Monday, April 03, 2023

Hand in hand in the rain

Posting another mix, this one in a more House-oriented direction again, featuring a combination of mine and my partner, Andrew's records. Also recorded this at the end of January, yet feels right for this time of year just as the season changes and the snow gives way to rain.

Also, a good time to post this now, since Andrew and I will be playing records again as INTERGEN
this coming Wednesday April 5th at our favourite listening bar The Little Jerry. If you're in the Toronto area, come by! As with the last time, some of the records here will end up in our collective bags. (Digital flyer and photo by Andrew Zealley)

All the records used in this mix

In lieu of track notes, I've put Discogs links to the individual tracks in the tracklist below... Enjoy!

Hand in hand in the rain (Download)


Mark E - I’m Your Eversion
Stefan Ringer - You Know
Javonntte - Walking In The Rain
Lipelis - Video Track
Psycho Weazel - Gomina (feat. Sandford)
Fallout - The Morning After
Cloud 9 - Do You Want Me Baby (Deep Dub
Linda Clifford - Whatcha Gonna Do (Jazzy Groove)
Patrice Scott - Better Days
Loure - Two Times Deep
Azura - Theme From Azura (Dream Version)
Arnold Jarvis - Take Some Time Out (Club)
Panoram - Seabrain (Quiet Village Remix)


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Disco Delivery Mix #11: Midnight Shift

Photo: Newsstand by Toby Old, 1999

Putting up another Disco mix I recorded back at the end of January. A combination of records I had recently acquired along with others from the recesses of my collection.

Going from light to dark, moonlight to sunshine, a little froth and a little funk, I thought the Donna Summer track "Working The Midnight Shift" (which appears at the middle of this mix) set the tone for things quite well.

A personal thing I've really enjoyed about doing these mixes (and playing them back) is how it's given me an opportunity to take records that I haven't played in a while and really make them part of my daily/regular listening.

Disco Delivery Mix #11: Midnight Shift (Download)

Tracklist and track notes below. Enjoy!


T.C. James & The Fist-O-Funk Orchestra - Bumpsies Whipping Cream (Savarese 12” Mix)
Nite School - Do You Speak French?
José Calvário - Lisboa à noite (Lisbon By Night)
Manu Dibango - Motapo
Trademark - Days Of Pearly Spencer
Chrisland - Angela, Angel
Donna Summer - Working The Midnight Shift
Theo Vaness - Sentimentally It’s You
Who’s Who - Palace Palace
The Stewart-Thomas Group - To Freak Or Not To Freak
The Red Stripe Band - Try Love
Billy Newton-Davis - Romance (Disco Remix)
Dusty Springfield - Baby Blue (Disco Version)
Nancy Wilson - Sunshine

All the records used in this mix

Track notes:

T.C. James & The Fist-O-Funk Orchestra - Bumpsies Whipping Cream (Savarese 12” Mix): A bit of a lascivious start to the mix, I first heard this song on the T.C. James & The Fist-O-Funk Orchestra album which was a lovely cheap find some years back. Was delighted to discover this lovely extended mix by Tom Savarese on 12". This was taken from the Canadian 12" which has Savarese mixes on both sides. A US promo has a Walter Gibbons Mix (not of this song) on the A-side, and has become well sought-after, going by its Discogs stats.

Nite School - Do You Speak French?: A little sexy "parlez-vous français?" instructional number with a lot of sprightly female vocals and swirly strings, which is always a winning combination with me! Belgians Jean Kluger and Ralph Benatar with American producer/engineer Galen Senogles appear to be the team behind this. Benatar with either Kluger or Senogles also had a hand in other disco goodies by Black Blood and LAX, among others. Senogles was also the engineer on a number of Rinder & Lewis projects on the AVI label.

José Calvário - Lisboa à noite (Lisbon By Night): A little something from an obscure album, The Best Disco In Sound from noted Portugese composer José Calvário, which happened to get a Canadian release back in the day. A lovely orchestral disco album which lands in the same lane as the records of Costandinos, side-long suites playing all the way through seamlessly.

