Thrown out for kissing: A quaint guide to gay discos, 1978
08:09 am


gay rights


With the first gay and lesbian couples finally permitted to legally marry in the U.K. only a few weeks ago, it is kind of sad to run across the special guide to London clubs published by New Musical Express in 1978. The “Gay Scene” category was both transgressive for the times, but quaint, and included the private, prohibitively expensive Maunkberry’s, frequented by the music and entertainment elite, as well as the Bang Disco on Charing Cross Road (opened in 1976) at the top of the list, a “good mixture of gays and punks.” The category leads with the bummer of a caveat:

Habari! Habari! Hungry for play? Well, let love and joy abound on your London safari. But first a note to all you guys ‘n’ gals, cuties ‘n’ chickens, rent boys ‘n’ muscle men, leather lovers ‘n’ sock eaters: REMEMBER, British Law permits homosexual activity IN PRIVATE between two consenting adults of 21 and over. Any sexual contact in public is forbidden.

gay scene dir

Sabotage Times recently mentioned in a fascinating history of London’s gay clubs:

1976 was a groundbreaking year for the development of gay discos in London with the arrival of Bang: London’s first gay superclub. Held at The Sundowner on Charing Cross Road every Monday night, subsequently opening on Thursdays due to popularity, Bang had a 1000+ capacity; a good, loud sound-system; all the hot, new disco imports played by experienced DJ’s Gary London, Talullah and Norman Scott; and dramatic lighting effects operated by the venue’s very own lighting engineer.

As 1976 was the year of the first commercially available 12” single it was perfect timing for a night like Bang – improved audio quality and extended track length for a bigger and better dancing environment.

Below, a look at the Brixton Fairies, a much-needed support network and lifeline for British gays and lesbians in the ‘70s:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
‘60 Minutes’ supplies the establishment take on the disco craze, 1978
06:27 am


60 Minutes

60 Minutes
There’s a saying in the financial world, or at least there was when people still paid attention to weekly magazines, that once a company or sector makes the cover of Business Week, the time has come to dump the stock. If Business Week knows about it, the insiders’ advantage has dissipated and you have to find another curve to get ahead of. I felt a very similar feeling watching Dan Rather very, very seriously explain to the home viewer what this “disco” thing is all about.

The problem with the 60 Minutes approach is that it’s insufferably top-down—it’s really all about money, a topic that Rather mentions incessantly. We get Billboard‘s take on the matter; we see some complacent executives plot the can’t-miss release of a disco version of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (really?); we get a very cool and professional outfit recording a different single, Peter Brown’s “Dance With Me”; and so on.

This segment aired on April 23, 1978; keep in mind that just a year or two later, 60 Minutes was the highest-rated TV show in America—that is, the show with the greatest number of viewers, period. And it wasn’t like 60 Minutes had stormed out of nowhere, it was already an institution by that time. Rather does blandly inform the home viewer that “for a disco to be a disco, you need a very heavy bass beat” and that a “hook” is “an easily recognizable theme or musical phrase.” (Apparently nobody told poor Dan that it’s not “Moog” as in “moo” It’s “Moog” as in “vogue.”)

It’s difficult to imagine a halfway serious report on a subculture done this way today. What’s missing from the report is any vitality or verve; any mention of ethnic, racial, or sexual minorities or sex or drugs or class issues. Nobody ever breaks a sweat. You get a little footage from inside Studio 54, which is pretty interesting, and the studio sections aren’t without interest. (There’s no such thing as payola in the disco world, by the way.) The death knell of disco may have sounded towards the end of the segment, when we hear the aforementioned version of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” as the camera pans over a group of haggard swingers gyrating on a dance floor awash in dry ice.

The home viewer will have gleaned that someone made a lot of money, but otherwise won’t have a clue why anyone would ever be drawn to disco music.
Tuxedo Junction, “Chattanooga Choo Choo”:

Peter Brown, “Dance With Me”:

60 Minutes report on disco, April 23, 1978:

via Gothamist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Ethel Merman Disco Album’
11:15 am


Ethel Merman

The Ethel Merman Disco Album
In 1979 disco was at its peak—even if this particular group of baseball fans didn’t necessarily agree—and really, the only place for it to go was down. One canary in that coal mine was the release that year by A&M Records of The Ethel Merman Disco Album, a project that none other than the reflexively generous has termed “absurd.”

