NORFOLK, VA–The Norfolk Best Western was gripped by controversy late Saturday, when DJ Tim Doblewicz played the randy Clarence Carter hit "Strokin'" at the Schuller-Randolph wedding reception, upsetting a number of the event's more reserved guests.
"The energy on the dance floor was really high, and I wanted to keep it going with another fun one," said Doblewicz, a part-time employee of Norfolk-based Funtime Dee-Jays Unlimited. "I was considering doing 'Electric Slide' or maybe even 'Y.M.C.A.' one more time, but instead I decided to go with 'Strokin'.'"
"I honestly never expected it to cause any trouble," Doblewicz said of the moderately salacious 1986 song, in which Carter boasts of stroking it to the east, stroking it to the west, and, ultimately, stroking it to the woman that he loves the best.
Because an overwhelming majority of those on the dance floor responded to "Strokin'" with cheers, Doblewicz said he "had no idea" that the song had created a stir until several minutes later, when he was approached by the bride's father, Warren Randolph.
Randolph asked Doblewicz to "keep it clean from now on," informing him that the song had bothered some of the guests. Particularly disturbed, Randolph said, was 81-year-old grandmother of the bride Loretta Munns, who demanded that Doblewicz be "dismissed this very minute."
"I could not believe that someone would play that type of song at an event celebrating the sacred union of two people before the eyes of God," Munns said. "A wedding reception is not the place to be stroking it to the east, west, south, or any direction whatsoever."
Munns was not the only attendee upset by "Strokin'."
"I don't ordinarily dance, but Warren dragged me out to do the Chicken Dance," said Eileen Swearingen, 76, the bride's great aunt. "Well, that was fine, but after that song ended, a very dirty one came on. I couldn't make out all the words, but at one point, the man sang, 'When I start makin' love, I don't just make love–I be strokin'.' I tried to get off the dance floor and back to my table, but I could barely fight my way through the crowd. It was awful."
Badly shaken, Swearingen informed husband Warren and several others seated near her at table seven that she does not know if she will ever set foot on a dance floor again.
Richard Almond, a longtime friend of the groom's family, was dancing with his five-year-old daughter through most of "Strokin'." It was only upon hearing the line, "Have you ever made love in the back seat of a car?" that Almond realized Carter was saying "strokin'," not "smokin'." A red-faced Almond immediately left the floor, daughter in tow.
Immediately following the "Strokin'" debacle, Doblewicz attempted to win back offended guests with Buster Poindexter's "Hot, Hot, Hot." He managed to generate a conga line with the wholesome, crowd-pleasing 1987 hit, but the damage had been done.
"How could [Doblewicz] have possibly thought that awful 'Strokin'' song was appropriate for a wedding?" asked Almond, mid-conga. "He was deliberately pandering to the lowest common denominator at this party."
Despite the uproar, Doblewicz was not without his supporters. As "Strokin'" played, several key members of the wedding party, including best man Chad Wilens and brother of the groom Jordan Schuller, began lowering themselves to the floor, limbo-style. Bridesmaid Tina Elson then lifted up the bottom of her teal taffeta gown and, with Schuller leaning back on his knees, straddled his torso and danced for several seconds directly over him.
Few of the offended guests could have anticipated the provocative song from Doblewicz, who started out the evening with such popular romantic ballads as "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion and "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton. After the appetizer buffet was served, Doblewicz began to pick up the tempo with such participatory favorites as "Macarena," "Chicken Dance," and "Electric Slide"–a tactic wedding DJs call "filling the floor." Then, to keep guests dancing, Doblewicz transitioned into a string of uptempo, feel-good hits, including The B-52s' "Love Shack," Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music," and Kool & The Gang's "Celebration." It was during this stretch that Doblewicz made the fateful decision to play "Strokin'."
"The truth is, I thought the crowd could handle it," said Doblewicz, who veered sharply from his planned playlist following the "Strokin'" incident, shelving such potentially controversial fare as AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" and Billy Idol's "Mony Mony." "But they couldn't, so it was back to 'Boot Scootin' Boogie.' Oh, well."