The article “Groovin’ with the Mix” is the “inside story of the Red Hot + Dance from the man who started it all.” Written by John Carlin, the co-creator of the Red Hot + Dance AIDs benefit efforts and published by the newspaper The Gazette in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on August 2, 1992.
It’s impossible to avoid the pop onslaught of George Michael’s single and video Too Funky, which is riding high in the charts these days. Too Funky kicks off the promotional push for Red Hot + Dance, the followup AIDS benefit to Red Hot Blue.
On that album and video program, the cream of contemporary pop music (U2, Sinead O’Connor, David Byrne, The Neville Brothers, Annie Lennox, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Neneh Cherry, k.d. lang, and others) and film (Jim Jarmusch, Jonathan Demme, Wim Wenders, Jean Baptiste Mondino, etc.) were asked to reinterpret Cole Porter’s ’30s sense of romance with intelligence for the safe-sex ’90s.
The project, which infuriated purists of Porter’s music, became standard upscale restaurant background music and, most important, raised more than $4 million for AIDS organizations around the world. Red Hot + Blue appealed to a much older audience, but these are not the people who most need to be educated about safe sex. The original concept was to use pop culture to reach sexually active teenagers, who are most in need of safe-sex education.
Red Hot + Dance began last year as a series of live club events around the globe to commemorate World AIDS Day – Dec. I, 1991. London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Los Angeles, Toronto, Dublin, Dallas and Tokyo were linked together by frenzied, pulsating bodies grooving to the freshest beats around. We wanted to prove not only that dance music was the international language of youth culture, but that people cared about stopping AIDS.
Although this global groove brought people together in the fight to stop AIDS, we felt that live events alone in the age of mass communication were not enough. We wanted to keep the raw power of performance but preserve and disseminate it using state-of-the-art recording techniques in both sound and image.
So we filmed as many of the live events as we could afford and packaged the show. In each city, directors filmed live performers (including EMF, Seal, PM Dawn, Lisa Stansfield, Jimmy Somerville, The Young Disciples, Monie Love, Dream Warriors), which formed the backbone of the show and enabled it to be financed.
As was the case with Red Hot + Blue, we put together ” an album tied into the Red Hot + Dance theme. We wanted to re-create the excitement of a club, and the only way to do it was in the mix. We invited some of the best remixers and producers available to take some of today’s biggest hits and funk them up. This album became a showcase for one of the most influential and distinctive aspects of contemporary music — the remix. Red Hot + Dance is the first major-label release devoted to the art of the mix and the unexpected pleasures of hearing familiar songs transformed.
Attention was also given to the people who came to the show and who support the cause — their voices and concerns were recorded in interviews. (The show will air on MuchMusic this Saturday at 12:30 p.m.)
As a company devoted to raising money and consciousness to fight AIDS through the vehicle of popular culture. Red Hot + Blue should not merely entertain.
It must, along with many other like-minded projects, create a ripple effect that burrows into people’s minds to make them protect themselves and their loved ones but also resist the prejudices that have made AIDS worse than it should be.
It is one of the pleasant ironies of the past decades that rock stars have emerged as the moral voice of our generation. After decades of pushing the envelope of tolerance with respect to drugs, sex, and the capacity of their audiences for self abuse (not that it wasn’t fun most of the time), rock stars are doing what our elected leaders and those who control the flow of money have not.
Take George Michael, a late addition to the Red Hot + Dance project. We needed a superstar to spearhead the album and generate the proper heat to sell enough records to exceed the millions we raised last time around. Instead of using three catchy, new dance tunes on his next album, Michael donated them to Red Hot + Dance, and with his manager, helped orchestrate a bigger deal with Sony Music, which is distributing the album.
Michael’s long term commitment to this cause, the tens of millions of dollars raised as a result of his efforts and the fans reached by his involvement make him one of the real saints in the fight against AIDS.
It’s clear that no one is going to buy an album just because of the cause, but the overwhelming success of Red Hot + Blue illustrated that more money could ultimately be raised, and more people could be reached through music than through the schools or other educational programs.
Listen to Red Hot + Dance. Who knows? You might become more politically active, and together we can make some real changes.
John Carlin in is a co-creator of the Red Hot + Blue and Red Hot + Dance AIDS benefit packages.
Here’s the album rundown:
- GEORGE MICHAEL – Too Funky, Do You Really Want to Know, Happy
- MADONNA – Supernatural (Original Arms House Mix)
- SEAL – Crazy (If I Was Trev Mix)
- PM DAWN – Set Adrift on Memory Bliss (Richie Rich Mix)
- LISA STANSFIELD – Change (Metamorphosis Mix)
- YOUNG DISCIPLES -Apparently Nothin’ (The Re-Rub)
- SABRINA JOHNSTON – Peace (Nu- Mix)
- SLY & THE FAMILY STONE – Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin) (Todds CD Mix)
- CRYSTAL WATERS – Gypsy Woman (Joey Negro’s Mindmix)
- EMF – Unbelievable (The Hovering Feet Mix)
- TOMANDANDY – Theme from Red Hot Dance (Gothic Mix)
- ‘Too Funky:’ Story of A George Michael Charity Record
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- Stand By Me: AIDS Day Benefit Live at Wembley (1987)
- George Michael: The Lone Star State Interview on Q Magazine (June 1988)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)