Not that they’re wrong. Merman was 71 years old at the time of the album’s release; while her willingness to bend with the youth trends is ultimately admirable, it was always going to be an uneasy fit. Merman’s vocals and the background disco noodling scarcely interact, which makes this all the more interesting as a curio. There was a time when vinyl collectors became frantic to get a copy of this LP, but the Internet seems to have calmed that down—you can now get a copy on eBay for $20.

“There’s No Business Like Show Business”

“Everything’s Coming Up Roses”

“I Get a Kick Out of You”

“I Got Rhythm”

There’s more of the same on YouTube, which I’m sure you don’t need my help to find.

In this clip, Ethel shows Leslie Uggams and Imogene Coca (whom she calls “an idiot”) a thing or two about the true meaning of Christmas on A Special Sesame Street Christmas, from 1978:

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Disco Sucks: Relive the madness of ‘Disco Demolition Night’ in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, 1979
06:55 am



Disco Sucks
On July 12, 1979, the schedule called for a twi-night doubleheader between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers took the first game 4-1 on the strength of a Tom Brookens triple in the second inning that drove home Jerry Morales for what would prove to be the winning run (boxscore). As it turned out, the second game never got played, resulting in a forfeit by the home White Sox and a sweep of the doubleheader for the Tigers.

Thing is, an anti-disco riot broke out in between the two games. A large collection of disco LPs was detonated in an explosion—this part was planned—but it tore a large hole in the outfield grass and eventually turned into a bonfire. The game was attended by many thousands of disco-hating baseball fans—actually a lot of them probably didn’t care much about baseball—a good percentage of whom would take the field during the insanity. It’s one of the most memorable promotions that baseball ever threw.

The director of promotions at that time was Mike Veeck, son of Bill Veeck, longtime owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and the White Sox. Bill Veeck was a genius deployer of gimmicks, including, when he owned the Browns, the stunt of hiring a midget named Eddie Gaedel to lead off a game in August 19, 1951, for a guaranteed base on balls. Mike’s decision to host a Disco Demolition Night would prove every bit as memorable.

Wikipedia supplies some background:

Chicago disc jockey Steve Dahl was fired from local radio station WDAI on Christmas Eve 1978 when the station switched formats from rock to disco. The 24-year-old DJ was subsequently hired by rival album-rock station WLUP, “The Loop.” Sensing an incipient anti-disco backlash and playing off the publicity surrounding his firing (Dahl frequently mocked WDAI’s “Disco DAI” slogan on the air as “Disco DIE”), Dahl created a mock organization called “The Insane Coho Lips,” an anti-disco army consisting of his listeners. According to Andy Behrens of ESPN, Dahl and his broadcast partner Garry Meier “organized the Cohos around a simple and surprisingly powerful idea: Disco Sucks.”

According to Wikipedia, the capacity of Comiskey Park at that time was only 44,492, yet estimates of the crowd that night range from 50,000 to 90,000. (As with the Beatles’ 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, the number of people who claim to have been in attendance is probably several hundred thousand by now.)

An air of menace permeated the first game:

Tigers outfielder Rusty Staub remembered that the records would slice through the air, and land sticking out of the ground. He urged teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions, “It wasn’t just one, it was many. Oh, God almighty, I’ve never seen anything so dangerous in my life.” ... Mike Veeck later remembered an odor of marijuana in the grandstand and said of the attendees, “This is the Woodstock they never had.”

Tigers outfielder Ron LeFlore said afterward, “It seemed like there was kegs in every aisle of the ballpark that night, you know, because everybody was drunk.”

Attendees would pay an admission fee of 98 cents (!) provided they brought at least one disco LP with them; Dahl would then destroy the pile of recordings in an explosion. (Many people got into the park without paying, however.) Dahl took the field in an army jeep wearing an army helmet to lead his anti-disco “army” and led the crowd in a rousing chant of “Disco Sucks!” “This is officially the world’s largest anti-disco rally!” cried Dahl to the crowd. And then things totally got out of hand.

