During the pandemic shutdown, Palm Springs real estate agent James Valletti and a dozen friends from out of town were looking to get into some fun. But what’s a gaggle of guys to do when all they want to do is dance — and the bars and clubs are closed?
The consensus: Silent-disco headsets and a dance parade down the promenade. “I thought, what could be more fun than this,” recalls Valletti, who borrowed clothes and a purple wig from a wagon full of props his pals carted along. Starting at Frances Stevens Park in Palm Springs, they slowly did The Hustle to Arenas Road, picking up onlookers and alfresco diners along the way. “They were mesmerized by this spectacle of oddly dressed, singing and dancing fools, and they all wanted to join,” Valletti says. “I walked home that night on such a high, and I didn’t even have anything to drink.”
Convinced it would appeal to the masses, he decided to spin it into a business. MOGO (short for “Music on the Go”) Silent Disco launched in January 2022, offering weekend tours October through May that continue to gain momentum. We caught up with Valletti to hear more about this quirky parade.
So, what is “strancing”?
Strolling and dancing. That’s what we do.
What’s playing on the headsets?
When you buy a ticket, we ask for your favorite dance song. Then we create a playlist with everyone’s selection, plus a few of our own, and shuffle it during the tour. Everyone is listening to the same songs because that’s integral to the experience. Whitney Houston and ABBA are always on the tour.
Oh, yes. I love disco. My parents met at that “Saturday Night Fever” club [2001 Odyssey Disco in Brooklyn, New York]. It’s in my blood.
What inspires your dance moves?
Working in theater in New York for many years, I was always around dancers and choreography and colorful people. I think I just picked up a few moves by watching them. I think that’s why MOGO is so fun for me — it’s like street theater.
How do you find enough costumes to do this every weekend?
When I started the tour, [the clothing boutique] Seaplane loved it so much, they asked to sponsor my outfit. So, I always wear the same loud pink ensemble. And I have a fun cart with a disco ball.
Wildest outfit you’ve seen?
DJ Galaxy from KGAY [Radio] came dressed as a disco ball — everything from his shoes to his makeup looked like a mirror ball. But Palm Springs has no dearth of creative people. … Every time someone walks in with an outfit they’ve curated, I want to cry. Their effort and energy are reciprocated.
Do you point out any landmarks on the “tour”?
The Sonny Bono statue. But that’s all the history you’re going to get.
What excites you about Modernism Week?
Half the fun of these tours is seeing people’s reactions … and random strangers who want to come and dance with you. During Mod Week, the streets are a lot more crowded.
Have you ever had a group do a choreographed dance?
The first night we did this, five guys had a routine planned. Aside from that, the closest we’ve come is doing the “Time Warp” and the “Y.M.C.A.” and “Cotton Eye Joe” and the “Hokey Pokey.”
Favorite part of the job?
I love when I see husbands who are miserable and grumpy and don’t want to be there because their wives have put them in some stupid outfit … and then about two songs in, they start really getting into it. One guy tapped me on the shoulder about four songs in and asked me to bring it to his city and franchise it. He’d done a complete 180. It’s not just a business — it’s true happiness.
- READ NEXT: What to see at Modernism Week 2023.