An Invitation to my school disco circa 1973-1976 ( you must be 13-18 in your head to attend)


Hello Good people and Tiger Feet who still read this blog…

  THIS IS MY MOST AMBITIOUS BLOG ENTRY TO DATE. THIS POST MAY TAKE SEVERAL SECONDS TO DOWNLOAD FULLY.  IN THE MEANTIME READ MY PRE-AMBLE AND THEN JOIN ME AT THE DISCO!

Last entry I made comments on the dreary songs of Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran, this post follows on from that. As many of my readers will know, before he was convicted for murder, Phil Spector was a legendary music producer. He multi-tracked many instruments playing simultaneously, until it created his notorious “Wall of Sound”. Now UK bands have many instruments playing simultaneously but end up with a “Wall of Bland”.

As an alternative, I am sending you a warm invitation to join me for a historical recreation of a 1970s school disco. This has little relation to “hippie counterculture” and is purely done for my pleasure and hopefully yours. 

Are you feeling down? If you come to my disco you will feel 100 times happier and perhaps 4 decades younger. (Bring friends!)

An explanation of what I am doing:

I am recreating an authentic playlist of music, that I remember dancing to at a variety of school discos in South London between 1973 and the beginning of 1977. The schools employed professional disk jokeys who supplied music and sometimes lighting. Later when the punk, reggae and other underground music scenes exploded, I was going to punk gigs, heavy dub reggae clubs, and then moved north of the Thames to become part of an alternative music scene, leaving my school disco days behind.

Setting the scene: School discos were of course free of charge. We as pupils thought it was very funny that the teachers attended. They sat at a table at the back of the school assembly hall, where the discos took place. We were amused to see the female teachers with their glasses removed, exposing lashings of bright blue eyeshadow and mascara, wearing flowing evening gowns and giggling. The male school teachers stood around in their flash 70s leisure suits, a bottle of beer in hand, getting drunk. They were vastly outnumbered by the women.

Normally our teachers were strict and angry with us, and loudly condemning all sexual activities outside a loving marriage. If we exposed the slightest bit of flesh, we were seriously reprimanded. But at the school disco, the teachers were now giggling and flirting with one another in a very scary way.

It was the teacher’s night off and so we also got the night off, to dance to sexy tunes, but we were pretty well behaved. The general age group was around 13 to 19 years old. Strangely I don’t remember being accompanied by parents to or from any discos or parties in my early teens. I seem to remember that we were allowed alcohol in a weak punch (mostly lemonade). No one got actually drunk, a few girls my age went outside to have cigarettes (usually forbidden at school). There was no sex or drugs that I knew of. Occasionally couples “snogged” on the dance floor or outside.

I went to discos at different schools in South London but they were pretty much all the same.

The lighting was simply done by turning most of the lights off! Some DJs supplied lighting, such as a strobe, which would be used during the final set of rock numbers. How I loved to dance in the strobe light, all self-consciousness gone! Occasionally the DJ would have a tiny lighting rig, which looked like a miniscule set of traffic lights, with four or five dim lights of different colours. This was set up in front of his decks which were on a table. Occasionally there was a glitter ball attached to the ceiling which made the school hall sparkle during the disco numbers. Sometimes there was a smoke machine used during slow romantic numbers.

I have little recollection of the DJs, anonymous young men with hundreds of 7 inch singles in cardboard boxes. If you went to ask them for a request, they usually told you to shove off.

There would be EXCELLENT sound quality, this was everything in the 1970s. Big speakers, loud music. The “cartridge” attached to the stylus, was usually incredibly rare and expensive. When music lovers handled their records and put them back in their sleeves, they did this with the same care and expertise that a Catholic would treat the ancient relics of some saint’s fingers or other revered body parts. I also remember being dragged to a massive “Hi-Fi” show spread across several posh hotels, where people would buy the latest stereo, or sometimes quadrophonic, hi-fi equipment. It all had to be perfect and newly developed, it had to be the right brand, and the sound of the music had to be perfect.

