The Last Days of Disco…



It seems that Sophie Ellis Bextor’s new song is on auto loop every time I switch the radio on. I think it’s meant to be an “ear worm”, a song that gets into your head; more like gets onto my nerves! I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a shameless attempt at reviving a 70s disco sound, aping The Village People/Gladys Knight/Rose Royce, etc. This has been done many times over the last few years; Take That started it and  Jamiroquai’s “Cosmic Girl” marked the peak, but other attempts have met with much less success.  And yet musicians continue to recreate that Disco sound. Why? Surely we have moved on since the last days of disco?

Disco.  Even using that word gives me away, doesn’t it? I remember when the whole Saturday Night Fever thing exploded in the 70s when dance halls gave way to discotheques and the really cool ones in London had underfloor lighting. Discos or night clubs sprung up all over the country and you needed ID and follow a strict dress code to get in. Over zealous bouncers would have had no problem letting Hitler in, with his smart uniform, tie and shiny boots, but Jesus would have had no chance with his sandals, smock and shaggy hair! Into the 80s and it was all about money now with designer suits and expensive cocktails at the bar. The music was soulful and smooth. No self-respecting bloke would dance, the floor only occupied by girls, who usually danced in a circle, wagon formation, to keep away unwanted intruders. Guys would only descend when the DJ said, “It’s time to slow things down…”, dropped a ballad and it was all about getting that crucial slow grind with the girl you had been too scared to talk to all night. 

 Then the music changed and the cocktails became more of the pharmaceutical variety. Dress code went completely out of the window and baggy jeans and trainers were the thing. Now all about the DJs, Ibiza became the model for every dance venue; all foam parties and air horns. Blokes called Norman from Brighton or Adam from Dumfries could adopt a cool DJ moniker and become superstars overnight. Back here raves took over and, as we got used to dancing in fields, festivals grew. Glastonbury, once a haven for hippies, Rastas, punks and CND followers, grew into a monster event attracting the world’s biggest names. Bottles of beer have given way to bottles of Evian. Now everyone lives clean, goes to the gym, runs and behaves themselves. Night clubs are in decline; if kids want to listen to the latest banging tunes they go on Spotify and if they want to pull, they go on Tinder and dark clubs with flashing lights don’t let you take your best selfies to put on Instagram.

It’s a long way from Duke’s in Chelmsford in 1985, in my shiny suit, slugging pints of Castlemaine XXXX and cooly dangling a B&H out of the corner of my mouth, staying cool trying to avoid the haymakers of the nearby drunk, angry because the DJ wouldn’t play any ZZ Top.

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