Manu Dibango - Motapo: I had gotten Manu Dibango's 1978 album Sun Explosion for cheap a few years back at one of my local (and dearly departed) record haunts here in Toronto. For 4 tracks and a whopping $3, there were some lovely long Afro-disco goodies on here, this being one of them. In a sense, works in much the same way as the very euro-orchestral disco of the previous entry.

Trademark - Days Of Pearly Spencer: A favourite of mine, and one of the better covers of singer-songwriter David McWilliams' original from 1967, reportedly about a homeless person from the streets of Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Marc Almond would later successfully cover this in 1992 however, not surprisingly, I enjoy this disco version best. Even keeping the "telephoned in" vocal effect used in the original, there's an evocative melancholy here which which is not only retained but in my opinion, heightened in this disco translation.

Chrisland - Angela, Angel: Continuing on the disco noir of the previous track is this song by Chrisland, one of several monikers used by the French singer/producer Christian Girard. With lyrics like "it must have been the devil to have left those scars upon your arm," it's evidently a disco song about losing a loved one to the depths of heroin addiction. Unusual subject matter for disco to say the least, but one that I've long loved and wanted to place properly in a mix.

Donna Summer - Working The Midnight Shift: The namesake of this mix and the final entry in these disco chronicles of urban misery is perhaps one of my favourite Donna Summer songs, and in my opinion one of the best moments of her Once Upon A Time double album. The urging pulse of Giorgio Moroder's synthesized backing track perfectly evokes the sadness and desperation of the lyrics and Donna's yearning vocal. A little pitched up here for beat-matching purposes, but hopefully not to the song's detriment.

Theo Vaness - Sentimentally It’s You: Including yet another Theo Vaness track on this mix, one that I had retrieved from my collection in storage over the Christmas holidays. There are sections of the vocal and lyric that I'm not especially crazy about, however I decided to mix this in just before my favourite part of the track, when that great propulsive break kicks in. Taken from his Bad Bad Boy album, which has probably one of the more homoerotic disco album cover shots of the time.

Who’s Who - Palace Palace: Lifting things up a little is this nugget by Daniel Vangarde, French disco super-producer and father of Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter. Reportedly inspired by a night at a New York roller-disco where he was taken by the dancers skating with whistles and perhaps also an ode to the famed Parisian disco "Le Palace," this is undoubtedly one of my favourite things to come from the mind of Daniel Vangarde. Because Music recently released a lovely retrospective of his work on his Zagora label, which also includes this track. Nevertheless, was glad to find an original 12" late last year.

The Stewart-Thomas Group - To Freak Or Not To Freak: A pleasant little cheapie that I also came across late last year, this was a one-off single by Marvell Thomas, (brother of Rufus, Carla and Vaneese Thomas), and soul songwriter Randall Stewart. While I probably wouldn't call this the greatest thing I've bought for $2.99, it's certainly not without it's charms, and provides a nice little lift in the mix.

The Red Stripe Band - Try Love: I had heard this track out from time to time, wondering what it was. Finally found out when I saw it reissued on 7" late last year, which I ordered straight away. Originally recorded by it's songwriter Tony Wilson, founding member of the group Hot Chocolate, this is easily my favourite version of this song. As of this writing, original pressings of the 1981 single are going for over $300 US on Discogs.

Billy Newton-Davis - Romance (Disco Remix): A pleasantly surprising recent cheap find, likely the first single from Toronto-based singer Billy Newton-Davis. I recall in the early days of this blog, a reader emailing me about looking for a copy of this single. Never had any luck coming across it until late last year. Produced by a one Boh Tanasijczuk, (who only has this one credit to his name on Discogs) and mixed by Toronto Disco DJ Wally MacDonald, it may not have been as polished as some of Newton-Davis' later work, but it has an appealing groove that convinced me to take this home.