Dancing: generally speaking the boys didn’t dance. It was deeply uncool for boys to dance. If they did dance it was usually to their favourite rock tune. When self-conscious long-haired teenage boys heard their favourite band being played at the disco, they felt compelled to get on the dance floor to pay tribute to their most hallowed musicians. They would do this kind of Neanderthal adolescent swaying, sometimes with a sort of “hopping” movement, whilst trying to head bang at the same time. It was rarely in time to the beat. They managed to make their long hair cover their faces enough to hide their self-consciousness. I think this kind of dancing evolved into punk pogoing and rock “moshing”.

But there were also many boys with short-hair who liked dancing and were fearless in doing so, they danced like the girls mostly.

Other more “square” and timid boys, whose own clothes resembled school uniforms, hung around in the shadows like patient fishermen angling under the full moon. They were only here in the hope of enticing a girl to dance with them during the smooching songs near the finish.

The girls danced together usually in pairs or groups of friends. I recall several main types of dance although you could just about get away with anything, in fact I had invented a “finger dance” for when I was tired.

The main “girl’s dance” was swinging hips from side to side with slight stepping left to right, in time to the music. Hands and arms were not used much. I still use this dance technique today and get away with it.

Then there was the “funky chicken”, which was basically pretending to be a chicken.

Then the “bump” which was great fun. Usually a friend would interrupt your chicken movements by suddenly “bumping” into your bottom with their bottom or hip.

Then there were more sophisticated dances that accompanied “Jive Talking” and “the Hustle” and any songs mentioning the twist. They usually involved doing something with your arms and hands and legs at the same time and were hard to maintain.

Also there was the wild head banging which I was very good at especially as I had long hair and loved rock music.

Apart from that there was the “slow dance” ritual. The DJ would play several slow songs in a sequence. The start of each song could be the cause of some fear and trepidation.

Those boys who had been waiting around patiently for the chance to dance up close with a girl, would emerge from the shadows. They asked the girls and were mostly rejected. The girls weren’t expected to ask who we wanted to dance with, that would be controlling, unfeminine and totally unacceptable. Mostly the boys who asked us to dance were just not the ones we wanted to dance close to, let alone kiss, so we rejected them. Often girls danced with each other to avoid the whole embarrassment of it.

Others who paired up to dance to the slow tracks would often end up “snogging” and dribbling all over each other while the rest of us looked on. During these slow dances, the boys often suffered from what we called WHD or “wandering hands disease”. Things didn’t usually go too far at the school disco though, but some new romances developed between the older teenagers.

The music that was played was often the stuff I vowed NEVER to have in my own record collection. For a start they were all singles, I collected and listened to albums by dozens of “serious” artists such as Genesis, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and others. I hated to listen to “soul” music and disco songs but conversely I loved to dance to them with my friends. Now when I hear these same tunes I feel totally invigorated.

Now I can hear the musicianship in these songs. I can understand why and how I resent bland music that is produced now (I am also guilty of this in my own song writing). Perhaps the rock journalist in the film “Almost Famous” was right, maybe pop music should be “dumb”. Maybe once pop music gets too clever, it’s just no fun anymore for anyone.

This is escapist music but it isn’t stupid, there’s a lot of skill in the arrangements, orchestration, dynamics, and in the playing and singing techniques.

Some of these tracks are much older than 1973 but were obviously favourites of DJs and dancers at that time.

As we danced we thought that the music of the future would be so incredibly superior to the songs we danced to at our school disco. We thought these songs were a “flash in the pan”, a passing trend, of disposable songs for “teenyboppers” that would be dead and forgotten within 6 months. Sometimes it’s probably better that we don’t know the future…

So make yourself some weak shandy, get your best dance moves ready, and join me for this authentic 1973-1976 school disco playlist and I guarantee that you will feel life is better!

N.B. please play this through the best speakers you can find, and LOUD!

Once you’ve danced to all of these, it will be like taking acid and going to the moon, you’ll never be the same again.