The detonation scattered the broken album shards all over the outfield. Several thousand disco-haters took the field, some of them carrying banners with slogans like “LONG LIVE ROCK & ROLL.” The explosion quickly became a bonfire, and there was at least one similar fire in the upper deck of the stadium. Reportedly, 39 people were arrested (looking at the footage, that figure seems remarkably low).

Here’s a great little documentary from ESPN about the mayhem:

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Disco Doctor Who theme, 1978
05:50 pm

Pop Culture

Doctor Who

This is actually a lot better than you’re expecting it to be. It’s really kind of good.

Via Disko Akademin

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Kill For Love’: Chromatics glacial take on synth disco (and Neil Young)

How far would you go for love? Would you give up all your possessions? Renounce this world and all its cruelty? Would you die for love? Would you kill for love?

Kill For Love is the new album by Chromatics, a band from Portland, Orgeon led by the producer Johnny Jewel of Italians Do It Better renown. I’ve written about the Italians Do It Better label before, drawing a comparison between the IDIB roster’s sound, and the lo-fi, tripped-out, “haunted retro” aesthetic of acts like Ariel Pink and John Maus.

The Italians Do It Better sound is rooted very firmly in late 70s and early 80s disco music, particularly the more soundtrack-oriented work of Giorgio Moroder, Claudio Simonetti and Patrick Cowley. As those names would also suggest, Johnny Jewel (who produces practically everything on the label) LOVES the sound of analog synthesizers. Jewel was the original choice to compose the soundtrack to last year’s 80s-noir sleeper hit Drive, and with his trademark throbbing, moody sound, it’s not hard to see why.

Chromatics are one of Italians Do It Better’s flagship acts, and one of its most popular, so expectations for this new album are high (particularly as it was originally due for release in 2010.) Thank god then that it doesn’t disappoint. It goes without saying that there’s nothing radically new here, no re-invention of the wheel, but when a form and function are just so perfect, why would you want to reinvent them?

Having said that, there is less of a reliance on arpeggiated synth lines on Kill For Love as there has been on past Chromatics releases. Of all the IDIB acts, Chromatics seem most like a “real” band, in that they aren’t afraid to adopt the “traditional” band roles of bassist, guitarist and drummer. In fact, the addition of live electric guitar on a lot of Kill For Love is perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the album.

Still, that chilly John Carpenter-vibe is present and correct, like a sliver of ice through a beating heart, as are the hauntingly distant female vocals of singer Ruth Radelet. The opening cover of Neil Young’s “Into The Black” is simply stunning, one of the musical highlights of the year so far for me, and as an opener it sets up the rest of the album perfectly. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Jewel explained the rationale behind that particular cover version:

It was very, very intentional in terms of rock mythology. You can’t underestimate the power of the guitar for an American audience. It’s a really strong symbol—just everything the guitar and Western culture represent—and Chromatics is part of that fantasy. The Neil Young song was recorded in 2009, and I knew I wanted to open the album with it, for multiple reasons. Part of it was a challenge to us as beatmakers or mood-makers, to see if we could actually write songs that could stand up in a pop sense. Because if you cover a song like that, you’re biting off a lot. You can’t touch Neil Young, but I wanted to challenge us to go beyond the loop and think about songs more. 

The rest of that interview is well worth a read.

You can hear (and download) the Chromatics cover of “Into The Black” right here:

Here’s another free download from the album, the single “Kill For Love”:

And here’s the “Kill For Love” album in full:


For LOTS more great music, visit Johnny Jewel’s Soundcloud page.

To order Kill For Love, and for more info on Italians Do It Better, visit Viva Italians


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Real Gangstas Don’t Rap, They Boogie: Snoop Dogg’s surprising ‘Tekno Euro’  mixtape

Snoop portrait by Rodney Pike
Now here’s a turn up for the books: last weekend Snoop Dogg dropped a new mixtape via his Soundcloud page called “01 Tekno Euro Mixx”. That Snoop would put together a mix of European techno is in itself surprising—if he did actually mix it himself, and the lackadaisical style makes it seem plausible—but the real surprise here is, in fact, that the mix contains no European techno at all.