Dusty Springfield - Baby Blue (Disco Version): A non-album disco single from the late, great Dusty Springfield, I had long been taken by this song, so much so that I ended up buying a copy of the 12" on eBay late last year. Written by some British heavy-hitters - Bruce Woolley, with Geoff Downes and future super-producer Trevor Horn (both later in The Buggles), this is perhaps my favourite of Dusty's disco efforts. I remember being surprised to read that Dusty herself was more enthusiastic about performing and releasing disco in the late 70s than even many of her producers were, which perhaps explains why this was one of the few. Love the combination of her vocals over the sleek synth pulse and latin-tinged percussion here.

Nancy Wilson - Sunshine: Ending things on a mellower, jazz-funk tip here. Taken from Nancy Wilson's 1979 Love, Life & Harmony album, one of the last from her long run at Capitol Records. While this album had some disco-leaning tracks, this song, however, was not among them. Fully one of the sublime highlights of the album though and one of the best grooves she's put her inimitable vocal stylings to.


Monday, February 20, 2023

Sky House Mix - Parts 1 & 2

Fully activating my SoundCloud account and just uploaded a pair of mixes I made in the past month. Trying something different here, at least for me. Going in a more House-oriented direction with these. Mixed with a combination of mine and my partner Andrew's records.

Incidentally, if you're in the Toronto area, Andrew & I will be also be playing records as INTERGEN this coming Wednesday February 22nd at The Little Jerry. Some of the records in these mixes will surely make the cut!
(Digital flyer by Andrew, digital wigs by YouCam Makeup)

In lieu of track notes, I've put Discogs links to the individual tracks in the tracklists below... Enjoy!

Sky House Mix, Part 1 (Download)


Gavinco - West Horizon
Simoncino - Masonry
Materie - My Language (Dub)
Kai Alcé feat Rico + Kafele Bandele - Take A Chance (Mr. Fingers Full Ambient Acid Instrumental)
Superpitcher - Monks In The Sky
Kiwi - Schulze
Panthera - Bra
Palermo Disco Squad - After All These Tears
Paranoid London - (Vi-Vi) Vicious Games (with Josh Caffe)
DJ City - Luke
Genius of Time - Juno Jam
Hiroshi Matsui AKA Royal Mirrorball - (Earth In) Blue
Jovonn - Random
Kenny "Jammin’" Jason feat. Paris Grey - Don’t Want It (Club Mix)
Sample Minded - The Sound of Redness (Club Mix)

Sky House Mix, Part 2 (Download)


Will Long - Under-Currents (DJ Sprinkles Overdub)
Fort Romeau - Jack Rollin'
Daso - Meine
Levon Vincent - Untitled (Niresa EP - Side B)
Kuniyuki & Soichi Terada - Get Up
Kings of Tomorrow feat. Elzi Hall - Show Me
Talaboman - Samsa
Lord of the Isles - Together
Digital Justice - Theme From "It's All Gone Pearshaped"
Ragtyme - I Can’t Stay Away (Power-Pella)
Touch - Love Fixation (Vocal)


Sunday, January 08, 2023

Disco Delivery Mix #10: Night People Have More Fun

Photo: Potassa de la Fayette by Meryl Meisler, 1977

Starting off the new year with a new mix!

I usually visit family every year over the Christmas holidays, and while I'm there, I have the opportunity to dig for records in my own collection (the part that's in storage) and pick up some more at some of my old stomping grounds. This year, I thought it would be nice to make a mix of the records I brought back. I recorded a few different takes, but the first try (uploaded here) turned out to be the best.