Oh and I forgot to say… it is usually in fancy dress. I used to just wear my every day clothes, add a head band and paint flowers on my face, and declare myself a hippie, which I was anyway! Others made an effort. At one school disco, a boy in my class was wearing full scuba diving gear, complete with flippers, a black whole body frog suit, snorkel and goggles. I spoke to him for some time and he just nodded back. I thought it was probably difficult for him to speak. Then he turned away and I watched him walk off, slowly raising his big flippers and slapping them onto the floor. I kind of felt sorry for him, as it wasn’t ideal footwear for a disco, or walking, or speaking. I then turned round to look at the others, and saw the guy I thought I’d been speaking to, standing next to me, not in fancy dress. I’ve no idea who the bloke in the frog suit was!

This is an epic playlist. I chose a total of 58 songs from over 170, so there are quite a few I had to leave out. I wanted the timing to fit the length of an evening. The disco starts at 7 pm and closes at 11pm because otherwise your parents would worry!

It’s a mixture of soul, rock, early disco, pop, early reggae and novelty records. Some sections are for fast dancing, others for less vigorous dancing, one section for “headbanging”, and one for smooching and bringing the evening to a close.

I’ve put these songs in an order so that it more or less flows, this was before DJs did proper “mixing”. They just tried to get the mood to flow from one track to another rather than try to match bpm.

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FINALLY THE DISCO STARTS HERE, THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE:

  1. Crocodile Rock – Elton John (3.53   )

  1. Cum on feel the noize- Slade (3.21)

  1. I can help- Billy Swan (3.57) fade before end

  1. My coo ca choo- Alvin Stardust (2.44)

  1. Tiger Feet- Mud (3.50)

  1. 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago (4.59)

  1. Kung Fu Fighting (3.11)

  1. Who’s that lady- Isley Bros (5.36)

  1. Layla- Derek and the Dominos (7.04)

  1. Wishing Well- Free (3.31)

  1. Feel Like Making Love – Bad Company (5.05)

  1. Nutbush City Limits- Ike & Tina Turner (2.59)

  1. Boogie Nights- Heatwave (3.11)

  1. That’s the way- K.C. and the Sunshine Band (3.07)

  1. Love is the Drug- Roxy Music (2.41)

  1. Monster Mash- Bobby Picket (3.15)

17. The Leader of the pack- the Shangri-las (2.38)

  1. Seasons in the sun-Terry Jacks (3.26)

  1. Make me smile – Cockney Rebel (3.55)

  1. The Jean Genie – David Bowie (4.38)

  1. Now I’m Here- Queen (4.14)

  1. Hocus Pocus- Focus (3.20)

  1. Pick up the pieces – Average White Band (4.00)

  1. Boogie Wonderland- Earth, Wind and Fire (4.52)

  1. The Hustle – Van McCoy (3.49)

  1. You Sexy Thing- Hot Chocolate (4.04)

  1. Heaven must be missing an angel – Tavares (3.31)

  1. Sugar, Honey, Honey- The Archies (2.45)

  1. The Isrealites – Desmond Dekker (2.35)

  1. Hey Fattie Bum Bum- Carl Malcom (2.08)

  1. Uptown top ranking – Althea and Donna (3.55)

  1. Superstition – Stevie Wonder (4.27)

  1. Lady Marmalade- Labelle (3.58)

  1. Green Onions- Booker T & the MG’s (2.58)

  1. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting- Elton John (4.57)

  1. Blockbuster- The Sweet (3.11)

  1. Remember you’re a Womble –The Wombles (3.46)

  1. Sugar Baby Love- The Rubettes (3.30)

  1. Money, Money, Money – Abba (3.07)

  1. This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us – Sparks (3.01)

  1. Black Night- Deep Purple (3.26)

  1. Silver Machine- Hawkwind (4.38)

  1. Hi-Ho Silver Lining- Jeff Beck (2.51)

  1. You really got me – The Kinks (2.14)

  1. Whiskey in the Jar – Thin Lizzie (3.52)

  1. Pinball Wizard- The Who (3.02)

  1. Easy Livin’ – Uriah Heep (2.36)

  1. Radar Love- Golden Earring (5.03)

  1. Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf (3.30)

