||Diverse Arts Collective
||March 30, 2011
Shelia King, a fun-loving grandma’s girl, needs to keep her days open for auditions in the hope of landing a role that will catapult her to stardom. With the threat of eviction looming, she scrambles to find a night job and convinces the owner of a hostess club to hire her. Now she’s a dance-partner-for-hire by night and struggling thespian by day. When her agent pitches a topless role, fearing her grandmother’s disapproval, Shelia declines. But after setbacks and considerable thought, she agrees to meet the producer.
Gregory Livingston III is rich, suave, ridiculously fine, and the panacea for Shelia’s career woes. At first sight she shapes plans to win the role and his heart. She gets both and works hard to give an Oscar worthy performance. However, when the movie wraps, nothing can prepare her for the startling revelations about Greg’s past and the aftermath of a dream gone awry.
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I imagine I’m an actress in a low budget 1950’s mafia movie, and this is the scene where the mob boss is giving me the once-over, trying to decide if I can be trusted. Tina Turner’s Private Dancer blasting from the jukebox pulls me out of my melodramatic fantasy.
It’s 1985 and I’m standing in the lobby of the Flamingo Club, and the manager is eyeballing me from the top of my wig to my red Payless pumps, trying to decide if I have what it takes to keep the customers on the dance floor. I pray he likes what he sees, because I need this job. My best friend Edwina turned me on to the joint. At first I thought it was a topless bar, so my answer was a resounding, “No.” I don’t have the nerves, or the right cup size. When I learned it’s a club where men buy tickets to dance with girls, I was a little more interested. Back in the twenties and thirties it was called taxi-dancing. “Girl, the only other thing you have to do is sit and talk with ‘em and act like you give a flyin’ rat’s patoot,” she said.
Heinz moves in closer, looks down at me and says, “Turn around.” I can feel his eyes undressing and redressing me into something a bit more risqué. He looks down at my application and says, “I’m a be honest with you, Shelia. College girls don’t do good here. They get bored quick.”
“I dropped out after two years, and I’m not here to be entertained. I just wanna work.”
“You got any kids?” As if on cue, his eyes lock on my midsection.
I suck in my gut even more. “I don’t have any kids, at least none that I know of.” I search Heinz’s face hoping it’ll break into a smile. A chuckle would even do. He seems as serious as my landlady when she told me I would be evicted if I didn’t come up with this month’s rent.
“I’m sure you’re a nice girl and all, but I can’t hire ya right now. We got too many girls.” He throws his hulk-size hands into the air and walks back to the counter dragging his boat-sized feet.
I look down at his feet and concentrate hard, hoping I can will them back in my direction. “Heinz, I can do this job. Please give me a chance.” I walk to Heinz with my aching feet and press my flat chest against the counter, anchoring myself to the place.
“Black girls don’t do so good here.” He clears his throat and averts his eyes.
“But Edwina told me she made a lot of money when she worked here.”
“She told you wrong.” He tosses my application to the side, snatches a dingy handkerchief from his shirt pocket, and wipes his brow.
I feel a kick in my stomach at the sight of my application teetering on the edge of the counter. “Let me work one night, and if I don’t get any dances, I’ll leave with no pay.”
He removes his glasses and grins. I stare at the black space between his two front teeth, praying his crooked grin means a yes. “Can you work tonight?”
“Of course I can work tonight. Does that mean you’re gonna give me a chance?”
“No, I’m not gonna give you a chance.”
My lips part and I begin to protest, but before I can, he says, “Geez, Shelia. Would I be askin’ ya if you could work tonight if I wasn’t gonna give you a chance?”
“Don’t thank me yet. Let’s see how ya do tonight.”
Divas Read 2 Book Club
Ok, this is what I am talking about, a book that grabs your attention from the very beginning. I had so many ideas in my head as to how this book was going to end, it's unbelievable. Dancing Her Dreams Away was filled with romance, drama, supsense, mystery that will keep you glued to the pages. I must say Shelia King's fairy tale career that happened in a matter of seconds, was way too good to be true. Ms. Thomas has done a wonderful job in developing the characters. This one is a must read!!
Diva Reviewer - Lolita Allen
Divas Read 2 Book Club
blown away by Alretha Thomas' "Dancing Her Dreams Away,
With so many books constantly hitting the market, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The story centered on a young aspiring actress named Shelia King is so well thought out and executed, you forget you're reading a book. The author has created a world of intrigue, suspense, and twists and turns that will keep you turning the page with your mouth wide open. The characters are so well developed they jump off of the page and sometimes make you mad, laugh, scream, and act a fool as you get caught up in Shelia's journey to become a star. I loved how the author trusted my intelligence and didn't beat me over the head with the obvious. On the face of it, Shelia appears to be very naive, but Alretha's subtle hints of Shelia's dysfunctional childhood and longing for her mother who basically abandoned her as a child, speak to Shelia's low self-worth, and her choosing to turn a blind eye to red flags and warnings that come her way. It's no wonder that 22-year-old Shelia, who has grown up poor with her unworldly grandmother, is swept off of her feet by the rich and handsome producer Gregory, it's no wonder she lets her guard down and falls head over hills in spite of Gregory's slick ways, and even Shelia admits that she looked the other way so she could seize her prize. While reading this book, I was reminded about my twenties, when I thought I knew it all. Boy is hindsight twenty-twenty. Shelia King, like all of us, wants to be happy. Unfortunately, like many of us, she's seeking happiness on the outside of herself and Alretha brilliantly weaves a tale that shows how looking for love in all the wrong places can be deadly.
A Quick Read With A Powerful Message
A wonderful rags-to-riches-and-back story, with a lovable protagonist who ultimately discovers that her truest wealth lies within. Although a quick, page-turner, Dancing Her Dreams Away is so much more than that. It has funny, likeable characters, but also shocking plot twists and turns. I'll admit, there were times I wanted to shake Sheila--and even forsake her--because of some of the poor choices she makes. But that just proves that she and her unstoppable dream got under my skin. In the end, I came away with a deeper understanding of the viscious cycle of addiction-induced despair, along with heartfelt appreciation for Sheila's hard-won redemption.
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