After the DC Cowboys retired in 2012, the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History requested costumes and other memorabilia from the group for its archived collection. At the time, the leader Kevin Platte of the homespun dancing troupe had hardly ruled out the notion of the Cowboys ever performing again. “I thought there might be a possibility,” he says. “You always hope that something will pop up.” Yet Platte also hardly planned for it. He retired most of his gear in 2013, giving it away as part of the group’s donation to the Smithsonian.
“I didn’t want to go there and ask to check out some of my stuff,” says Platte, joking about his need for Cowboys costuming for the first time since making the donation. So instead, Platte will be sporting new boots and hat when the troupe reunites this month as part of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s Spring concert.
The Cowboys will perform a few favorite routines plus some new ones choreographed by Craig Cipollini, a longtime member of the Cowboys who also serves as GMCW’s director of marketing. Thea Kano, artistic director of the chorus, credits Cipollini for helping orchestrate the Cowboys reunion as part of the country and western-themed show, Boots, Class & Sass. The Cowboys will put the boots and much of the sass into the show, including a dance-off number with a group of dancing chorus members.
Platte corralled a total of eight Cowboys to return — that’s a third of the troupe’s size at its peak and two-thirds the number of members present when the group retired. “The stage is rather small at the Lincoln Theatre,” Platte says, “so I think eight is the perfect size.” He also calls reuniting with the chorus the “perfect opportunity,” since the two groups have performed together several times over the years, and there’s long been an overlap in membership. “That’s just the way it’s been in the arts — sometimes they sing and dance,” says Platte.
“Boots, Class and Sass is one of my favorite shows we’ve done so far,” says Kano, noting the show’s range. There’s the expected revelry, with covers of hits by everyone from Patsy Cline to Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash to Steve Grand. But there’s also a serious side to the program. Kano is especially enamored by the uplifting themes in much of classic country. “I think it’s going to be a really moving show,” she says. “I think people will be surprised by that.”
Platte is pleased with how the reunion is forming, noting that getting back into line dancing hasn’t been a challenge at all. “It’s like riding a bike,” he says. “It really has been much easier than I thought to get back into the swing of things.”
It’s an open question when, or if, the troupe will perform again. Although performance opportunities have begun trickling in since the reunion was announced, Platte is not sure he, much less the other guys, are interested in fully revving up again. “It takes a lot of time and effort to put things like this together,” he says.
Still, he notes that everyone is looking forward to the reunion: “The guys are really, really excited about coming back and performing again.”
The DC Cowboys will perform with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington on Saturday, March 12, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 20, at 3 p.m., at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $63. Call 202-888-0050 or visit thelincolndc.com.
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