Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Smithsonian Just Got Soul: Soul Train Awards by DeNeen Brown

By DeNeen Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Peace, love and soooooooul spilled out of a white tent Thursday night on the Mall as a crowd boogied down a massive “Soul Train” line. The event celebrating a donation of artifacts from the popular 1970s-era TV show to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture had, appropriately, turned into a dance party.

A man in brown dress socks and white Converse shoes danced wildly next to a prim woman in a platinum sheath. Nearby, a woman dressed straight out of the iconic television program, in hot pants and platform shoes, grooved to the old-school music pumping through the speakers. Those in the multiracial crowd laughed and threw their hands in the air as they danced the Bump, the Loose Booty, the Robot and the Funky Chicken.“Girl, you better swing it! Push it, baby!” yelled Tyrone “the Bone” Proctor, an original “Soul Train” dancer who taught the crowd iconic dances.

The woman in hot pants pumped a little harder and swung her arms.

“Oh, my!” Proctor yelled. “Stop it! You are impressing me!”

To help celebrate its 40th anniversary, “Soul Train” — which began airing nationally in 1971 and became one of the longest-airing nationally syndicated first-run programs in television history — donated five signature props for the museum’s exhibitions “Musical Crossroads,” “Black Popular Culture” and “Make a Way Out of No Way.” The museum is set to be completed on the Mall in 2015.

The items that were donated: “Applause” signs, the 10-foot-wide neon “Soul Train” sign, the neon “Soul Train Awards” sign, silver African heads from the awards program, and the Scramble Board, on which dancers unscrambled word puzzles quickly, then broke out in dance.