  1. All the Young Dudes- Mott the Hoople (3.27)

  1. A Whiter Shade of Pale- Procul Harum (4.00)

  1. Killing me softly- Roberta Flack (4.50)

  1. Air that I breathe – The Hollies (4.08)

  1. Without You- Harry Nilsson (3.28)

  1. Sailing – Rod Stewart (4.51)

  1. Bridge Over troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel (4.51)

  1. Samba Pa Ti – Santana (4.52)

 

Goodnight all you “Tiger Feet” out there.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

A (relatively peaceful) Revolution!


Hello Good people who read this blog.

I am still here, excuse my absence due to hard work, change and constant illness.

Today is both Maggie Thatcher’s birthday ( don’t ask me how I know this) and the death of Thatcher’s vision.

I am not sure of what state of mind or coherence she is in due to illness but I am sure she would not have wished to hear that three of the main high street banks have been ” nationalised” or at least necessitated being rescued by tax payer’s money.

I went to my bank earlier today, oblivious of the latest news . The staff were unusually rude and unhelpful and I ended up having to make my transitions over the phone as the staff at my local branch were unable to do fairly simple processes. But as I was leaving annoyed and frustrated they suddenly asked me if I wanted a new credit card and managed to say this politely.

When I just  watched the evening news I realised the reason for their incredibly unhelpful behaviour was possibly shock. Whoever would have thought Lloyds and Barclays would need rescuing?

and what’s happening about Coutts ? The bank for truly posh people…

a bit of Thin Lizzy ( not exactly a hippie band but this version of the song “It’s Only Money”  has a great edge to it I think you’ll agree. I think the original was written by Rod Argent of rock band Argent ( argent being “money” in French …Bizzarre!) … no doubt someone will cover it during this recession and cash in….

Gordon Brown assures us in fatherly tones that he will guarantee our money is safe and also that the money lost in Icelandic bank accounts will be safe…. but how can he possibly make such guarantees?

The Icelandic bank thing was weird. I never saw that one coming. It’s a bit like hearing that Bjork is in fact the messiah and the second coming of Christ ( plus the significant other of all world religions and belief systems)  and that we were never notified of this fact up until now.

I’m sorry but I , like the majority of people in the UK up until now,  am obviously completely ignorant of what is really going on in the world of international banking.

I know it’s a bit of a strange concept for a hippie to write about money but money is important to everyone especially for those who long for a less materialistic world.

and now for something complete different…from Eric Idle ( excuse the subtitles it was the only clip  of this I found that didn’t link up to some business site)

This society and this world we live in has been turning a blind eye to corruption and unsavoury business practices for a long-time. Now we have our wake up call, out “Tower card” in tarot terms and our ” Number 51 The Arousing/Shock..thunder and lighting ” in I Ching terms. A time of sudden unexpected shock which betrays all the built-up faults and  corruption that festered somewhere for so long and Boom! Flash ! Thunder and Lightning! ( Kerpow!) The Ivory Tower of Power is struck down and it falls, everything that was secure is demolished. There is shock and panic and the underlying truths are all revealed. Deception and corruption have had their day.

You’d think we would learn from our mistakes, that now the blinkers would come off and people would say:

“Come on let’s be reasonable and have some common sense. Let’s plan ahead so we have no more disasters, let’s not base everything around money and business because it doesn’t work.

and yet the rest of the day’s news reads like a ” Book of Fables for the truly stupid “ ( if this book has not been written it should be  so you can buy it for people who you don’t really want to give presents to at Christmas) plus “The Concise Encyclopedia of Disasters caused by people with more GREED than actual money” and “ 100 things to do when you are lonely , bored and unemployable, and neither your TV or your computer work and you are living in a tower block that is suddenly hit by an economic crisis“( this isn’t very funny, I need to get well again so I can get more creative!)

So yes I can see a few more crises looming up

worldwide climate change …..action taken by clever UK …build another airport runway!

