Monday, August 28, 2017

Glam, glitter boots and disco foot: It's the 70s !

The first discothèque to open was the Scotch Club in Aachen, Germany in 1959. The owner of a local dancehall refused to pay for live performers and used an amplified record player instead. Klaus Quirini became the first DJ when he commandeered the turntable and became master of ceremonies. His style was immediately popular and as DJ Heinrich, he organized other DJs into workers' union that made DJ an official (i.e. healthcare registered) profession. The first song Quirini played was Ein Schiff wird kommen by Lale Andersen.

The Scotch Club became a Mecca for young people but there was a dress code with bouncers refusing entrance to men not wearing a tie. By the time the first discos were opening in US and elsewhere there were 17 discos in Aachen. The Scotch-Club finally closed its doors in 1992.

By the late 60s and early 70s, high tech discothèques (discos) with light shows and glamorous settings replaced dance halls. Instead of dancing to live music played by cover artists night clubbers crammed into small licensed venues with a disc jockey (DJ) playing hifi vinyl records.

Jimmy Saville was considered the first DJ to use twin-turntables that played non-stop music.

Statuesque dancers (Go Go Dancers) needed to stand out as a focal point and were central to the layout of the dance floor. Elevated and caged the girls and boys, danced in a blaze of lights choreographing the latest dance moves.

The fashion for elevated or platform shoes also came to pass. The Cockney, Scottish football fan extraordinaire Rod Stewart had been a humble boot boy at Brentford Soccer Club long before he became gravel voiced lead singer of the post Mod band, Faces. Rod, unlike his musical chum (Sir) Elton John, wore platform shoes on stage to look tall and sexy.

Tiny Elton by contrast needed the extra leverage his boots gave him to reach the piano keys on his Steinway during live performances. Later Elton appeared in the film Tommy sporting the largest pair of DM boots ever seen.

In antiquity, Greek actors wore raised shoes to tower over their audience and the resulting swaggering gait was understood to send females into sexual ecstasy.

Platform shoes were first introduced in the Middle Ages and were worn by court ladies but the fashion was short lived and fell to the prerogative of the height challenged.

Paul Gadd (aka the disgraced Gary Glitter) was certainly the latter and used his glitter platforms to achieve the former. He was, in his heyday, an act to catch. His platforms were specially made for his feet and allowed him to achieve quite spectacular choreography during his live shows.

Young people began to dress in ambiguous ways, the style was called unisex. For the first time in hundreds of years’ men appeared in clothing modern society designated as female attire. The Thin White Duke aka David Bowie was certainly not stuck in the cupboard when it came to express his female side on stage. Ziggy (Stardust) definitely wore the boots and shoes to be seen in, in tights.

Whilst this was a zenith for excellent dance music, ironically the dance styles were remarkably bland. People did however, dance a lot and a common injury associated with "all-nighters" was a flat foot caused by ligamentous collapse. The condition was called "disco foot."

Then in 1977 something happened that put dance into disco and it was called Saturday Night Fever.

Reviewed 13/02/2016

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