Electric Circus returns to 'Much'

These two young gentlemen -- inspired by the courageous determination displayed by talk-show king...

These two young gentlemen -- inspired by the courageous determination displayed by talk-show king Jerry Springer recently on Dancing With The Stars -- are simply thrilled that Electric Circus is back for a special holiday show tonight at 9 p.m. on MuchMusic.

-- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:49 AM ET

Remember Electric Circus?

Yeah, you do.

For more than 15 years, it was MuchMusic's answer to American Bandstand and Soul Train. Every Friday night, the music station's Queen West headquarters would become a pulsating clubber's hot spot with scantily clad, glittered-up dancers, guest DJs and, for the first nine years, Monika Deol as host.

Part of the street would be shut down as the crowds swelled outside the EC studios. Joe Schmoes would dance outside the open windows in their winter jackets, hoping to be plucked from the cold and brought inside to join the ranks of the elite clubbers.

It would repeat Saturday mornings on CITY-TV. EC dancers became pseudo-celebs.

The EC crew even brought the show to Parliament Hill one year. If you missed it, trust us when we say 15,000 sparkly, platformed go-go dancers on our federal decision-makers' front lawn was a sight to behold.

Ok, get to the point, right?

Well, it's back.

MuchMusic is bringing the show back for a one-off holiday episode, airing tonight at 9 p.m.

The one-hour pre-taped special, held in the same studio, features all-new dancers, hosts (a variable mix of the current VJ roster) and updated music. Gone are the days of home-spun house beats or "surprise" appearances from Maestro Fresh Wes, Moby, Dee-Lite and the likes -- now we're treated to video offerings from Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Fergie.

But they had the good sense to keep the instantly recognizable original theme song, (which, interestingly enough, was created by "The WiZ," one of EC's original dancers).

New this time 'round is the reality TV-influenced auditions, judged by an "expert" panel that included VJ Leah Miller (the token softie), Much/EC producer Jason Ford (the signature prickly Simon Cowell-like presence), choreographer-to-the-stars Tracey Armstrong (the only real "expert" on the panel), Toronto Star writer Jen Gerson, Metro's Enza Supermodel (probably Toronto's most recognizable drag queen) and yours truly.

Yep, I somehow got wrangled into judging the EC auditions, held at MuchMusic this past November.

I was expecting a lot more of the Queen Street crazies to come out of the woodwork, but there were still a few doozies. Highlights of the best and worst auditions are spotted throughout the show (but we all know it's the worst that make it worthwhile).

VJ Leah Miller's much more forgiving when asked about the auditions.

"I couldn't believe how many great dancers there were -- it takes a lot of courage to audition, especially when you're given music you didn't know you were going to dance to," she says. "Some were better than others, but at least they tried."

Of course, she's right when she says some were better than others -- but it's the others that made the day. You can only imagine what happens when you put an open-call audition sign outside of MuchMusic (word to the wise if you ever decide to audition for any future dance shows: Please wear underwear, please control your facial expressions as you dance and please leave all suspicious-and-creepy-looking luggage at home).

Anyway, it's no surprise the nation's music station jumped on the current pop-culture, dance-craze bandwagon. The nagging question now is whether or not they'll bring Electric Circus back on a regular basis.

"This is television, so you can never say never," says Sheila Sullivan, director of programming for CHUM TV's music and youth channels. "We do want to see what kind of reaction we get. You never know what can make a comeback."

Here's hoping the EC revival doesn't make a comeback out of silver pants.

But where is our fave, Monika deol?

Electric Circus has had its fair share of hosts, but the one people tend to remember most is the host who first launched the series in 1988, former CITY-TV reporter and MuchMusic VJ, Monika Deol.

When asked why the producers didn't bring Deol back for the EC special, CHUM programming director Sheila Sullivan had this to say: "She's in Vancouver now, raising a family. Plus, we wanted it to be something fresh and new. It wasn't as much a retrospective as it was a new opportunity for young people to get out and dance."

We were really hoping to see Monika Deol, but she wasn't the only one who took a turn at the EC host gig. Here's a rundown of the show's past hosts:

- Monika Deol, with Michael Williams first, then George Lagogianes(1988-1996)

- Juliette Powell(1996-2000)

- Nadine Ramkisson(2000-2002)

- Rick Campanelli(2002)

- Bradford How(2002)

- Rainbow Sun Francks (2002-2003)

- Namugenyi Kiwanuka (2002-2003)

- Amanda Walsh (2002-2003)


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