What we get instead is a mix of deep house, nu-disco and boogie/disco edits. Artists and remixers featured include Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Guy Monk, Miguel Migs, 6th Borough Project, Tensake, Crazy P and Michael Jackson (there is no official tracklisting yet.) None of which have much in common with the likes of Benni Benassi or David Guetta, and even less with Dr Dre or Timbaland.

While I wouldn’t have pegged Snoop as a Body & Soul-head, there is a common theme. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, when I was playing a lot of this kind of stuff (hit me up for some mixes, Snoop!), me and my dj friends liked to refer to this type of music as “stoner house”. That did away with slightly tired prefixes “deep” and “disco” while encapsulating the music in simple, understandable terms. This is house music at its most horizontal, yet it remains functional and deeply funky. Snoop gets it, and actually this mix ain’t half bad. Light one up, lie back and boogie:

  01 TEKNO EURO MIXX by Snoop Dogg
Thanks to Soundcloud commenter Alex Constantin for the title.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Larry Levan died 19 years ago today

In memory of the late great Paradise Garage dj here’s a mystery set that has turned up on Soundcloud and is credited to Levan from the early 80s. Uploader R_co hasn’t been able to locate a playlist, but he has found a list of (nearly) every song played during his run as resident at the Garage - that’s quite a lot of music if you care to have a look. The mixing on this set is a bit hit and miss, but the crowd audibly loves it and the drop into Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face” (from an excellent mystery track) at around 6 minutes in is heavenly:

  Larry Levan Live @ The Paradise Garage, New York (Early 80s) by R_co
Of course, Levan was more than just a dj - he was a remixer of no small talent, and some of his remixes are guaranteed dance floor fillers more than 30 years after their release (such as the previously mentioned Loose Joints track, one of my desert island discs). As a special bonus, here’s Levan’s first ever remix, which he mixed as a try-out for the Sesame Street disco album project, and which remained unreleased for almost 30 years:

Cookie Monster & The Girls “C Is For Cookie (Larry Levan Special Version Funky Disco Mix)”:

Thanks to Tara McGinley
After the jump more of Larry Levan’s best remixes, including the Joubert Singers, Grace Jones, Gwen Guthrie and more…

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
A piece of Paradise: Larry Levan mixing live at the Paradise Garage in 1979
‘Maestro’ - a film about the Paradise Garage and the birth of Disco culture

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Disco Argento 2: The Sequel’ - even MORE Disco-Horror madness!

So buzzed was I by the reaction to my first Disco Argento mix (downloads maxed out on Soundcloud* - thanks guys!) that I decided to go digging through the vault of horror/disco cash-in records yet again to put together a follow-up. And so I give you… Disco Argento 2: The Sequel! As with most sequels, it feeds heavily off the original’s success while boldly pushing the concept into uncharted waters (the 1980s). I feel as if this time I got to truly express my vision, though it could be argued that I am over-indulging myself (twelve minutes of Pat Hodges?!).

I’m pretty chuffed to be able to put a few real gems on this mix - tracks like Stelvio Cipriani’s theme for Tentacles (actually called “Too Risky A Day For A Regatta”), Riz Ortolani’s energetic jazz-funk workout “Drinking Coco” from Cannibal Holocaust and the simply divine “New York One More Day” by Franisco DiMasi from the score for Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper (possibly the only passable excuse for that super sleazy film to exist). What is with these Italians and their fabulous soundtracks? It’s also the second appearance of the day for DM pal Matt Berry, heard here in his Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace guise as Todd Rivers, with an electrifying remix of his ode to thwarted passion “One Track Lover”. Here’s the tracklist in full:

GOBLIN Tenebre
FABIO FRIZZI Zombi 2 (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters)
FRANCISCO DI MASI New York One More Day (Disco Beard edit)
ROBERT RODRIGUEZ Police Station Assault
RIZ ORTOLANI Il Corpo Di Linda
TODD RIVERS One Track Lover (Synthia Remix)
FAT BOYS Are You Ready For Freddy?
FRANCIS HAINES The Trioxin Theme (aka Return Of The Living Dead Theme)
JOHN CARPENTER & ALAN HOWARTH The Duke Arrives/Barricade/Snake dialog
PAT HODGES Fly By Night (Midnight Mix)
RIZ ORTOLANI Drinking Coco
STELVIO CIPRIANI Tentacoli (aka Tentacles)
THE CHAMP’S BOYS ORCHESTRA Tubular Bells (Cosmic Mix)

