At the heart of the Christopher Street fragrance story is the most often asked about olfactive accord: “Dance on Skin.” Meant to capture that quintessentially unique je ne sais quoi that is New York City activism, “Dance on Skin” is not only dedicated to the defiant spirit of the many people populating the streets of the West Village, but also echoes the musical sounds that has had these same people dancing up and down Christopher Street for generations. Whether protesting or partying, celebrating or rioting, “Dance on Skin” embodies what I believe to be the true heart and soul of Christopher Street.
As mentioned in the Christopher Street fragrance brief, dancing and nightlife were very important in regards to the history of Christopher Street, especially during the fifties and sixties when clubs like The Stonewall Inn showcased the popular sounds of the era. Many past patrons specifically mention the jukebox as a reason for meeting up at Stonewall. Heard playing on that jukebox, the music of Motown spoke to the racially diverse crowd seen inside, attracting an even mix of Whites, African Americans and Hispanics. Drag queens gravitated towards the songs of The Marvelettes, Gladys Knight, Connie Francis, Dusty Springfield, Diana Ross and The Supremes… and their stories of people overcoming impossible circumstances, love-loss and heartache. The sound was both romantic and dramatic. According to Smokey Robinson, “[Motown] is not an audible sound. It’s spiritual, and it comes from the people that make it happen.”
Capturing “Dance on Skin”
This one fragrance accord took more than two years to perfect… a true labor of love. Here began the fragrance story of Christopher Street; it was the first part of the fragrance to be formulated and guided the perfumed path to its completion. The “Dance on Skin” accord is a microcosm of the overall structure of Christopher Street, with both carefully constructed from a series of overlapping olfactive memories and impressions drawn directly from the history of the West Village. “Dance on Skin” was developed from two main sources of inspiration: a “dance” component and a “skin” component.
“Imagine that it is 1969: you are dancing inside Stonewall in an unventilated, smoke-filled room, no running water… and loving every minute of it.”
What is a fragrance if not a carefully choreographed dance performed by a series of olfactive materials? Quite literally a dance performed on our skin. When thinking about dance and its connection to Christopher Street, the idea was to pull inspiration from not only the many spaces one could go to dance (the various stages, bar room dance floors, speakeasies…), but also from the yearly dance down Christopher Street that is the Pride Parade. Even today, regardless of the hour of day or the time of year, music can always be heard coming from somewhere on Christopher Street. And where there is music, there is dancing. This unending dance is mimicked by the structure of the “Dance on Skin” accord, a mix of materials designed to conjure the pulsing energy that emanates from the crowd. The dance of Christopher Street is not a slow dance performed by two, but rather, a dance where you slowly lose yourself in a sea of moving bodies. The lights flash. The music swells. You make your way onto the floor and just let go.
Perhaps one of the most romantic qualities of any perfume is the union that it forms with our skin. We don’t just wear fragrance, we allow it to become a part of us. The inspiration of skin was briefly mentioned in regards to the use of leather, to explain why each bottle of Christopher Street comes wrapped in a leather square. “Dance on Skin” takes this notion a step further by incorporating the true scent of our skin as captured during the jubilant motions of dance. To achieve this, for two years, I profiled the smell of people’s sweaty skin on Christopher Street. Using a setup that included a modified hairdryer motor and a GC-MS fiber, over 500 people (both inside the venues of Christopher Street as well as along the path of the Pride Parade) allowed me to take a scent sample of their skin for use as part of the fragrance (and a huge thank you to all of those who permitted me to do this). The only stipulation was that each person needed to be “happily sweating” during the sampling.
“I liked that the scent needn’t be pretty, [could] even be slightly dirty. References to the bars and shops on the street were plenty. I thought it definitely had to be a sensual fragrance. I imagined somebody letting it all hang out and showing a lot of skin.” – Ralf Schwieger
The final composition of the “Dance on Skin” accord is a combination of these sweat tones along with a series of other olfactive notes found lingering in the surrounding spaces on Christopher Street, all joyously dancing together. It is a mixture of raw spices and dark musk, with a touch of herbaceous petrichor, whose true beauty springs to life once mixed with your own skin (as you join the dance). Ultimately, “Dance on Skin” is a multifaceted fragrance spectrum that is representative of the joy of life found on Christopher Street.