dance floors. Same sex dancing was against the law and the Stonewall, as a “private” club got away with it since it had a stringent door system in place. If cops showed up, they had time to warn same sex dancers to “break it up”.

Also note that the cover was steep for the time; $3 on the weekend and a $1 during the week. Sounds like nothing in today’s money but in 1969 the minimum wage was like a $1.15. So, that would be the equivalent of $12 to $15 today. In other words, bopping into the Stonewall on a Wednesday in 1969 would be like going to a bar today and paying $12 bucks to get in…which did you get two drinks. On a Saturday, you’d pay the equivalent of $35 to $40 to get in. That was a considerable chunk of money, at least for anyone with a low wage job, or in the case of much of its clientele, which included many street kids/sex workers, a lot of tricks to turn.

Per the Stonewall Veteran’s page, here’s their “Top 10”:

  1.  No Matter What Sign You Are (You’re Gonna Be Mine You Are)b/w= The Young Folks…Diana Ross & The Supremes
  2. More Today Than Yesterday……………………….The Spiral Starecase
  3. Stand!………………………………………..Sly & The Family Stone
  4. Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (from “Hair”)………..The Fifth Dimension
  5. My Way………………………………………..Frank Sinatra
  6. I Turned You On………………………………..The Isley Brothers
  7. Before The Parade Passes By (from “Hello, Dolly!)….Barbra Streisand
  8. Don’t Let The Joneses Get You Down……………….Dennis Edwards & The Temptations
  9. The More I See You (re-released 1969)…………….Chris Montez
  10. We’ve Got Honey Love……………………………Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
  11. Romeo And Juliet Love Theme………………Henry Mancini Orchestra
  12. What Does It Take To Win Your Love….Jr. Walker & The All Stars
  13. Grazin’ In The Grass…………………………….The Friends of Distinction
  14. Too Busy Thinking ‘Bout My Baby………………………….Marvin Gaye
  15. Crystal Blue Persuasion………………………Tommy James & Shondells
  16. This Is My Life!…………………………………………………..Shirley Bassey
  17. Build Me Up, Buttercup…………………………………….The Foundations
  18. Good Morning Starshine (from “Hair”)……………….Oliver
  19. You Came, You Saw, You Conquered…………………Ronnie Spector & Ronettes
  20. My Cherie Amour……………………………………………….Stevie Wonder

 

More info on the SMC show:

Seattle Men’s Chorus

Woodstock. The moon landing. Vietnam. Stonewall. In the summer of 1969, current events churned into an era of rebellion and change. SMC transports us back to this vibrant year through the chart-topping, culture-defining music that blared through turntables and transistor radios. Joining with a coalition of LGBTQ choruses across the country, we also present “Quiet No More,” an inspiring new musical theater work that tells the stories of the Stonewall riots and the birth of the struggle to live life out loud.

Featuring hits from Marvin Gaye, Three Dog Night, Sly & the Family Stone, The 5th Dimension and more!

Benaroya Hall

*features certified-ASL interpretation

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