Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lawrence Welk

I'm a forty-four year old man and often on Saturday nights I watch The Lawrence Welk Show.  My local PBS station airs it from six o'clock to seven o'clock.  Most people would say it's a show for senior citizens, but I thoroughly enjoy it.  I look forward to it.  Right before it starts, I usually open a bottle of wine and sip a glass as I watch and have a gay time. 

I love the 1950s and 60s jazz and musical numbers.  I love the visible orchestra seated in the background.  I love the smiling female singers with their perfectly curled up at the ends hair and the smiling male singers with their perfectly parted to the side hair.  I love their outfits and costumes. I love the choreographed dancing.  I love the sets suggesting a scene and the cyclorama lighting the back wall. I love Lawrence Welk's Norwegian American accent. I love the gayness of the men dancing in effeminate costumes.  I love the campy, cheesy, happy wholesomeness of the mid-century Hollywood production.   

The show beckons me to another era, another reality, both of them artificially constructed through the magical escape that is The Lawrence Welk Show. 

I watched the show as a boy on Saturday nights and so perhaps there is a nostalgic quality to it for me.  The happy theatricality Lawrence Welk created and shared with the world seemed glamorous compared to the small farming town in which I grew up.  The show made me realize that there are other realities out there, realities that people create for themselves, realities that I can create for myself. 

Too some extent, life is a performance.  As George Bernard Shaw wrote, “We create our lives.”   

Even now the show appeals to me for the same reason: shiny, happy people singing and dancing and acting and making their living through performance and I assume loving their living.  Maybe that's why I love it.  The Lawrence Welk Show is a reminder to me of people living joyfully because they have followed their passion.  I know it's an illusion.  They had their suffering just like we all do.  It wasn't all bubble and champagne and waltzes and colorful blinking lights.  But for the sake of their art, they set aside their discontent and faked it if they had to, because that is what performers often must do to create the illusion.

So if you're looking for a surprisingly good time, open a bottle of wine, kick back, relax, and get happy with The Lawrence Welk Show.  Or better yet, come on over, and we'll party together, Lawrence Welk Style!

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