The “Sloopy Girl” dancer
In 1975, when 19-year-old Lisa Leonard Dalton performed her dance to Hang on Sloopy, while rock musician Rick Derringer and his band played the music, nobody would have suspected that nearly 50 years later the film would become an online sensation. Those of us into oldies know that the original Hang on Sloopy single was a #1 hit for Derringer’s band, the McCoy’s, back in 1965. But he recorded it again a decade later, with an era-typical “reggae-ish” sound, for his 1975 album Spring Fever. When VH1 music TV bought the film, to run as a classic oldie in the ’80s, they backdated it with a 1965 watermark. That has led to confusion, with some viewers mistakenly believing that the film was shot ten years earlier than it actually was. Click HERE to view the vintage VH1 video.
The Hang on Sloopy remake was filmed for exclusive release in Europe, not the U.S., and apparently it received considerable exposure in the U.K., Down Under, and with the British Navy and sometimes with U.S. sailors deployed on aircraft carriers and submarines that were equipped with movie theaters. Debuting in the U.S. and around the world on YouTube circa 2012, the dancing girl video soon went viral. That video and variations thereof, have amassed at least 200 million views on YouTube alone (and the number of online hits grows by tens of thousands every day). Thousands of people have also watched it on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, TikTok and other social media.
Who was that girl?
For the first several years, viewers guessed at the identity of the dancing girl. Rumors bombarded the internet: The dancer was Rick Derringer’s ex-wife American Liz “Agriss” Derringer. That rumor actually made some sense, but it was wrong. Soon the ex-wife, Liz Derringer, and her current husband, stated publicly that she was not the dancer. When that tale fell apart, the wacky rumor emerged that the dancer was a Brit socialite and events planner named Liz. It made no sense: The Brit Liz was a decade too old and she had no connection whatsoever with the dance. Rumors are fueled by ignorance, and often they are spread by trolls, so the ridiculous myth briefly found a place in online lore. Since the theory was illogical, to make it kind of fit the story, the narrative was twisted to morph the Brit Liz into Rick’s one time American wife Liz Derringer. That was false, of course. Rick has been married three times, only once to a Liz, and she wasn’t British. And the Brit Liz was married only once, and not to Rick Derringer. To discover how we know that the Brit Liz was not the dancer (nor was she otherwise attached to Rick Derringer), click HERE.
The true identity of the “Sloopy Girl” dancer was revealed in September 2021. In a two part documentary, released concurrently here at QZVX (then called Puget Sound Media) and at YouTube, the facts were unveiled in Deconstructing a Myth: Sloopy Girl. (Read the QZVX story, which included the video, by clicking HERE). The article and the video provided proof that the dancer was teenage LA dance contest champion Lisa Leonard Dalton. In the spotlight at Gazzarri’s night club on the Hollywood strip, Lisa met many famous people. At one time her boyfriend was Hollywood heart-throb Dennis Cole, star of several network television shows including the long-running The Young and the Reckless. (Cole later married actress Jaclyn Smith from the hit TV show Charlie’s Angels.) It was Lisa’s mid-’70s reputation as the best female dancer at Gazzarri’s that secured her the role as the dancing “Sloopy Girl” in the now viral video. By the way, Lisa was never married to Rick Derringer nor did she ever date him.
Rick Derringer verifies that Lisa’s the dancer
The revelation that Lisa was the dancer in the famous video was met with resounding public acceptance from an international fan base. Her “Sloopy Girl” YouTube channel has had millions of views, a 99% viewer approval rating on her content, and thousands of comments by her fans. In 2022, it was gratifying for Lisa, and for those persons helping her set the record straight, when Rick Derringer verified on his Facebook page that Lisa was in fact the dancer in his Hang on Sloopy video. Rick’s words effectively eliminated the possibility that either of the two “Lizzes” was ever the dancing girl.
The Deconstructing a Myth: Sloopy Girl documentary had been released more than a year before Rick tagged Lisa as the dancer. Therefore, the documentary had relied heavily on the accounts of more than a dozen witnesses, vintage photos, physical evidence, and police grade facial recognition software that had unequivocally identified Lisa Leonard Dalton as the “Sloopy Girl” dancer.
Facial recognition software not required!
In preparing this article, this editor ran across two photos (below) of Lisa Leonard Dalton that don’t require analysis by facial recognition software. At the right is a snapshot of Lisa at a family event in 2010 (two years before her dance went viral. She had no clue that copies of the dance video existed). On the left is 19-year-old Lisa, a frame from the dance video, displaying that natural and winning “Sloopy Girl” smile. With the photos placed side by side, it is quite obvious that these pictures are both the same woman — even though 35 years had elapsed between the two shots.
Studio location of Hang on Sloopy film shoot now revealed
Another often heard inquiry, and a mystery that viewers have speculated about for years, is “where was the dance filmed?” Lisa has kept that information to herself, choosing to avoid publicizing or sharing key details of the film shoot with any “Sloopy Girl” wannabes. When Lisa was asked, she’d always reply that the dance was shot at a Hollywood studio backlot. In January 2024, Lisa decided that the time was right to publicly reveal that secret. At this point, anyone trying to hijack her online presence for personal gain will be quickly identified as an impostor.
As it turned out, those film images of a young girl joyously dancing to Rick Derringer’s music on desolate streets, surrounded by dilapidated buildings, was actually filmed in the waning years of what has been referred to as Hollywood’s “greatest” movie studio. As Lisa Leonard Dalton’s story continues to unfold, please click on the video below to explore the legendary Hollywood studio backlot where the “Sloopy Girl” dance was filmed.