Dancers/DJ Club History
An Old School Memoir: "Jaffas" at The Horseshoe - Prince Peter
Prince Peter (1982)
I stumbled across The Bottom End website and was so impressed! A few weeks ago I stumbled across some web sites about Northern Soul, which obviously brought me into contact with the club Scenes of "The Twisted Wheel" and the great "Wigan Casino" and the tracks they played there. Ending with their famous "3 before 8". Some time back there was a BBC series called, "Soul Britannia".
They never mentioned anything of the British club scene during that era, not even Chris Hill's 'Mafia'. Of course there are some groups that this scene would have shunned, "Imagination" (for example), not even "Sade" let alone "The Warriors" or "Cayenne (Roberto Who?)"
Now when I saw your web site I was taken right back to that time! As time goes by one sort of begins to doubt if such an era actually took place, as the sands of time seems to have wiped us out of club history and the music scene.
In those days, I was an East London boy, so my musical journey started with the Monday night Ilford Town Hall, with the great Froggy's Sound system, and the new band, Light of the World singing "London Town".
As I managed to remember my correct date of birth for the Bouncers, I progressed to the legendary night club the "Lacey Lady".
This brought me into direct contact to the Jazz-Funk and Fusion scene. "Lacey Lady" (stuck in Seven Kings, Ilford) drew crowds from all over London and Tom Holland was the resident DJ. Amongst the dancers there was the awesome Muhammad. I remember the last night when they announced that the "Lacey Lady" was going to close.
There was no place to move, I could not even dance because it was so packed out, and the clubbers were ripping the paper off the wall for souvenirs.
I also went to "Crackers" and their all-nighters with George Power, and at one point "The Global Village" prior to its demise. At that time my friends were serious dancers in the Funk and Soul scene and they were so good that I often remained on the sidelines in their presence.
One of my friends went on to study dance at Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden School, after all this was the age of "FAME".
He then went on to feature in "Starlight Express". His name was, Algernon Williams, or Algy or for short. In those days after a great nights dancing,
we would venture into either "Groove Records" on "Wardour Street", or "The Record Shack" for the latest tracks.
Because I knew I could not dance as good as my mainstream posse, I took a liking to Jazz. I was in the Army as a Boy (aged 16) and stationed in Nuneaton and noticed in particular Leicesters Scamps in the Midlands. They had combined the dancing of Northern Soul to Jazz, mainly 'Latin'.
I was amazed, because the music scene and Jazz scene was rare up north compared to down south (I am talking back in 1980). Their moves were spins and twirls since they had the space while down South it was almost pure body moves as we were packed in those clubs.
Travelling back to my home turf, I still went to "Crackers", "100 Club", "Spats" in the West End, and the "Greyhound" in Chadwell Heath which was the "Lacey Lady" substitute venue, but the crowds had moved on. Still, that is where I heard George Duke's "Brazilian Love Affair". That was an influential album and the track, "Up from the Sea it arose, and ate Rio in one swift bite", a true challenge.
At that time the Jazz was more, The Jeff Lorber Fusion "Wizard Island" etc. I Once went to "The Royalty" in Southgate, and remember Chris Hill playing Gill Scott Heron's "The Bottle". He lambasted people for forming circles round the ones that were good at dancing to it, as they should be dancing themselves.
Early days those, at that time it was 'Jap Jazz' which was in big demand. Sadao Watanabe & Hiroshi Fukumura's "Hunt Up Wind" was of particular note. I used the dance moves I saw up north to combine them with the London moves, and made my name within my posse as being, "The Jazz man". 'Trickers' carpet slippers with a 'crown\stags' head, a skull cap, bleached stretch jeans (with beer mat in back pocket), and yes I even had a pair of those patented leather shoes!
Later I was stationed in Germany at that time. When I was on leave, I had to go clubbing on my own to catch up with the scene. That is when I discovered "Jaffas" at the Horseshoe and my world just opened up. There was the Funk and Soul room, where I would listen to about three or four tracks before going into the furnace of the "Jazz Room".