Decided to add some track notes to this post, so first the tracklist, then the notes:


Electra - Feels Good (Carrots and Beets) (Instrumental)
Marzio - Phantom of the Opera
The New York Models - Hot For You (Extended Version)
Lime - Angel Eyes
Theo Vaness - Night People Have More Fun
Dynamic Superiors - Nowhere To Run
Cuba Gooding - Running Man
Laura Taylor - Some Love
Gladys Knight & The Pips - It's A Better Than Good Time (Walter Gibbons 12" Mix)
Patsy Gallant - Sugar Daddy
Sandy Mercer - You Are My Love (Walter Gibbons & Steve D'Aquisto 12" Mix)
Made In USA - Never Gonna Let You Go

All the records used in this mix

Track Notes:

Electra - Feels Good (Carrots and Beets) (Instrumental): I noticed this single had been reissued recently and given that, looked like originals were starting to get a little pricey. I swore I had a copy, but I couldn't seem to find it. As it turns out, I had it in Calgary in my boxes in storage. I need to give my copy a little cleaning, but it's no wonder this is in demand again - a lovely record landing right in the intersection of Italo-disco and US electro.

Marzio - Phantom of the Opera: I found this little Italo single - a US pressing, no less, for a cool $2 in Calgary back in 2006. This track is actually the B-side, which I honestly found much more interesting than the A-Side, "Volcano." Some off-kilter vocals from Marzio, but it has some of those lovely synth sounds and chords that I enjoy from this era of Italo Disco.

The New York Models - Hot For You (Extended Version): One of the many projects released by Bobby "O" back in the early 80s, I had recently obtained the Bordello A Parigi reissue of another New York Models single, "Love On Video." Originals of that were starting to go up in price and when I saw that I had this in storage (which is also getting similarly pricey), had to bring it back! Bobby "O"'s productions from this time can be on the formulaic side, but when they're as good as this, I can't resist.

Lime - Angel Eyes: Lime can be a bit of a mixed bag for me. Denis & Denyse LePage's productions are chock-full of interesting melodic hooks, production ideas and great synthwork, but there are times when the vocals put a damper on things. However, took out my copy of the Lime 3 album in storage and found it to be a great listen all the way through. This number shined brightly on the album, so it finds it's way here!

Theo Vaness - Night People Have More Fun: Entering the straight-ahead disco portion of this mix, the one Theo Van Es is another that has been a mixed bag for me in the past. Michaele, Paul and Lana Sebastian were some of the most consistent producers of disco and upon listening to his self-titled album, this track stood out. Sure, it's a little on the heteronormative side, lyrically. Either way, they'd redeem themselves elsewhere (see the heavy homo overtones on Vaness' second album cover), and this has some percussive hooks that stuck with me long enough to include it here.

Dynamic Superiors - Nowhere To Run: Motown seemed to be doing this sort of thing a lot by the late 70s, covering itself with increasing regularity. I suppose it was also good way to double-dip on some of that publishing $$. Once in a while though, some really interesting covers came out of this push, this being one of them. Two-thirds of Holland-Dozier-Holland are back producing a retread of the same song they did for Martha & The Vandellas in 1965 and it translates well to disco, I think. The instrumental breaks in the second half of the track are dynamite, especially the bass guitar towards the end, which I unfortunately mixed out of before it really got started, but you can still get a sense of where it goes. In any case, it convinced me to take their 1977 Give & Take album back with me.

Cuba Gooding - Running Man: Some more Motown disco, this time courtesy of Cuba Gooding (Sr.), on a little solo break from The Main Ingredient. While going through my record boxes, saw that I had a copy of his second solo LP, Love Dancer. Produced by label stalwart Michael L. Smith (AKA Michael Lovesmith) this was one of 2 or 3 nice disco goodies on there that convined me to take this back home with me.

Laura Taylor - Some Love: Laura Taylor's album, Dancin' In My Feet, had remained elusive for me for some time. Ended up finding it misfiled at one of my old record haunts in Calgary, so decided to buy it. Found it to be an unexpectedly solid, consistent album with Taylor herself credited as a writer on many of the songs, including this one, the opening track on the album.