Increasing crime, alienation of youth, general morale low, people feeling dis-empowered and needing to feel more responsible and taking an active part in creating our society…action taken ……let’s bring in the 42 day detention bill , then everyone will know that they  can safely be thrown into a cell for 6 weeks with no reason given at all and also let’s have cells in secondary schools to get them in training
Can’t afford to build houses, losing jobs oh f*** me we have no money…..action taken by clever UK ……….let’s carry on spending millions for the Olympics and show how great the British are and let’s pay more taxes to bail out the banks

If these banks are nationalised and as the news claims we own the banks, then does that mean when the banks make profits again that we also get them? I think not!

So in fact the people are paying taxes for the bank’s debts. Is Gordon Brown or his successor really going to be able to find all this guaranteed money?  From where exactly? It is a mystery…………

Revolutions are things that have come full circle….

and yet I feel a kind of calm about the future. I am not panicked and many around me seem to be carrying on as usual.

I remember George Harrison when he was ill with cancer talking about it in a very calm way in a TV interview. He said that fans should not worry and that everything come and goes in cycles. His spiritual belief was very strong and gave him strength too.

I think now on Thatcher’s birthday we have also come full circle,  all of a sudden money and business is no longer revered. All the unethical trading is no longer sanctioned under the general premise that all business is good and that the successful business men and women of this world should be looked up to and their luxurious lifestyles are the one thing we should aspire to make you happy.

Because if there’s one thing I have learnt by being an outsider who knows some very very very rich people is that money and business do not make you happy. Many ( but not all) of the richest families are truly dysfunctional .There are so many secrets to be kept , rich businessmen do not make faithful or non-violent husbands, beautiful trophy wives who struggle to look perfect are  frequently  on anti-depressants or other drugs and are often abandoned and lonely in their palatial homes , the children are driven to work so hard in school and with extra lessons in the evenings that they have no time for play or friends and their current nanny or tutors are emotionally closer to them than their parents ever will be.

Being excessively rich is not the dream we were sold. Being poor is no good either but there are many types of poverty.

Before I get even more depressing here is George Harrison who like all the Beatles had a great sense of humour

Now we are clearly in a massive financial crisis leaving alongside world climate change  we all ask one question…

What does the future hold?

The only thing that is certain is CHANGE , BIG CHANGE

Hearing banking experts on the news and journalists criticising banking practices that went on for the past 20- 28 years it makes me laugh from the hypocrisy.

Although bankers are responsible for doing many wreckless things I feel they are to a certain extent being treated like scapegoats because each person who voted for the Tories or New Labour knew they were voting for business, they took out loans which they knew they could not pay back, they bought shares and became mini-business people themselves. They too criticised or ignored those too ill, old or otherwise unable to work. They too criticised single mothers on benefits while knowing that childcare costs about the total sum of their wages. They too invested in savings accounts which in turn helped to keep the business wheels turning involving the  exploitation of the poorest people in the world.

Business is not always a bad thing, we all need to survive, but this society has turned a blind eye for so long to anything else but the “ethics” of making money and spending money. The bankers are responsible but so is everyone who supported the highly materialistic machine of exploitative business.

We have come full circle and now

In the mainstream media which governs our thoughts and ethics more than any other institution we have  woken up from the American dream that we espoused so readily under Thatcher.

But people are still flying , driving , wasting our water, our earth, our air, our energy supplies. We need to wake up to this as well.

High fliers it’s time to come to earth, no more money for cocaine driven dreams.


We need to recreate our society again with different priorities or suffer the consequences.

Hippies created self-sufficient communities and tried to find alternative ways of living without money but with a better quality relationships between people.  We need to do this but in a way that is practical and that can last.

Love and peace

Born2rant

hoping there are not too many mistakes in my free-flow writing…will edit tomorrow…

Leaving you with a musical ray of hope from Steve Hillage’s version of Hurdy-Gurdy man ( Donovan) because without hope and only fear everything goes to pot and not in a good way!

P.S. Ringo doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour at the moment.