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 bêtes 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.
Merry Christmas, everyone!