Gladys Knight & The Pips - It's A Better Than Good Time (Walter Gibbons 12" Mix): I've opined at length on this track here in the past, though until now, original 12" copies had remained elusive for me. Have to say this is one of my most treasured finds over the holidays. This has been reissued, both on CD and 12" recently, which means originals probably aren't as sought after they once were, but it is still nice to finally have one in my possession (and at a good price).

Patsy Gallant - Sugar Daddy: I don't have a great deal of Patsy Gallant's records, though one certainly does come across them often while record shopping in Canada. Over the holidays though, found and bought a crisp, mint copy of her Besoin d'amour album which included this sweet, charming slice of Frenglish Can-Con Disco.

Sandy Mercer - You Are My Love (Walter Gibbons & Steve D'Aquisto 12" Mix): Despite the association with Walter Gibbons, this 12" isn't all that expensive. In fact you might even call this a dollar bin record. That being said, "You Are My Love," (the A-side on my Canadian pressing, but the B-Side on all the others) is my favourite of the two songs on this single, and features some sweet breaks which convinced me to take this one back home.

Made In USA - Never Gonna Let You Go: Pulled my copy out of storage and while taking a listen to the opening track, the culminating break sounded familiar to me. Turns out it was the basis for Theo Parrish's "Never Gonna Let U Go," which itself remains a peak hour favourite and one that I still hear out a fair bit. Hearing that was all the convincing I needed to take this back.

Also, if you're in the Toronto area, my partner and I have a ongoing night at The Little Jerry, which we call INTERGEN. We play back-to-back all night and our next installment (our fourth so far) is this coming Wednesday January 11th. My partner is older and brings newer records and as the younger partner, I bring the older records. In other words, he listens forward and I listen back. It all somehow balances out and gives us both a chance to weave some interesting sound dynamics over the course of an evening. If you're in the area, come by and say hi!


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Disco Delivery Mix #9: Guest Mix for Sunshine After Dark

Dusting off the blog to post a guest mix I did for John Huck (AKA Wijit) and his Disco show, Sunshine After Dark. Two years ago at the onset of the pandemic, I largely put any DJing to the side not really knowing what was waiting on the other side, however I've been starting to hit the decks and play records outside of the apartment again. Did my first public DJ gig in over two years recently at The Little Jerry, a lovely listening bar here in Toronto (check them out if you're ever in the Toronto area and want to hear great local selectors on a top sound system), so John's invitation came along at just the right time!

Thanks again to John for having me do this mix! Do check out his blog and Mixcloud where you can find out more information and listen to other past episodes.

Sunshine After Dark broadcasts online and on the radio out of CJSR 88.5 FM in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada every Thursday at 7 PM Mountain Time (0100 UTC), re-broadcasting Tuesdays on CKXU in Lethbridge, AB and Wednesdays on CHMA in Sackville, NB.

Note: The version on Mixcloud (and in the download link below) has an extra track at the end that was cut for time. Enjoy the mix!



Rick James & The Stone City Band - Get Up And Dance
The Earls - Get On Up And Dance (The Continental)
Sam-Jam - Dance And Chant
Pure Energy - When You're Dancin'
Herbie Hancock - Tell Everybody (Disco Version)
Roundtree - Hit On You (Remix)
Busta Jones - (Everybody's) Dancin' All Over The World
Blonde On Blonde - Whole Lotta Love
Angella Dean - World X
Donna Summer - Now I Need You
Kongas - Tatoo Woman


Friday, May 28, 2021

Vintage Articles:
Sean Lawrence's Discaire Column -
Kitchen Disco // Christopher Street - June 1979

Picking up where I left off a while back with some more transcriptions of Sean Lawrence’s short-lived Discaire columns in Christopher Street. The title of this second installment still feels appropriate, even 40 years later. Kitchen Disco - "the way one moves between the sofa and the dishwasher" has basically been the name of the game since the beginning of this pandemic.

Lawrence here has good words for Barry White’s The Message is Love, The Mighty Clouds of Joy and Linda Clifford; pans for Ashford & Simpson, Parlet, and especially the late Patrick Juvet’s Lady Night.

