In 1977, as a kid, my Grandparents looked after an army barracks, I stayed there practically all the time. This gave me access to Pool Tables, dartboards, table tennis, a very high rope to climb, climbing frames, parallel bars, a huge drill hall and many other things I took practically for granted.
Another attraction of the army barracks was that once a month or so there would be what my Grandparents would call a do.
Essentially this would be a disco and I would as a 7-year-old kid watch bemused everyone from Cadets to Sgt. Majors and their respective wives, girlfriends and mates get drunk, dress invariably as teddy boys and dance. The huge drill hall with a ridiculously high ceiling would be the venue.
Of course I had almost no interest in music, but even then you could sense when they had booked a decent DJ. A decent DJ will tell little stories with the music and take you on a journey and feed off the vibe accordingly. The best DJ’s would use a huge army net (on the ceiling) to make the event more intimate.
Probably the biggest musical wake-up moment (for me) was when DJ’s would drop what was then very new Punk tracks. Teddy Boys looked annoyed and even as a small kid you sensed this was yours and not theirs. Also I can recall very clearly in the late 70’s a DJ dropping Geno (Dexy’s Midnight Runners). That was a track that ticked all the right boxes and another wake-up to music call.
Thinking about it now, that exposure to a wide range of music could be the reason why I am such a music nut even now.
Anyway. Lodged between a few Abba tracks and taking a break from running up and down the corridor or drinking Vimto with other kids I was in the drill hall when I first heard I Feel Love by Donna Summer in 1977.
I am no fan of Donna Summer so will not pretend to be one, but that record was a track out-of-time. I wouldn’t have danced. I would have probably been an obstacle on the dancefloor. With a mirrorball and full DJ light kit going (strobes, etc) the music actually made you feel high (it certainly wasn’t the Vimto). You felt the magic.
With refection I Feel Love is the most important dance record until Blue Monday. Fittingly it shot to Number 1 in the U.K. Singles chart (when the charts actually meant something). It still sounds ahead of time now.
I have never physically bought a Donna Summer record but when I first bought a MacBook and an iTunes card with the last bit of credit I bought, almost subconsciously, I Feel Love. It is a fantastic record.
I will not dwell on Donna Summer’s death. I know little about her but do know that when I heard the news my mind went back instantly to memories of that record at the disco and it making my mouth fall open. I’m sure a lot of people will tell a similar tale of respect…