k.d. lang’s album ‘makeover’, released on May 28, 2021, includes 14 dance remixes from 1992 to 2000. k.d. revisited her beloved tracks and musicians gave them a pumped-up ‘makeover’ just in time for Pride month and the American summer. It’s a beacon of light for lesbian club-goers during the pandemic. It’s something to hold on to and imagine enjoying on the post-pandemic dance floor.
You could be forgiven for thinking you’re a character on the original L Word – dancing and romancing at The Planet – while listening to the remixes of k.d.’s classics. ‘makeover’ is drenched in 90s club culture. “If I Were You (Close to the Groove Edit)” couldn’t be any more L Word, really.
Club culture, which took off in the 70s, but is epitomized by the 90s, is an uncanny concept to think about during COVID-19. The blending of sweat, the close-dancing, the pashing strangers – how estranged from touch are we? We must keep our nostalgic excitment in check, mind you, because lesbian bars are almost extinct.
The Lesbian Bar Project is, to lesbian bars, what WWF is to polar bears. “We aim to celebrate, support, and preserve the remaining Lesbian Bars that exist in the United States. We hope to ensure the Bars not only survive but thrive in a post-pandemic landscape,” the website states. Honorable mission.
However, I’m far from sold on what’s defined as lesbian today: “the label Lesbian belongs to all people who feel that it empowers them.” I guess if we change the meaning of the word “lesbian” to anyone who “feels empowered” by a real sexual orientation that is systematically disempowered, then any bar can be a Lesbian Bar, right? I guess we could save polar bears from going extinct by dressing a brown bear up in a white onesie.
Despite this disconcerting hiccup to a just cause, k.d. lang’s album ‘Makeover’ will hopefully introduce a new generation of lesbians to the golden era of lesbian club music on the post-pandemic dance floor, thanks to the Lesbian Bar Project.
On the 3rd of June, the project launched a 20 minute documentary film that details the “bar owners, community activists, archivists, and patrons” and their “struggles during the pandemic, their hopes for the future, and why we must work to save these sacred spaces.”
Hanging Up the Dancing Shoes?
k.d. has also kindly kept those of us ready to hang up the dancing shoes, cuddle on the couch with a wife, and complain that words have respectable meanings, in mind. Once a frequent flyer of the exact lesbian bars and clubs the upbeat remixes in ‘makeover’ are made for – the places the Lesbian Bar Project aims to protect – I now hear myself repeating Hannah Gadsby’s sentiments during “Nanette”: “Where are the quiet gays supposed to go?”
Quiet Gay is the new aspiration I’ve developed over the last couple of years and I was kindly gifted a St. Tropez mix of Miss Chatelaine to sit at home to. She gave ex-club lesbians our rights! Paging Hannah Gadsby: here’s one for newly-wed romantic dinners.
k.d. has considered hanging up her own boots recently, announcing she “may be finished” with songwriting, according to the ABC. Maybe lesbians are just on the same page as Hannah Gadsby who, in “Nanette,” confessed she “identifies as tired.”
Perhaps that should be the new definition of lesbian, considering the world is hellbent on redefinition. Instead of anyone who feels “empowered” by identifying as the disempowered sexual orientation, a more appropriate symptom could be “tiredness.” Consider it an addition to the comphet masterdoc.
Yep, k.d. lang is a little tired after the 40 years she’s been making genreless music, ensuring lesbians – from country to club – get a little buzz. “I think I’m definitely in a years-long lull, if it isn’t the end,” she said, “I really feel no pull or inspiration or need to come up with new music.”
It’s been a decade since k.d. has produced a studio album and was interested in how others interpreted her songs on ‘makeover’. “It’s so interesting to hear someone take and deconstruct and completely rearrange your music,” she said.
While she admits the “remix thing” is a bit of a mystery to her, she acknowledges she has “a very adhesive relationship with the dance culture.” While she emerged as a country musician, she was “in the discos dancing with plastic bags wrapped around [her] as a sort of performance art piece in the gay clubs, and then going to work on [her] days on, dressed as a country singer, singing country music.”
The female Elvis, according to Madonna, might permanently leave the building. “It feels like I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to the business and to the craft of songwriting and performing…promotion, touring, clothing, being away from my family…the need to feel important in the music world – it’s all of it,” k.d. explained.
While many of us identify as “tired” now, hopefully k.d.’s ‘makeover’ inspires a new generation of lesbian club-goers to jumpstart the scene with these much-loved, nostalgic tracks.