I’m not quite sharing the enthusiasm he has for Roberta Kelly’s gospel-disco album Feelin’ The Spirit (though “To My Father’s Houseis a standout on that one) and unlike Lawrence, I quite enjoyed Parlet’s Invasion of the Booty Snatchers (it’s lead track “Ridin’ High” is still a jam).

That being said, just like his earlier column, I'm enjoying the general position he writes from - in “the space between inspiration and camp,” as he so astutely puts it. His observation about disco and its relationship to nostalgia in the fifth paragraph is also spot on, in my view.

For now, enjoy this little time capsule..


Discaire: Kitchen Disco

by Sean Lawrence

Barry White makes me feel sorry for the emotionally poverty-stricken of the world. What can someone who has a hard time squeezing just a little feeling out in life do in the face of a man like this—a man whose songs, musically and lyrically, are as understated as the flowers at a Mafia funeral? Barry White doesn’t just sit down at a piano—he arrives at it in a limousine, articulate as an anniversary card, uvula climaxing, hands and heart a-pounding. The news is that his new album on CBS’s Unlimited Gold label (JZ 35763) is surprisingly likeable.

   The Message Is Love (was it ever anything else?) is full of the romanticism of the overbearing. The album’s most successful songs (that is, most likely to touch the feelings of us mere mortals) are the ones in which White is vocally somewhat laid back. For those who see White as instant camp there are Roy Lichtenstein-type moments of self-dramatization and pop sentimentality. A couple of the melodies sound downright experimental for the normally predictable BW, and a couple are danceable even if they don’t qualify as heavy disco.

   Another occasionally danceable album in the gray area of off-disco is Changing Times (Epic JE 35971) by Mighty Clouds of Joy. Ostensibly commercial gospel music, Changing Times is a stirring album of songs sung to God and his/her reps on earth that can be danced to and enjoyed by atheists everywhere. I suspect that nowadays most people listen to gospel songs and think about their lovers (conversely, many of us listen to Barry Manilow singing about lovers and think of God). Changing Times is sometimes-perfect apartment/kitchen disco (one doesn’t really dance at home; the way one moves between the sofa and the dishwasher while listening to albums like Changing Times never works at overheated discos like Studio 54). The pared, unsynthesized gospel ruggedness and ripe voices working up a sweat on this album will be a pleasure to anyone used to disco superproduction. Like Barry White’s album, Changing Times inhabits the space between inspiration and camp where so many of us dance and think these days.

   It’s hard to say what space Patrick Juvet occupies (he sang last summer’s popular “I Love America”). I think Juvet’s producers want us to know he’s French, the way Claudine Longet’s producers wanted us to know she was French. In fact, Juvet even sounds a little like Longet. And Tiny Tim. I must admit, I’m somewhat prejudiced against Juvet. I once caught him on the Merv Griffin show and would easily deem him to be one of the more obnoxious talk-show presences of late. His new album, Lady Night (Casablanca NBLP 7148) is worse, a truly contemptuous (if not cretinous) work of non-art. Produced by Jacques Morali with a monotonous metronome, Lady Night is one of the most tiresome and grating albums you may be forced to listen to at the discos this summer. Even the one song transparently directed at “our” scene (“The ‘Gay Paris’”) is a boring co-optation.

Had Linda Clifford’s new two-record set, Let Me Be Your Woman (RSO RS-2-3902) been a one-record set including only “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “It’s One of Those Songs,” each of which fills a side, the album would still have been a triumph. As head pompon girl in the hyper produced cheerleader arrangement of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Clifford seems almost as excited by life, love and show business as Barry White. Purists may say that discoizing this song is nothing short of sacrilege (in some ways disco treats the past with the same respect Punk Rock does), but I think it points out the schizzy nature of most disco rehashes—that is, the dancer divides his pleasure in two: the part he or she dances to at 120 thumps a minute and the evocation of the past the song reminds the dancer of. Disco is up to its neck in nostalgia; those who say that disco is mindless are simply out of touch with what disco is mindful of.

