Will You Dance With Me?
DIRECTOR: DEREK JARMAN
Derek Jarman’s Will You Dance with Me?, receiving its world theatrical premiere run at Metrograph, is an essential document of LGBTQ London that was unseen until 2014, 30 years after it was originally shot. In September 1984, Jarman was invited by director Ron Peck and writer Mark Ayres to record improvisations at Benjy’s, a gay club in East London’s Mile End district, as part of the early experimental work for their feature film Empire State, a neo-noir that would be released in 1987. The coed, racially diverse crowd of roughly 100 people at Benjiy’s that night included club regulars, bar staff, and potential players in Empire State. Every single detail captured in Jarman’s on-location assignment abounds with era-specific riches: from the New Romantic cutie journaling while nestled in a corner booth to the DJ’s cheerful exhortations and the songs he spins (“Let the Music Play,” “Planet Rock,” “Relax”). As Jarman flits from bar to banquette to dance floor and back again with his Olympus VHS camcorder, it soon becomes clear that he’s deeply in tune with the rhythm of the night.