When I started on this project, I didn’t have music in mind as an important element in The L.A. Stories. I didn’t even conceive of The L.A. Stories at that time: I seriously only thought I was going to adapt this old screenplay … and look what happened!
Anyway, music ended up playing a role in ‘Getting Off’ kind of by default: my protagonists Vicky and Sharon go out dancing together as one of their first adventures once Vicky gets her freeloading ex-boyfriend out of the house. They go out with a guy who’s already a dancer, to a place with West Coast Swing, and Vicky likes it (and him) so much that she keeps dancing.
Note: if you are not familiar with West Coast Swing, I encourage you to search YouTube for videos featuring Benji Schwimmer, winner of season 2 of ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ One of his competition videos is below, but there is lots of other “delicious” out there!
She keeps dancing, in fact, forever: Vicky and Sharon are recurring characters in The L.A. Stories. They go to the Gay Games to compete in dance (along with heroes Sam and Mateo) in ‘Beat,’ and by the time we get to 2015 in L.A. Stories time, Vicky is participating in professionally-staged dance concerts and learning technique that you might see on ‘World of Dance.’
But where it starts is, of course, with the music.
Music is a requirement for social dancing. Nearly all of the protagonists of The L.A. Stories engage in social dancing. The few who do not dance still have a close connection to, and appreciation for, music. One example is Tyrone, hero of ‘Chai at Midnight,’ who is the owner of the club called Chrome that is the home of most of the dance shows described in the series. He doesn’t dance himself, but he is the entertainment booker as well as the owner; he is well aware of the role of music in keeping a crowd of paying customers happy and thirsty. Another example would be Charlene, heroine of ‘Benchwork,’ who is a non-dancing M.D. but whose brother Ray (hero of ‘Mating Dance’) is a dancer.
Tina, heroine of ‘Drawn Out,’ discovers that her lover Reza can’t dance. I suspect that he will learn.
I grew up in a musical family; my parents and sister and I can sing, all of us have played at least one instrument for at least part of our lives, and all of us have participated in some kind of staged musical entertainment. In my case those experiences range from singing in a juvenile production of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ to dancing in a stage production here in L.A. that was based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. I grew up listening to music ranging from Gilbert & Sullivan to Blood Sweat and Tears, and I still listen to all kinds of stuff.
Each of The L.A. Stories has a playlist. This is an idea I got from author Carrie Vaughn and her Kitty the Werewolf series. The playlists don’t necessarily contain songs ‘heard’ during the course of the story, but they’re intended to serve as a soundtrack for the story. They are meant to help convey the tone, and illustrate some of the emotional beats that will come up. All of the music in the playlists is commercially available, though not all is available in all formats.
Many of The L.A. Stories refer to shows. For those, I had to be careful; a show described as occurring in 2012 cannot contain music released in 2013. Fortunately there is this wonderful research tool called ‘the Internet.’ At any rate, if you enjoy one of the stories, I encourage you to take a listen to the music described in the story. It’s there for a reason.