   And speaking of mindlessness and the past … recent disappointments include Ashford and Simpson’s “Flashback” single (Warner Bros. PRO-A-803), which at this moment is either in the hands of discaires or (as I suspect) in their wastebaskets. Ashford and Simpson have spent enough time in discos to know the beat better and the importance of innovation. “Flashback” is a bore. Equally disappointing is Parlet’s Invasion of the Booty Snatchers (Casablanca NBLP 7146), which sounds downright ugly.

On the brighter side, I am pleased to see the renewed interest in Roberta Kelly’s Gettin’ the Spirit (Casablanca NBLP 7089), which was released last year and somehow got buried commercially. “Oh Happy Day” was one of the five most nutritional songs to dance to at the Pines last August. Like some of the work of Donna Summer, Loleatta Holloway, and Grace Jones, Gettin’ the Spirit is a disco classic and deserves a second chance ■


vintage articles: sean lawrence’s discaire column: supply without demand // christopher street - may 1979 (sunday february 23, 2014)

wikipedia: barry white - the message is love (album)
discogs: barry white - the message is love lp
discogs: the mighty clouds of joy - changing times lp
discogs: patrick juvet - lady night lp
wikipedia: linda clifford - let me be your woman (album)
discogs: linda clifford - let me be your woman lp
discogs: ashford & simpson - flashback (promo 12” single)
wikipedia: parlet - invasion of the booty snatchers (album)
discogs: parlet - invasion of the booty snatchers lp


Monday, May 24, 2021

Vintage Articles:
Disco Advertisements from The Advocate //
August 13, 1975

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post on the advertisements in The Advocate's August 1975 Discos! issue. Wrapping up this series of posts from the Discos! issue, I thought it be a great way to not only display the ads for their visuals, but also for context. Most (but not all) of these are ads for bygone venues, a cursory search for many of them revealing some interesting details not only in terms of disco, but in the many localized queer histories that surround them. Many of these venues survived in spite of the many factors working against them: multiple arson attempts, sustained police harassment and widespread homophobia to name just a few. While some were perhaps more or less welcoming than others, some more above-board in their business practices than others, the sanctuary and celebration they helped provide, often at great personal risk to their proprietors were and are essential in building community, claiming space and the political power needed to sustain it.


Rows 1 & 2 (Full Page Advertisements):

1. Nickelodeon (141 Mason St., San Francisco, CA): This venue got a brief mention in Bob Kiggins' San Francisco Disco Scene column, as a place "where boys can be girls." Interesting as a document of burgeoning disco DJ culture for an establishment to feature their music and sound above anything else - "ALL SOUL, ALL DISCOTHEQUE," with the names and photos of their DJs - Allan Frost and Don Miley front and centre. Not sure how many other discos would employ Universal StudiosSensurround system (first used on the 1974 film Earthquake) but they made sure to include that in the ad too. Don Miley would go on to have credits as a writer and/or mixer on records coming out of, or connected to the San Francisco scene, like "Tell Everybody" and "Doin' It" by Herbie Hancock, and "Get The Feeling" by the Two Tons O' Fun. Miley also appears to have been one-time DJ and singer Frank Loverde's manager in the early 80s.

2. Bayou Landing
    (2020 Kipling, Houston, TX)
    (2609 North Pearl, Dallas, TX)
    (2110-B Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA)
    (1012 Sumner Avenue, Cleveland, OH): A chain of gay bars and discos in the US south and midwest ran by entrepreneur Dennis Sisk and business partner Tony Caterine that seems to have rose as quickly as it fell. Another half-page ad in the issue (see The Supremes Interview) advertises the opening of their newest Cleveland location. Some of it's branches became independent gay venues, like the one in Houston, which became The Old Plantation (probably not long after this ad was printed). Though one would question the inclusivity of a name like that today, The Old Plantation would spawn a mini-chain of its own. Dallas' D Magazine has a fascinating archived piece from 1979 called Lords of an Underground Empire which in part, details the rise of The Old Plantation(s) in both Dallas and Houston and the decline of Bayou Landing chain, with its founders, Sisk and Caterine ending the decade embroiled in drug and fraud charges.