  Disco Argento 2: The Sequel! by theniallist
An excellent trailer re-edit by Orgasmo Sonore of Stelvio Cipriani’s Tentacoli:

*You can now download Disco Argento Vol 1 here:

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Disco Argento’ - a horror theme disco versions cash-in mix

‘Tis the season, and all that jazz. Halloween is my favourite time of year, so to help people get into an undead festive mood here’s the first of a couple of spookalicious mixes I will be sharing over the next few days. First up it’s my Disco Argento mix, a compilation of late 70s and early 80s horror movie-inspired discomania put together for Glasgow’s Menergy club. It features dancefloor versions of the themes from Phantasm, Friday the 13th, Dawn Of The Dead, Amittyville and Demons, some score tracks and a few soul horror cash-ins. It also comes with a rather snazzy (and exclusive) Thriller-inspired sleeve by top comic artist Frank Quitely too. Here’s the full tracklist:
Halloween II - John Carpenter
Cannibal Ferox - Fabio Frizzi
Zombi - Goblin
Amityville Frenzy - Lalo Schiffrin
Prom Night Theme - Zaza & Zitter
Phantasm - Captain Zorro
Phantasmagoria / Silver Sphere Disco - Fred Myrow & Malcolm Seagrave
NYC Theme - Budy-Maglione
Demons (Disco Beard Edit) - Claudio Simonetti
Friday The 13th Part III - Manfredini & Zager
Lust - Rinder & Lewis
Doin’ It In A Haunted House - Yvonne Cage
Disco Blood - The Vamps
Soul Dracula - Hot Blood

  THE NIALLIST Disco Argento Mix by Menergy Mixes
The download limit for Disco Argento has been reached on Soundcloud - but you can also download the mix from this link:

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
A Piece of Paradise: Larry Levan mixing live at the Paradise Garage in 1979

This is some serious disco history right here! A recording has recently surfaced of DJ Larry Levan mixing live from the 1979 2nd birthday party of the legendary New York night spot the Paradise Garage. The 4 hour set was broadcast live on NY’s WBLS station (hence the occasional MC commentary from the recognisable voice of Frankie Crocker) and was taped off the radio by producer Lenny Fontana as a kid. He had the foresight to transfer the original tapes to DAT in 1990, and to put the mix away into storage.

Recently unearthed by the BBC’s Eddy Gordon, who has described the tapes as “broadcasting gold”, the set was broadcast on BBC Radio 6 as part of a “A Taste Of Paradise” season, which ran over a series of nights and featured interviews with some of the key players in the Garage’s history. Props to the folks at the Irish disco website, who have uploaded all the interviews to their site - these are worth checking out too as they are fun and informative, and have some cracking underground disco soundbeds.

But the main attraction is Levan’s dj set itself. For many people like me, whose number one time travel destination would be the Garage at its late 70s/early 80s peak, this is as close as we’re ever going to get. You can really feel the party atmosphere in the broadcast - which opens with live PAs from Loleatta Holloway, Dan Hartman AND Sylvester, reason enough to be excited - and Larry’s selection is damn near flawless. Sure, the mixing could be tighter, but this is 1979 fer Chrissakes - just check the massive booming bass on some of these tracks! Obviously dub was an influence, as was the Garage’s legendary PA. If you’re not dancing by the time Tribe’s “Koke” kicks in (arf) at 2:49:10 - straight after Candido’s club classic “Jingo” - then you’re most probably dead.

Here’s the set, as hosted on Underground NYC - skip straight to 01:11:00 for the the broadcast to begin, and 01:52:00 for Levan to take over:


Just to make clear, this is NOT the set released on CD by Strut in 2000. 

