Today, family and friends laid Albert Jean “Dancin’ Al” Crosthwait to rest at Chapel Hill-Butler Funeral Home in Kansas City, Kan. He may have been 88, but Dancin’ Al was forever young and beloved by many KC partygoers, including me. I met him about 10 years ago. In his memory, we’re re-running this column that captures his inspiring spirit.Time and Al Don’t Stop Dancing
Originally ran Aug. 13, 2004
I’ve been making way too big a deal about turning 25. This need to hold on to my youth came to a screeching halt in the middle of a crowded, red-lit dance floor at the Johnson County hot spot Raoul’s Velvet Room.
Raoul’s is dominated by mostly sexy men and women in their 20s and early 30s. There’s the social crowd at the long and lovely bar, which is stocked with plenty of drinks and all the garnishes. Then there’s the lounge where the various cliques can cool out on curvy, posh red couches or sit at the bar tables so they can get a view of the dance floor.
For the most part, the dress code is pretty much dress to impress. Lots of the ladies sport low-slung, hip-hugging pants or ruffled minis, and most are friendly. The fellas at Raoul’s are cool in button-down shirts, but the best part is they actually come to dance.
And Mix 93.3’s DJ Kirby keeps the bodies moving. He can mix anything: the funk of Cameo’s “Word Up” with the Caribbean sound of Nina Sky’s “Move Your Body”; Usher’s crunked up “Yeah” with Prince’s “Kiss.”
The dance floor stays packed, except for a few moments when Kirby goes techno crazy. Even then the floor is far from empty. There are dance-a-holics like fly girl Kate and Vaddi with the body. But among all the dance machines, there is one who stands out.
His skin is the color of a vanilla milkshake; and his smile is catching. He dances to every song, from techno mixes to hip-hop club jams, his clasped hands bouncing freely from left to right in a champion boxer’s stance. His shoulders shimmy to the front, then the back, and he even shakes his money-maker all the way down to the ground and pops back up. The ladies can’t get enough of him.
But that’s not what makes him unique; the women are drooling over the Boyfriend’s visiting brother, Boogaloo, too.
What sets Al apart is his age.
“I’m 78, but I feel like I am 28, “ he says, never missing a beat during our dance. He pulls me close and then breaks it down.
At the end of our dance, he thanks me. A few seconds later he comes over to my table and asks what my shirt says. “Hip hop don’t stop,” I say.
He flashes his charming smile, reaches for my hand and kisses it.
“It doesn’t,” Al assures me, and he dances away.
And it’s this wise, beautiful man who inspires me and encourages me to embrace my future.