Friday, 26 March 2010

Welcome To 70's Disco Nightlife

Chapter - 2         Where do you start???.....

We were the Disco generation, heavily into black music, Motown, funk and soul, we led the crowd because a lot of our music was bought in on 'Imports. Not souless downloads of song that aren't released yet but downloaded now. NO.... these were vinyl LP's and singles shipped in from the US of A and there was a certain kudos of getting the track before anyone else. I still have most of those discs to this day, many are the ones often sampled in today's remixes. The music of Barry White MMM mmm (feel like makin lurv), James Brown, The Tempatations, Kool & The Gang, The Fatback Band and later on Brass Construction etc etc No Doubt about it the originals and the best!!! 

I don't like being in my mid fifties but without a doubt I'm so glad I lived through those halcyon days of the 70's with the best of music and nightlife. The young 'uns will never really appreciate what they have missed!!!!

No look back into the past would be complete without the obligatory embarrassing photo, here's mine,  before you ask..... NO!! it's not Hugh Hefner!! look closely I'm the 'Brains' lookalike in the middle with the DJ & dickie bow on, this snap was taken in Scamps Sutton in 1974. Anyone who had been in the club at that time would recognise the big background photo they were all round the place. At this time I was employed as an apprentice electrician working in the City of London & the West End at the time, the girls around me were a group of hairdressers we'd met in Scamps before, they were from the Tooting or Wandsworth area..... I think.

The black guy on the floor was Neil he was another regular in Scamps. Neil around this time was 'experimenting' and if memory serves me right, one particular evening he put one too many away, a lot of it was a concoction of beer and some added extras of the chemical pharmaceutical kind. He was blitzed this night and we lost sight of him apparently he spent the night crashed out in the bog, he came to and and had to be let out in the morning by the cleaners...... Whatever happened to him???

They were better times the girls acted like girls, no tattoos, football shirts nor aggressive chav tarts in their sports cars pulling donuts in the car park. In fact in those days the girls rarely got involved in fights or violence, OK there may have been the occasional spat or cat-fight but it was short lived..... It wasn't the done thing!!!...

I have to say at this point drugs were very rarely seen or used in public, if you were stupid and wanted to look hard enough and you could find them. Likewise violence, yes there were incidents, some fuelled by drink, but these were quickly seized upon, the participants were escorted out of the club and often if they persisted outside they were dealt with swiftly by the Bouncers. No-one went out tooled up, no knives, no guns!! no-one died it never happened!! God the world would have stopped if it had. In those days they were 'Bouncers' NOT door staff and they were often heavies with criminal pasts who were neither licenced, registered or been on Health & Safety courses..... LOL

Here's a few songs that were big at that time:-

'Finders Keepers' by Chairman Of The Board (Bonus it's either Legs and Co or Pans People on Top Of The Pops)

James Brown - Sex Machine

'I Found Sunshine' by The Chi-Lites

The Fatback Band - Wicky Wacky

Kool & The Gang - Jungle Boogie

Karl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting, now this is embarassing I remember going to Scamps in Sutton wearing a Red Kimono to strut my stuff...... Jeeeezus how bad is that!!!

The Master Of Smooch was of course Barry White - Never Gonna Give You Up

'Queen Of Clubs' by KC & The Sunshine Band

'Rock Your Baby' by George McCrae

My first time at Scamps in Croydon was marked by the Commodores track 'Machine Gun'...... 

By 1976 my time clubbing it was coming to an end,  I had a friend who was mates with Greg Edwards  the soul DJ on Capital Radio at the time. On our way to clubs such as the 100 club in Oxford Street (no common burger flippers in the... they served Chinese food... HOW BIZARRE!!) and Chaguaramas  (pronounced Shay Guaramas  ie like Che Guevara) in the West End, for me marriage was looming funk and disco was on its way out Jazz Funk was on its way in by tracks such as:-
'Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Of The Sucker)" by Parliament

The Blackbyrds - Walking In Rythm

The Average White Band - Pick Up The Pieces

Brass Construction

Scamps was the main club near where I lived and along with its sister club Scamps in Croydon, these two were the main discos where I spent most of my nights along with Ray 'L', Kevin 'H', Peter 'J' and a few others. However our musical excursions started way before that, as kids we all attended the same school spending our spare time playing out, going to places on our bikes or on the bus, generally doing the things kids took for granted in that time before fear and paranoia was thrust upon us by the media.

The fashion trend we all followed was the 'smooth' or 'suedehead' look moving away from the Levi's, braces and high leg Doc Martins. OH yeah and lets not forget Old Spice atershave was out and the great smell of BRUT was in..... In those days it was so new and the whole teenage world stank of it!! If you were female Gingham was the in fragrance in fact it was a much sweeter copy of Brut. Although that changed in the early 70's when the girls wore 'STYX" Eau De Mischief  love potion perfume , not to be confused with the original 1920's version, I think about the same time Denim and Hai Karate were the mens fragrances of choice.  It was the end of the era of the Harrington bomber jacket (I remember buying mine from a 'boutique' in Sutton called Max Anthonys) 

In the early 70's the order of the day for us  was Brutus or Ben Sherman shirts with the pleat down the back were still in, I loved the button down collars it was when the trend moved to penny collars that wasn't so good. Out for a night strutting your stuff the getting your face slapped by those stupid huge collars.
Style and cut was the order of the day, flares were out and Prince of Wales or Dogtooth checked Oxford bags (trousers) Levi Staypressed or Evapressed trousers were in.  Tank-tops, platform shoes, and shirts with prints on were in and to complete the look the hair fashion was for longer styled hair it.

We were the same as teenagers through the ages, we tried booze, got drunk and bragged to our mates how butch we were drinking super strength brews or spirits that didn't affect us, not to be outdone we were forever 'upping' the imaginary strength of our drink compared to our mates boast about how strong their drink was, it was just Brinkmanship not to be outdone.

When I look back I cannot remember any occasion when any of us had the need to get wrecked in Scamps if nothing else we could not afford it, I remember parties where some of us did get wrecked, of course we sank a few jars in the club but for us all money was tight so more often than not we had enough money to pay to get in or if we were lucky got free entrance tickets. Sometimes if it was a tight night our drink of choice was Coke often sharing it with your mate(s). 

At this point very few of us had cars, so all too often our night-out started walking to the club, its not always good walking home at 3.00 in the morning especially after leaving the club all hot & sweaty on a winters night and a more enjoyable walk home (no late night kebab shops then) but we did what we had to because we were born to dance and like peacocks we needed a place to strut our stuff, it was ALL about the MUSIC and those fabulous !all important Ladieeeeees!!......

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