Elaine Chamard was part of our “Ultimate Experience” tour group at Paisley Park in August 2019. Afterward, several of us went to see the fence and tunnel outside, decorated by Prince fans from around the world. As we walked there, Elaine told me the story of her first exposure to Prince while competing as a teenage disco dancer.
“I was born and raised in Boston. Sometime around 1977* when I was just a teenager, I was a disco dancer. I had a partner, and we used to go from club to club and enter contests — and win. We had costumes, we had routines, we were really good. We’d win a lot of money.
One night, we went to a club called Boston-Boston [which would later become House of Blues] on Lansdowne Street to practice. But when we went in, we couldn’t practice because there was a band playing. There were very few people there, so we walked right up to the stage.
There was a guy onstage wearing teeny-tiny bikini underwear and dancing around, and another guy who had a medical mask on, playing the keyboard. They were really good, and my partner and I loved them.
We went to the bar and asked, ‘Hey, who is that?’ And the bartender said, ‘That’s a new guy. His name is Prince. He’s got an album out called Dirty Mind.’
We stayed, we danced, and then we left. When I got home, I looked the guy up to find out more — whatever I could. I bought the album, and I’ve been a huge Prince fan ever since.”
[* Note: There seems to be a time discrepancy in the story, which I’m leaving unresolved because — well, that’s just how stories work: Even if the facts are fuzzy, the memories remain sharp.]