Previously on DM:
‘Maestro’: a film about the Paradise Garage and the birth of disco culture
The last ever set from the legendary NY nightclub The Saint

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The last ever Dj set from the legendary NY nightclub The Saint

Robert Mapplethorpe image for The Saint’s “Black Party” 1981 via OrangeMercury.

Thanks to Tony Dunne for the sterling work on this - stitching together various tapes to create a four-and-a-half-hour continuous mix of the DJ Warren Gluck from the closing night of the legendary New York nightclub The Saint in 1988. Tony says:

“There may be slight differences from the originals because of the tape endings. Sound quality could of course be better but the recording was taken from cassette tapes.”

The Saint was a members-only gay club opened in 1980 by New York club owner Bruce Mailman (St Mark’s Baths), and the architect Charles Terrell. It gained legendary status almost immediately, due in no small part to the huge planetarium-style dome over the dancefloor (which hosted massive light shows and also served to hide and amplify the club’s sound system) as well as the notoriously permissive attitude to sex in the club, in the upstairs areas and at special events like “The Black Party”. Unsurprisingly the AIDS epidemic decimated the club’s clientele, leading to its closure in May 1988 (a year after both Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage). The Saint never received the acclaim for its music in the same way the Garage did, despite mixes like this proving it was just as excellent (the music may have been different but gays were raving long before acid house). University of East London lecturer, disco historian and author Tim Lawrence sums it up in his thesis “The Forging of a White Gay Aesthetic at the Saint, 1980-84” (a must read for fans of disco, gay history and New York nightlife):

...whereas historians of dance culture have hailed the Garage’s Larry Levan to be the most influential DJ in the city during the 1980s, the shifting roster of selectors who worked at the Saint have merited barely a single mention—an unlikely scenario given that privileged white groups often receive more attention than disadvantaged subaltern groups. Based on numerous interviews with key protagonists, documentary material held in the Saint’s archive and recordings of DJ sets from the Saint, this article redresses the imbalance by outlining the contributions of Jim Burgess, Alan Dodd and Roy Thode, the Saint’s principal DJs during the opening 1980–81 season, as well as Shaun Buchanan, George Cadenas, Michael Fierman, Michael Jorba, Robbie Leslie, Howard Merritt, Chuck Parsons, Terry Sherman and Sharon White… their collective impact was considerable, even if their very collectivity also meant that each was ultimately disposable.

For more information on the history of The Saint, and the ongoing “Saint At Large” reunion parties, visit Saint At But for now lose yourself in Warren Gluck’s awesome final dj set at the club:

  The Saint Closing Party - Warren Gluck continuous mix by Tony Dunne

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Get Ssion’s new album ‘Bent’ free for a month

Meet Ssion, the gender bending electro-punk dance band from Kansas City, led by front person Cody Critcheloe. Is Cody a man or a woman? I’m not completely sure, but it’s not important - s/he can be whatever you want hir to be. And as with other current queer artists like JD Samson, Cody likes to play with people’s traditional perceptions of style and beauty - witness the trademark combo monobrow and mustache, a pretty risqué fashion move in these anti-hair-biased times

Ssion (pronounced “shun”) are a full on audio/visual/performance-troupe well known for their live shows and support slots for the likes of Gossip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Critcheloe has been making a respectable career as a video director on the side, working with Peaches, Liars and Scream Club. Ssion formed in Kansas in 1996 and released their first material in 2003. The band released their last album Fools Gold in 2007 and with it the full length feature film Boy which compiled all their music videos and has been described as a “gay, punk rock equivalent of Forest Gump.” Ssion have taken the step of releasing their new album Bent as a free download for a limited time, and it’s definitely worth downloading. As with Tyler the Creator’s first album Bastard, it’s surprising to hear music released for free that is of this high quality.

Make no mistake though - Bent is pop music. It’s party music, it’s designed for dancing - for those moments at a friend’s house when the sun is coming up, you’ve had a ball, but you’ve got that melancholic feeling that to quit now as it’s can’t get any better. There are shades of very early Madonna here, coupled with the classic mid-80s synth driven sound of the Pet Shop Boys and Eurodisco, all refracted through early 90s NY dance pop like Deee-Lite. Bent is basically the album the Scissor Sisters should have made by now, classy dance music stripped of the chintz (and Elton bloody John references) and honed to a sharp electro-pop point. It’s pretty damn good. So my advice to you dear readers is to let a little bit of Ssion into your life - get Bent.