What symbolised it for me was when "Morrissey/Mullen", a British jazz band, turned up to play some tracks off their "new" album called, "Badness". They played on stage but the crowd were not really looking at them, as they were dancing, and dancing HARD! The music was LIVE and I mean LIVE. They played the track "Slipstream" which got into your body, and everyone was so into it.
I will never forget the musician Morrissey when exhausted at the end of their session announcing: "Thank you very much, this is best appreciation of our music we could have, not sitting down in a club clapping and sipping drinks, but as you guys have done dancing your asses off, thank you very much". It was like we were the entertainment and the band was honoured by OUR presence!
The dancing was very competitive. For the first two times I would just stand right at the back, observe, practise like hell during the week then on the third visit nonchalantly strut my stuff on the floor. I remember a few girls there who were exceedingly good, and nothing is going to put a man down more as a woman out dancing against him within the circle! But it was all good fun.
I was adopted by three Surrey girls, who knew I was a young soldier on the Town getting into the Scene, and they took me to "Jesters" in Kingston where I heard "Apex" by Lonnie Smith. I was so much in love with that track, that I brought a saxophone and tried to practice once back in the barracks back in Germany, to the consternation of everyone on the block!
Still I managed miraculously to hit those haunting notes made at the beginning and end of that track. But I was forced to sell the instrument by the rest of the Soldiers.
"Jesters was a good club and the Surrey Girls were good to me. They managed to have a tape made for me by one of the DJs, Ian Shaw; I lost the tape long ago but still have the cover with the tracks written on as follows:
"Funk 'n' Soul/Jazz -December 1981 "Jesters"
Sixty Nine- Brooklyn Express
You're The One For Me- D Train
Keep On- Touch
Dancing To The Beat- Henderson And Whitfield
Simbora- Paulihno Da Costa
Mr C- Norman Conners
Mr & Mrs- Tania Maria
Slick- Ramsey Lewis
Celebration Suite- Airto
Samba Do Brilho- Bill Hardman
Pygmy- African Suite
Commotion- Eddie Harris
Another track that I was in love with back in the day was, "New York Afternoon" by Richie Cole, with vocals sung by Eddie Jefferson. Just like Seymour Nurse's brilliant story of "The Bottom End", I too had a similar journey with this track. I only heard it once at "Jesters", as it was the final tune and I kept humming this song for 8 years before I actually heard it again.
Even then it was only the instrumental version on the Jazz Juice Album, and I did not know all the words but simply adored it. Later with the invention of the Internet I actually managed to order an album of "Keeper of the Flame" which had the original with vocals, I was in Heaven...
Friends caught on and while times changed the music changed. I was always disappointed with this "Rare Groove and "Acid Jazz" stuff, and there were times
I would listen to these tunes being played by the Djs thinking, "You have no idea what you're playing or the connection with it". I never really danced again unless my friends played that tune and to the delight of old friends, and utter surprise of new ones who never knew I could dance,
I would bust some moves in homage to the great Richie Cole.
One night dancing my ass off, I was in a state of delirium and wanted to find out more about this Richie Cole character. To my surprise I actually found his telephone number and made a call. It was funny as hell for I was like: "Hey I am your number one fan". He was totally surprised to be receiving the call from so far. He told me that he was actually coming over to the U.K to play at "Selinas" in West London.
I came but for some reason "New York Afternoon" was not played that night. However, he played my request for "I love Lucy".
People do not seem to be into dancing as much nowadays. In those days people were serious about the art. Not long ago I was in the cafe of the Renoir Cinema in the West End, and heard Webster Lewis's "Barbara Ann" playing in the background. The old spirit in me was dancing, but within the ambience of the setting my feet were bound still.
As Morrissey alluded too, "it was not music to be sitting down sipping your cappuccino to!"