Disco coolnessMay 22nd, 2013 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
What does one do with a disco ball? Where in an Eighteenth Century house is there to hang it? It lies in a basement room, a gift from friends to the Best Beloved on the occasion of a significant birthday two years ago.
Disco-going days were in another lifetime, not that they were too common even then. Discos marked friends’ birthdays or the end of term at Sixth Form College, they were not the stuff of ordinary Saturday nights. By the autumn of 1979, they were past; no self-respecting undergraduate in London that term was going to admit liking disco music, even if the rhythms still spoke of friends and smiles and the innocent daftness of teenage years.
Discos were occasions to make absurd attempts at looking ‘cool’, or whatever was the 1970s expression. Big collared shirts, flared trousers, platform shoes; our fashions probably trailed by years what was being worn in London, but we thought we looked good. (Switching to wearing straight legged black jeans and cowboy boots in 1978, I thought I was cutting edge).
The cost of an evening cannot have been great, for money was hardly plentiful. Drinks were perhaps twenty or thirty pence, the admission cannot have cost more than a pound, and cost nothing if it was someone’s birthday party. (Full price tickets for Glastonbury Festival in 1979 were only £5, and, being locals, we were able to buy them in Glastonbury itself for £3 each).
The music was eclectic, but as ‘eclectic’ was not a word in our vocabulary, we would probably have said the DJ played loads of different stuff. Chart music would have been mixed with soul and rock and sometimes there were requests for records that would prompt a collective groan from those on the floor. Boys only danced if there was a girl to dance with; the idea of dancing around the handbags, as girls often did, was something to be watched from a safe distance.
Listening to an advertisement on the radio at lunchtime for a Rod Stewart concert, mention of seats is a reminder that the generation who danced to ‘Maggie May’ forty years ago tend not to be people now inclined to stand for very long. The thought that Seventies teenagers might wish to stand at a 21st Century Dublin concert in order to dance would seem faintly ridiculous to anyone watching. All the same, the opportunity might have got a few to their feet.