Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mary Woronov on Dancing at The Dom - The Velvet Underground

"Gerard Malanga and I started dancing for The Velvet Underground at The Dom in New York in 1966. It was very new for a rock and roll band to have a show, much less a Warhol movie playing behind it. In art, however, it was the time of happenings and guerrilla theatre. When we performed in Philadelphia with Robert Rauschenberg, he roller-skated around a room, in and out of a movie screen.

"In The Dom we were on a stage in front of the Velvets, so the audience had to watch us. The band was also dressed in black. Everyone looked the same. You could tell the Warhol people; they all dressed in black, wore huge black sunglasses. They were called the 'mole people' because they came out with these big glasses only at night. We all had the same boots, except for Nico, who dressed in white. She was interested only in singing, not in performing. The band never danced. They only stood and played; they looked at each other or turned their backs to the audience. Sometimes they would stumble because they were really high, and sometimes they would just walk away and leave their instruments on. It was part of the mystique of it. Everyone was high, though Gerard and I weren't as high as the Velvets.

It was the time of hippies and communes. The Dom became an organic thing. It had a certain mystique. People moved rather than watched. There were films going on all over the walls, and there was this light show. It was a new kind of dancing – about being so high that people thought: I don't even need a partner, I'm just gonna twirl until I drop. The audience became a part of the music by dancing. There wasn't anything like that before – all you could do was go to a cocktail bar that had a little piece of floor for the mambo or the twist.

"Warhol loved The Dom. He would stand up on the balcony and watch people, but he never danced. But even if you didn't dance, you felt like you were, as the whole place was vibrating.

People on the West Coast hated The Velvet Underground. They thought we were odd, weird, dark and evil. There was a big dichotomy: they took acid and were going towards enlightenment; we took amphetamines and were going towards death. They wore colours, we wore black; they were barefoot, we wore boots. All they ever said was 'wow' and we talked too much. It was the old NY is smart and LA is stupid routine. The Dom's dark communion went on for months in one form or another until Warhol and Lou Reed split. I got a job at Lincoln Centre to do 'real' theatre, a pale comparison with Vaccaro's. Then I moved to Los Angeles to be in the movies."