Dancers/DJ Club History

"Clubbing Late 70's Style" - Mark "Good Vibes" Taylor

Mark Taylor

Like the movie "Young Soul Rebels" it was as much about looks as it was dancing! The scene as I remember from early ’78 onwards was still in its infancy, but ready to explode nationwide into a bigger underground movement.

There were more clubs popping up playing disco and jazz-funk, plus due to sales more tunes that were hits on the scene were crossing over into the top 50 charts. The scene back then was about putting on your latest "garms," looking sharp, and making sure you had a good time getting down to the music.

With the main supply of releases still being in the disco/ jazz-funk category, it was still a handful of DJs who were pushing the envelope, Colin Curtis from the North West of England was for me (living in the North) the leader in this field. Most of the stuff played was the latest disco releases, but people like Colin would also play a few up tempo jazz releases as well as the usual suspects like Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, and The Crusaders.

Things like David Benoit "Life Is Like A Samba", John Klemmer "Brazilia", Tom Browne "Throw Down", Chick Corea " Fickle Funk/Central Park", George Duke "Festival", Mongo Santamaria "Sambita", and instead of the more commercial track "Fantasy" by Earth Wind And Fire, he would spin "Running" instead. There was no such thing as a strictly "Fusion scene" back then.

There were guys who started to get into the faster jazz-fusion tunes certain DJs were playing, but as there were only 2-3 tunes played a couple of times throughout the night, it was still some way off developing into nights like "The Electric Ballroom" in 1982 where the night was given over to up tempo jazz based music.

The club nights in the late 70’s would go from classic disco sounds like Saturday Night Band’s "Come On Dance Dance", Gary Criss "Rio De Janeiro", and Eumir Deodato’s "Whistle Bump", to jazz-funk tunes like Roy Ayers "Can’t You See Me"& Ronnie Laws "All For You". The P-Funk of Bootsy Collins and Cameo, and right down to a little bit of slow shuffling type tunes such as B. Baker and Chocolate Company "Snowblower", Lee Ritenour "Fly By Night", and Roy Ayers "I wanna Touch You Baby".

The fashion of the day was made up more of mixing up the latest styles, such as the latest must have name in jeans (tight Punk style drains), along with trends that developed on the scene itself. Such things as rubber jelly sandals, and gold tipped pointed shoes (Cuban heels were popular), along with double wrap leather belts and Hawaiian shirts (both very disco).

There were also the pleated leather trousers with matching leather ties for the more preposterous lads. Such things as Baggy Ball jeans with the matching bandido handkerchief (which was a style that came directly out of the scene) became very popular the following year along with leg warmers over your jeans!!!

The taste for more jazz based music probably came out of the need for more quality music, as a lot of disco was starting to sound stale (less quality releases coupled with the fact that the majors were releasing some really commercial disco dross). It was also starting to lose its hip underground factor, with middle of the road singers releasing disco tracks, and even grannies going to disco dancing classes!

It was time for people who cared about the music to move on, plus more and more jazz was starting to get played along the disco cuts. Some of the guys who were getting more into the jazz side of things started attending jazz & modern dance classes to improve their moves (not just fast leg work, but a graceful use of the arms and a more professionally controlled spin for example). This in turn led to some of these guys only really letting off to jazz tunes, no longer content to dance to the disco style tracks!

I remember the time I attended an "all-dayer" early 1982 in Manchester, and witnessed a group of dancers from Birmingham. They all had traditional spat shoes on, and would only dance to jazz tracks! They also had a habit of banging their shoes on the floor when they were dancing, almost like they were doing bad tap-dancing moves. The other guys from Leeds and Manchester who considered themselves good jazz dancers were not impressed with them stressing the music. LOL.

Guess this would be the beginning of what would in a few years become the "Blue Note revival", up to this point it was mostly new fusion releases that was moving the floor. Then the scene would explode in the mid 80’s into a fledgling scene of its own, and the rest is history.

Mark "Good Vibes" Taylor

"Happy Jazz Radio Show"

(Mark Taylor and Adrian Leach)