Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Soul Train diary one

As I said, more Soul Train stuff is coming and now I am going give a diary of one former Soul Train dancer. Her name is Yolanda Toussaint. Here is all her own words here.

Yolanda Toussaint

Interview with Soul Train (September 2011) What were your aspirations when you were growing up in Los Angeles?

PS, more Soul Train stuff to come up soon.
Yolanda Seay: To be a teacher. Dancing was just a hobby. How did you become a Soul Train dancer?
Yolanda Seay: I was at a club called Mavericks Flat and Pam Brown, Soul Train’s dance coordinator, saw me and invited me to go on the show. At the time I didn’t have a partner so I didn’t go. But a few months later, I met Little Joe Chism (another popular Soul Train regular) at Mavericks Flat and we became friends. He was already dancing on Soul Train so he invited me to come to the show and we became dance partners. What were your impressions when you first went on Soul Train?
Yolanda Seay: It was a lot of fun! I was literally in awe of all the lights, the cameras, and all the action. Did dancing on Soul Train make you want to change your mind to have a career in dance?
Yolanda Seay: (Laughs) No. Dancing was just strictly a hobby. Did you ever do the Scramble Board?
Yolanda Seay: Yes. Little Joe and I did the Scramble Board and we won a year’s supply of Ultra Sheen and Afro Sheen products. What do you remember most about Don Cornelius?
Yolanda Seay: I was very proud of him. I didn’t know that he owned the show until some time later. We didn’t really have a lot of black people who were entrepreneurs at that time so I was very impressed by that. You and Little Joe were contestants in a Soul Train dance contest, which was judged by Don Cornelius and James Brown. What was that experience like?
Yolanda Seay: I was very nervous (laughs). But we just did our routine and had a good time. Did you and Little Joe practice routines for the Soul Train line? Your routines were really together.
Yolanda Seay: No, we didn’t rehearse. We basically just free-styled down the line. We showcased the latest dances and the latest fashions. When I danced on Soul Train, I remember some funny, “unplanned” mishaps on the Soul Train line–which caused retakes. Do you remember any?

Yolanda Seay: Yes. This guy was dancing down the line, just getting down, and all of a sudden his Afro wig came off and fell to the floor. (Laughs) Me and the other dancers laughed about that all weekend. Did you have your share of fried chicken that was served to the dancers during tapings? (Laughs)
Yolanda Seay: (Laughs). Yes! We looked forward to the fried chicken that KFC sent over. We usually took breaks in the middle of the tapings and ate since we wouldn’t get out of the studio until around 11:30PM. You wore a lot of terrific outfits on the show. Where did you buy your outfits?
Yolanda Seay: From Hollywood of course! You’ve seen a lot of famous stars perform up close on Soul Train. What stars stand out from your memories?
Yolanda Seay: The Jackson 5, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Al Green, Chaka Khan, and the Supremes, which was Little Joe’s favorite group. He was truly in love with them. Aretha Franklin was incredible! She sang her numbers live and her soulful voice echoed through the soundstage. Her raw talent left quite an impression on me. Were you able to interact with and meet any of these celebrities personally?
Yolanda Seay: Yes. For example, when the Jackson 5 were on the show, Damita Jo Freeman (popular Soul Train regular) and Little Joe came up to me and said that we were going downstairs to meet them. I was so afraid we were going to get caught. But we met them all in their dressing room and took photos with them before they went upstairs to perform. Do you have one very special “OMG” moment from Soul Train?

Yolanda Seay: Yes, when Marvin Gaye came to the show. He was singing “Let’s Get It On” and all of us dancers surrounded him on the floor. He was pulling different girls out of the crowd to sing to him when all of a sudden he pulled me out of the crowd and sang to me and afterwards I gave him a little kiss on the cheek. You didn’t wash your lips for a month, right?
Yolanda Seay: (Laughs) Do you have any embarrassing moments from Soul Train?
Yolanda Seay: Sort of. When Tina Turner was on the show, I asked her a question during the Soul Train Gang question and answer session.  She was staring directly at me and I got nervous and a bit tongue-tied. (Laughs) Did you ever get recognized in public as a result of dancing on Soul Train?
Yolanda Seay: Little Joe and I were recognized by people we didn’t even know. We became instant stars. One time, we were in Hollywood, and all of these fans ran up to us and wanted our autographs. Any other special memories from Soul Train?
Yolanda Seay: The Soul Train Christmas parties held every year were always so nice. We got to rub elbows with a lot of the entertainers that attended the parties. Was it difficult to leave Soul Train after five years of being on the show?
Yolanda Seay: I kind of felt I was outgrowing it so I moved to northern California. I was working with the IRS at the time and so I was able to transfer to the IRS office in that location. But even after I stopped dancing on the show, I was still recognized. One time, after moving to northern California, I got off the train and a woman looked at me and said, “Don’t you dance on Soul Train?” (Laughs)  I was so blessed to have been on Soul Train. What have you been doing in the years since leaving Soul Train?
Yolanda Seay: I got married and I have two sons and a daughter. I also make jewelry as a hobby. In 1997, Little Joe helped put together the very first Soul Train Gang reunion. I had the pleasure of meeting you and the other dancers present. What was that experience like?
Yolanda Seay: It was so wonderful and long overdue. I hadn’t seen a lot of the dancers in years. I just wish it was sooner and more of the dancers could have attended. But it was very well organized. Sadly, we lost Little Joe a year later. What would you like to say in memory of Little Joe Chism?
Yolanda Seay: His death was very devastating. We always managed to keep in touch throughout the years. He helped me get on Soul Train. He was very sociable and likeable and always had something nice to say. Plus he always gave you “the T!” (the truth).  If he were alive, he would have a million friends on Facebook. Do you have a special message you want to share with the audience?
Yolanda Seay: I like to live by the golden rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated. Live the life you want to live and make the most of it. For instance, after Michael Jackson died, a friend of mine and I made a vow that we were going to go to all the concerts by the artists we want to see perform. So live life to the fullest and above all, keep God first!

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