Chubby Checker had few new twists in his show at Desperado's last night, but he sure had some old ones, starting off with "The Twist," "Let's Twist Again," "The Hucklebuck" and "The Fly." In the very early '60s, Checker helped loosen up the dance floor with the free, personal style of "The Twist," which was a great Dancersize when Carol Hensel was still a toddler. For the older fans last night, twistin' was like riding a bicycle -- it came back easy after a few turns.
Later songs that tried to repeat "The Twist's" appeal turned out to be awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing. "The Fly" involved shaking your hands as if you were trying to rid them of either flypaper or a subpoena. These songs were silly and innocent and they didn't sell; as a result Checker has spent the last 20 years celebrating his past, occasionally updating it with contemporary pop and country favorites.
At Desperado's, a surprisingly slim Checker proved nimble on his feet with the old dance steps; he floated like a butterfly and sang like a bee, exhorting the crowd to "put some movement back in your sacroiliac." He borrowed liberally from such contemporaries as Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, whose "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" was enlivened by five uninhibited dancers who heeded Checker's call; "Don't be afraid, it's only rock 'n' roll."