Folks, perhaps you are reading this magazine and thinking of moving to Birmingham. Maybe you do not live here yet, but you find yourself strangely attracted to any city lorded over by a towering statue of Vulcan. If you are not yet sold on our city, you are about to be. Fasten your belts. I am going to describe to you an event unparalleled anywhere. Really. And it takes place every April at our own historic Alabama Theatre.
I am not talking about tap recital. No, not a bunch of cranky children aboard "The Good Ship Lollipop." I am talking about grown-ups, mature, tax-paying citizens, ages 20-70, resplendent in feathers and sequins and day-glo. I am talking about the Time Step Studio Adult Tap Spectacular, and "spectacular" it is.
Let me set the stage. Picture, if you will, your mother parading proudly in a chicken costume. Imagine your favorite aunt dressed like a cell phone in silver lame. Envision your brother, over worked father of four, flaunting his stuff in a giant yellow M&M costume with shiny white gloves. Or, to summarize in three words: Grandma in fishnet. You're starting to get the picture.
For one night a year, southern belles (and gents!)
shrug off the dull veneer of propriety because, in the musical words of
Gene Kelley, they “gotta dance!”
They have just got to, and my hat’s off to them.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of a
tap recital that traces its roots to a humble warehouse in
What makes this show unique is its unwavering
commitment to fun. Vernon
Push, quite the dancer himself, designs sets to match each year’s musical
theme. A giant
type-writer descended behind the smiling faces of tapping secretaries in
the “Get A Job” show. For the
theme, “The Name Game.” Mary
Gayle Davidson costumed the dancers in everything from
Despite pregnancy, broken arms, and overwhelming stage
fright, the dancers know that the show must go on. A few find courage in the bottle,
and, like any professional, Louise is very strict in her alcohol
policy: “If you plan to have
a drink the night of the show – REHEARSE IT! Don’t wait until the night of the
drinking the same amount at dress rehearsal so you will know your limit
before the show.” Do you see
why I love these people?
So, sure, there are some ladies out there a bit, shall
we say, tipsy in their tapping, but if you had to squeeze your size 10
body into a size 4 banana suit, wouldn’t you be, too?
Tap Spectacular packs ‘em in.
The seating is first-come, first-served; in fact, one man, every
year, arrives six hours early on the day of the show with his chair and
snacks so that he will be the first one in a line that winds all the way
around the block and to the McWane Center. Birminghamians eat this stuff up,
as we should. In other
cities, you can attend lovely, tepid performances of theater and dance,
but here in the ‘Ham we got Louise Beard dressed as Lady Godiva strutting
to an ovation of adoring fans.
Her main goal, as she tells the dancers, is to have a good
time. Who cares about
mistakes? When the tail
feathers fall off a chicken costume, that’s the stuff of legends. There is no scorn or derision in
Time Step Studio
504 Dexter Avenue
Birmingham, AL 35213
3429 Springhill Road
Birmingham, AL 35223