The 1950s and rock n’ roll are coming back to Shanghai with the city’s first Sock Hop party. Brian Offenther, better known as DJ B.O., has teamed up with local volunteer group BEAN and organized a night of oldies music and costumes to raise money for the elderly in Shanghai.
If you’re not sure what a sock hop is, it’s an informal dance at American high schools that was popular back in the Baby Boom era, usually held in the gymnasiums or cafeterias. The dancers were required to remove their shoes and dance in socks or stockings to protect the floors from scratching.
“This time you will be keeping your shoes on, but the fun will be the same”, says DJ B.O. He will be spinning all the original Sock Hop Golden Oldies – 50’s pop, doowop, rock’n’roll and jive. Local rockabilly band, The Beat Bandits, will be playing live as well.
“Only the best rock’n’roll music will be played,” he promised, “and nothing past March of 1963- start of the Beatelmania.”
Where: Lune, 4F, 218 Xinle Lu, corner of Donghu Lu
From: 9pm onwards
Cover: 20RMB, all going to elderly organizations in Shanghai
Expect to hear the tunes of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
Brian describes himself as a teacher, reporter, DJ, dancer, fashion designer and – above all – a nice guy. Before he came to Shanghai, he was involved in Mongolia as a Peace Corp volunteer where he was teaching English.
He also DJed for a local radio station, anchored a TV network and managed a night club. He’s always been involved with music and wanted to spread his favorite songs around. Hence the idea for the Sock Hop party: rock and roll is one of his favorites – “easy and nice to dance to.” “It’s so simple that anyone can find the groove, and its looseness makes it possible to really imprint yourself on it.”
This is the third time Brian has organized a sock hop. Before coming to Shanghai, he threw a sock hop in Gainesville, Florida and in Ulanbaatar, Mongolia. 50s music may seem like a strange passion, but Brian fell in love with it after hearing Chuck Berry’s songs from his mother’s favorite radio station. “I always try to play these songs when I DJ, anyway. I think this music is the best. Music from the beginning of any genre, in this case rock ‘n’ roll, always sounds freshest to me. Plus, the performers tend to be real weirdos too, because only an idiot would make this music their life’s work when there is no established audience for it. It just has more soul.”
But his love of mixing volunteering and music didn’t end in the northern fields of Mongolia. In Shanghai, he joined BEAN and is now the leader of the elderly care program. “It’s important to become involved in the community you live in. That’s what I always try to do when I move to a new place.” The volunteers at the elder program provide company for the residents of the elder care center in Shanghai. “The facility where they live is bare but adequate, but they often lack people to interact with”, he says.
Brian keeps them company by painting and playing board games with them. “The people who live there are extraordinarily nice, and the most important thing is to simply get people to shoot the breeze with, even if there isn’t a common language between them; a smile is enough.”
The 20RMB entrance fee for the sock hop goes to provide essentials at an elderly care center. BEAN volunteers monthly at one of five elder care centers in Shanghai that has NGO status. The proceeds from the Sock Hop will go towards meeting their needs this winter. So come to Lune on the 19th of February and spend your night twisting away – it’s for a good cause.
**If you would like to volunteer to take tickets at the door for the Sock Hop, email [email protected] to sign up. Volunteers will be asked to arrive at 7:30 and stay until 11:30.**