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Story // JoAnn Zhang

Photos // Sam San Roman


Singer LEXXE, who cut her teeth as the starlet of a burlesque company, is releasing with Bentley Robles their maximalist brainchild, a hyped up, optimistic song called “I JUST WANNA DANCE!” Bentley, an endearingly over-the-top aspiring pop star, is full of the sort of experiences that make for good stories, such as the time he busked inside the Museum of Ice Cream, or the time he got scabies living in a drug house. And LEXXE has had the most fascinating career, particularly to coquette girlies, from working as a classically trained ballerina to becoming a burlesque performer at the most richly seductive troupe in New York. Together, they’re making a song you can’t turn away from, that combines their unique qualities, that might have you saying, “Let’s dance!”


What was the inspiration for the song?

LEXXE: One night I was leaving a show and remembered another amazing local artist had a show (Tanners) that a lot of my friends in the scene would be at – and was feeling a specific pull that night because I honestly just wanted to dance. Bentley was the first person I saw, and he bought me an old fashioned. We’d been dancing around each other in the industry for a while and now we’re working with the same producer Dominic Florio. We ended up going out for drinks together and after a few of them decided that we absolutely MUST write a song together and set a date for the next week. During those drinks I wrote in my notes, “I just wanna dance” because as Bentley and I talked about our prospective music styles, we kept relating back to the fact that we simply want to make music to dance and that’s our purpose here on earth. The session came together so seamlessly and the song literally wrote itself about our collective experience.

Personally, there’s two different inspirations going on for the lyric “I just wanna dance”. While simple, it’s complex in that I come from a complicated background of professional dance, where my love for it eventually became bitter and made me shy away from what I loved to do. Music helped me reignite my passion for that. And secondly, our rights as queer people have been consistently threatened, taken away, struck down and people are literally dying for being themselves. I know that even if they won’t be able to be themselves just yet, I hope a young queer person finds this song and knows that it’s a gay Batman signal of sorts to let them know their people are out there waiting for them on the dance floor at 3 Dollar Bill or The Ritz or wherever we may be.

Bentley: LEXXE covered our meet up story pretty perfectly. It’s so wild that a last minute decision to meet up for a drink birthed this whole song. Personally speaking, I feel like a lot of my songs end up being about love. When I met with LEXXE and Florio, I was really inspired to write something that wasn’t about love, but more so about freedom. I’ve always been a fan of LEXXE’s music–she’s the reason I started working with Florio–and I knew if I got her on a track it needed to be pop perfect. ‘I JUST WANNA DANCE!’ is exactly that. It’s an anthem about being yourself, letting go of expectations, inhibitions and responsibilities and just dancing it out.

How would you describe “I JUST WANNA DANCE!”?

Bentley: To be honest, “I JUST WANNA DANCE!” has felt big since day one. It has a nostalgic disco sparkle and glossy pop finish that make it an instant earworm. Something about the melodies and the way that LEXXE and I go back and forth on the verses give it a vintage charm. Glittery lyrics, pop perfect harmonies, and a belted chorus that practically slaps you in the face, make this song a special one. It’s genuinely one of my favorite songs ever, bar none.

LEXXE: I’d describe it as EUPHORIC. Also, almost like a nostalgia so strong that it feels like a cover, yet in the same breath a song you haven’t heard before. I personally feel inspired by Cher and Shania Twain on this and that’s an interesting combo, but somehow it makes sense.

How would you describe your collaboration together?

Bentley: Working with LEXXE has been unreal. She and I are so different in the best way, she is like a cool confident breeze of talent and dedication to the craft. She has kept me grounded through the whole experience. We’re both theater kids, both queer, both Latin. It’s been like working with family. I am so lucky she agreed to jump on. Also the fact that we wrote the song with FLORIO was really the icing on the cake. It was so easy and happened in like 4 hours. FLORIO is almost non-human in the way he produces. He has such an incredible intuition and working with him felt like a masterclass in songwriting. I genuinely felt and continue to feel so grateful.

LEXXE: It’s been so much fun! Working with Bentley has been so wonderfully rewarding because we both work so hard and juggle so many jobs as independent artists. And on the days it gets hard, or we feel like we’re running in place, it’s so nice to have someone to balance it out. We’re both business humans, so we literally came together like a puzzle piece to make everything come together for this song and visual.

How would you describe the music video? What were your favorite moments shooting together?

Bentley: Girlies, the music video is CAMPY, C*NTY & CAFFEINATED. I am so grateful to have gotten to work with Alexa San Roman on it–a queer female director. She has such a cool POV and she really brought out the best in us. The video really is an electric 3 minutes. It’s so colorful and queer and I just know people are gonna love it. Being on set with everybody was so fun, especially having a belted riff off at the top of my lungs with LEXXE, that and making our own mezcal margs while shooting.

LEXXE: It’s iconic!!!! I think one of my favorite moments was seeing Bentley in his element- and taking some of that home with me. I come from a strict professional ballet background so sometimes on sets I get very quiet and pensive and I need help coming out of that shell. Bentley was the perfect person to help me do that and it was one of the most fun shoots to date because of that. One of my favorite shots was when we did the choreo with the moving spotlights because it genuinely felt like we were on stage at the VMAs and we both felt it. Manifestation bb!

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