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Garrett Wheeler decides to give dance a chance

By Garrett Wheeler

Movers and Shakers
It's 2008 and guess what's at the top of my list of New Year's resolutions? No, not quit smoking (actually, I never started in the first place), and thankfully, I don't have to worry about eating too much chocolate (just don't have a sweet tooth, I guess). But how's this for a decree of excellence: dance more.

That's right, get up and move, shake that booty, cut some rug, if you know what I'm talking 'bout. Think of the positives: it's great cardio, it's fun and the next wedding and/or bar mitzvah I hit up, look out—I'll be grooving harder than Rick James out of rehab. There seem to be several ways to go about fulfilling my New Year's proclamation. Most obviously, I could bolster my dance music CD collection and work on my moves a few times a week from the comfort and privacy of my home. But this seems a little too prudent; after all, how's that going to be any different than my usual shower singing routine? Dance classes are a viable option, and one that my girlfriend will surely go for, but the whole instructional thing sounds a little rigid, if not intimidating. What I really want to do is get out on the town, find some good local bands and let the energy of live music carry me into the multicolored light of dance-floor ecstasy. Plus, I've already found one band that fits the bill perfectly.

Log on to their website, and you'll see why there's no better group to aid my cause than Santa Cruz funk-rock outfit Extra Large. The band's motto is "We dare you not to dance," and one encounter with the high-energy sextet will convince you not to push them. If you aren't doing the shoulder-shake within three seconds of listening to these guys, you'd better check your pulse because there's a good chance you don't have one.

Their gig last Saturday night at Don Quixote's was a blast, with the baby-boom crowd sweating out more calories than they do stretching and squatting through their weekly yoga intensives. And in all honesty, it looked like they were having more fun not worrying about pulling a hamstring. Extra Large's magnetic stage show was highlighted by instrumental expertise and a song list so unbelievably danceable you'd think George Clinton had a hand in writing it. Covers of everything from Prince to the Red Hot Chili Peppers were splendidly re-enacted, while the band's catalog of original material was proof of the collective's abundant creative talents. Literally every single body in the place (and there were more than a few) moved to the beat, hypnotized by the pulsating fusion of funk, rock, reggae and blues.

It's true, I'm on my way to executing what I call the "give dance a chance" resolution, and maybe you should too. If you're interested in raising your personal well-being to astounding new heights, take a few hours a week to check out great local bands like Extra Large. Oh, and one more word of advice: Don't forget to stretch before you hit the hardwood, Travolta—you wouldn't want to miss yoga this week.

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