Ssion - “Clown”

Ssion - “Psy-Chic”

Ssion - “Luvvbazaar”

Ssion - “Credit In The Straight World” Excellent cover of


Young Marble Giants.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Romy Haag: David Bowie’s transsexual muse

Glamorous Romy Haag is one of the most famous transsexuals in Europe and a cabaret performer of some renown. She is also well-known as a former lover and muse of David Bowie during his Berlin years (and indeed was the apparent reason for his move to the city in 1976). Her influence on his work is clearly evident in his “Boys Keep Swinging” video, where Bowie appears in triplicate as a chorus of drag queens.

Haag was born in 1951 and early in her life, the issue of gender reassignment was discussed. She developed breasts naturally. Haag left her home at the age of 13, working as a clown, then a trapeze artist with the Circus Strassburger before becoming a female impersonator in Paris. At this time, Haag began living as a woman.

In 1974, she opened what would become Germany’s most popular nightclub during the disco-era at the age of 23, “Chez Romy Haag.” Celebrity guests included Bowie and Iggy Pop, who were regulars, Bryan Ferry, Freddie Mercury and Lou Reed. Mick Jagger was another patron and had a brief affair with Haag.

Haag began her musical career in 1977. In 1983, when she was in her 30s she had a sex change and in 1999, published an autobiography with the great title, A Woman And Then Some. She’s still an honored performer and going strong at the age of 60. Follow Romy Haag on Twitter.

Below, Romy Haag discusses her relationship with David Bowie.

Romy Haag in 1978 performing her disco single “Superparadise” on the Musikladen TV show. Compare this to “Boys Keep Swinging.” He was basically just copping her act!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Maestro’ - a film about the Paradise Garage and the birth of Disco culture

Keith Haring’s portrait of the DJ Larry Levan
In the history of popular music, disco and dance culture generally get a raw deal when it comes to talking about of social change. Sure, some massive changes happened in the Sixties, but to paraphrase Nile Rodgers, the Seventies was when people started to enjoy their new social freedoms. It was an age that saw huge breakdowns of race, class, sexual and social boundaries that were not just confined to small social groups, and much of this was down to the disco and party scenes.

Maestro, a 2002 documentary by the director Josell Ramos, tells the story of the legendary New York club the Paradise Garage, and its equally legendary resident DJ Larry Levan. Levan is often cited as being the best DJ of all time, particularly by some of the most popular DJs in the world, and the music he played at his club spawned a whole genre named in its honour. The Garage’s cultural and musical legacy has been global, influencing some of the world’s best known nightspots, but Maestro is also careful to explain where the roots of the club and the world that developed around it lay - in the seminal underground New York nightspots of the very late Sixties and early 70s.,

Levan in the DJ booth at the Paradise Garage
Many of the characters still left standing from the era are interviewed in the film. Among these is David Mancuso, whose own private loft parties in his living space kick-started the serious dancing scene and gave birth to the modern idea of clubbing..There is the late Francis Grasso, the first man to ever mix two records back in the late 60s at the Sanctuary; Nicky Siano, who in 1972 and still a teenager opened the night spot the Gallery; Frankie Knuckles of Chicago’s Warehouse (the birthplace of garage music’s broodier twin house), reminiscences on his close childhood friend Levan with stories that are both funny and sad. Most movingly of all respected DJ and remixer Francois Kevorkian remembers how the AIDS epidemic swept through his social circle killing many of his friends and decimating the party scene.

The Paradise Garage was a true melting pot where black, white, gay, straight, male, female, old and young mixed, got high, danced, and had sex. The footage of the Garage, the Sanctuary and the Loft in Maestro is great, and really makes you want to grab a time machine to visit these incredible parties. While this film is flawed, it’s good to have the story of this era told from the perspective of the people who were there and helped shape it. Oh, and needless to say, the music is FANTASTIC:

The rest of Maestro, after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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