And when the sweat began to shine and drip down from everybody’s faces, the disc jockey switched to the obligatory slower, gentler tempo. Disappearing blazing strobes giving way to the subdued slowly twirling mirror-ball up above, spinning to the favorites of those days.  Probably Daliah Lavi’s Wäre ich ein buch,  the German version of Gordon Lightfoot’s If you could read my mind love, Roy Etzel’s instrumental Tränen lügen nicht, (tears don’t lie) or the ultimate snuggle song, Je t’aime performed by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, with Serge whispering sweet nothings and Jane responding with her orgasmic grunts, moans and the heavy breathing with such an urgency – the song that inspired Donna to come up with the idea for Love to love you baby. Who would have thought that in less than two years, Donna’s own sixteen minutes and fifty seconds extended orgasm would usurp and take many times over the very song she was dancing to?  

Up close and with our arms wrapped around each other, as we danced, Donna’s tall and lanky frame towered over me. A whole head shorter than her, my face resting on her chest, listening to her heartbeat and taking in her perfume is the image of Donna that has remained with me after all these decades.

About a year later, some of us are invited to Donna’s concert at a small Munich auditorium to see “our Donna” perform at a venue bigger than the small cramped local dives. As we waited eagerly  for the curtains to rise, and when the lights  dimmed and the pin-drop silence fell, and the whole auditorium went pitch black,  without even a sliver of light coming through – all we could hear is the curtains slowly sliding open and the click of them stopping in their tracks. Still nothing happens. Must have been just a few seconds, but it feels like an eternity while we wait with breathless anticipation. And then we hear something that sounds like a sob, a moan and a swish of sweet pain pierces the air, followed by a long drawn out Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, as if emerging from a deep and narrow cave, sobs and moans and grunts echoing and escaping in the atmosphere. And it continues:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I,

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Love To Love You Baby….

Reverberating over and over again and again through the stillness of the invisible auditorium. And then the halo of soft light outlines the figure that lies on the stage and soon we see it begin to stir and love to love you baby continues to echo and it rushes towards us like tidal waves. We see the figure turning slightly and seductively, uncoiling like a sleeping beauty waking up after a hundred years, rising languidly like a flicker of a dormant flame leaping up from a heap of ashes. And then suddenly she is up and standing with the music gaining tempo, microphone in her hands and we all gasp! At that very moment the a sublime transformation has taken place. The star is born in the front of our very bewildered eyes.

Here my memories are a bit fuzzy. I am sure we got to see her backstage, but then she was probably whisked away by her producers. I may have even seen her  once or twice during the next couple of months, before I drove away in my Buick from Munich to meet the QE II in Cherbourg, France and sail away to New York. Driving cross-country, when I arrived in Chicago a month later and when one evening went browsing at the Ross Records on State and Rush, I stood face-to-face with Donna. Not her flesh and blood self, but bigger than the life size cutout of her staring down at me.  Piled at her feet was a huge stack of LPs, with an image of Donna, wearing a sleeveless semi-transparent dress, her face turned slightly upward, her lips painted deep maroon and her eyes closed. It was November 15, 1975.

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