Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas and the Rite of Disco

There comes a time in most people’s lives when life catches up with them and they are willingly or otherwise, exposed to the social event that is the disco and more specifically, the Christmas Disco.  Generally this occurs around the teenage years and beyond where a large number of participants are squeezed into a very small space for the purpose of dancing or shouting at each other over the din.  Schools, higher education establishments and nightclubs are all responsible for this rite of passage and whether you are the life-and-soul or wallflower, the experience does tend to alter your perception of humanity, but for better or worse?

But it is not the outcome that interests me here, but the din.  Dependent on your age, and I shan’t ask, there are always a few tunes that seem to haunt you through the years – those hits that were so prevalent at discos that the very thought of them now makes you shudder with long suppressed memories.  Of course there is always ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ but this doesn’t count as it has been a juvenile disco staple for so long that nobody bothers about it anymore.

No, it is the ones like the Eagles’ ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ that are one of my bĂȘtes noirs.  It was EVERYWHERE during my non-dancing years and didn’t I just hate it.  It put me off The Eagles for several decades.  Another season ticket holder was Steve Harley’s ‘Make Me Smile’ which even today brings back that slight eye twitch that I’d thought I’d finally got rid of.  What is it about these tunes – and I’m sure you can supply your own list - that provokes such a reaction, years after the event?  Is it the thought of your younger, gaucher and generally less assured self trying to grapple with life after one too many vodkas or is it something deeper?

For me it was certainly the above but also it was because I loved music and somehow the environment of the disco always seemed to degrade it and make it nothing more than background noise or worse, the soundtrack to someone else’s mating ritual.  Nothing will erase the memory of the isolation of the partner-less last dance and for this, 10cc has much to answer for.  I realise that this is a very esoteric stance to take as all through history, music has been specifically composed for the express purpose of dancing (Minuet anyone?) and to complain about it now is a bit churlish but nevertheless that is still how I feel about it.

Which is why you will always find me at a concert rather than a nightclub.  It became clear to me very early on that discos are for those who enjoy dancing and who need not be music lovers at all.  In fact, they were frauds.  ‘Make me Smile’ indeed.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Kit Courteney said...

Oh, such familiarity of feeling: the partner-less last dance - although I don't recognise the songs you mention, I must admit.

The song that made me feel that way was 'Wishing on a Star' (the DJ's favourite). I don't know who sang it. I've tried to block it out. Some b*tch with a high-pitched voice who no doubt had several boyfriends on the go while I had none!


Not much.

Enjoy your Christmas, Martin :)

music obsessive said...

Kit - I think you probably mean Rose Royce. I didn't like her much either but frankly would've taken anybody at that point, high pitched voice or no!

Try not to think about her over Christmas!

Adrian said...

Happy New Year, Martin - to you and yours!! And, best of 2012 to all here :)

Here's to happiness and good health over the year to come!!

May it be glittering in the discos of your mind!!

music obsessive said...

Thank you, Adrian. And best wishes for 2012 to you too!

Let's hope the music lives up to expectations!

Adrian said...

Aye! May the pies be deep and satisfying :)

Jayne said...

Happy New Year! Hope you and your family had a lovely time, and that 2012 is magical.

So you are asking for Christmas disco songs we hated? Hm. I didn't hate this song but I do remember the one where everyone sat down and banged the floor. (Oops Upside Your Head.) If that had come out now (and the equiv was James, Sit Down) then I wouldn't have been fond of it at all as dance floors are all sticky, but when Oops was out I was little so just found it incredibly funny.

music obsessive said...

Ooh...that would be the Gap Band then. Yeah, hated that as well, sticky floor or no.

Happy New Year, Jayne, you know the one where you become a 'writer'.