3. Farmhouse (2710 Albany, Houston, TX): Dubbed "Houston's Number One Super-Bar," it doesn't seem to have been an exaggeration judging from the photo in the ad. Originally an orphanage called the DePelchin Faith Home, it became The Rams Club, a private elite supper club venue before becoming The Farmhouse. Showing just how perilous it could be owning a gay establishment at this time, The Farmhouse seems to have survived an arson the year before. It would be home to many different (and mostly gay) nightspots until 2001. Now a Texas historical landmark, it is currently a condo complex called Villa Serena.

4. Lost and Found (56 L Street S.E., Washington, DC)
    Pier 9 (1824 Half Street S.W., Washington DC): A full-page shared between two Washington D.C. venues, both owned by Bill Bickford and Don Culver. Established in 1970, Pier 9 was one of the first major gay disco venues in DC. It had a certain claim to fame early on for its telephone service between tables, an innovation designed to skirt restrictive local liquor laws. Located in a warehouse district right across from a power plant, its out-of-the-way location perhaps only bolstered its appeal. Most recently, it was the site of Ziegfield's/Secrets which only recently closed, with the site slated for demolition.
Less out of the way, Lost & Found opened a year after the Pier, however it came under fire shortly after due to controversy around its door policies, said to exclude black, female and drag customers. Lost & Found lasted until the 1990s and remained a queer venue for some time after. Today the site appears to have become a condo complex.

5. Ball Express (4025 Pacific Coast Highway, San Diego, CA): Housed in a former airplane hangar, the suggestively named Ball Express was apparently the first and biggest gay disco in San Diego and by various online accounts, the place to be in San Diego’s gay scene in the ‘70s. Gloria Gaynor, Eartha Kitt and Sylvester are all said to have played there. Ball Express is one of the establishments mentioned in the documentary about San Diego’s Gay Bar History aired by San Diego’s PBS affiliate, KPBS. The venue appears to have lasted from around 1974-1978, reportedly done-in as a result of “storm damage to the roof and slow weeknights.” See an amusing review from 1976 in the San Diego Reader calling it “a segregated in-spot” worth going to for “loosening screws in one’s perspective.”

6. Ad for The Dynamic Superiors' Pure Pleasure (1975, Motown): Led by the openly gay singer Tony Washington, they were undoubtedly one of the most progressive acts on Motown at the time. Much of their material (including the advertised album) was written and produced by Ashford & Simpson. Queer Music History has scans of some of their press from the time, including an interview With Washington from a later issue of The Advocate. Sadly, Washington is said to have succumbed to AIDS in the late 1980s, though there's little official confirmation or details, including from the current lineup's website.


Row 3 :

1. Catch One (4067 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA): One of the first black, gay discos in the US and one of the longest running, it is also the only venue advertised here to spawn its own finished documentary. Established in 1973 by Jewel Thais-Williams who saw an underserved market for gay women and queer people of colour like her who often faced discrimination in the larger West Hollywood gay venues. Directed by C. Fitz, the documentary Jewel's Catch One is not only about the disco, but Thais-Williams' work as community activist and healer and how integral "The Catch" was in her efforts. In 2015, Thais-Williams sold Catch One in order to focus on her non-profit, the Village Health Foundation, established next-door to the disco. Catch One is still open today under new management.

2. Man's Country (5015 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL): Established in 1973 by Chuck Renslow, a leading figure in Chicago's gay community and his partner, the artist Dom Orejudos, Man's Country was something of a legendary institution in Chicago. In business for 44 years, like many older bathhouses its profitability and upkeep had noticeably suffered in its waning years. At its peak, Man's Country was in the same league as other megaplex bathhouses of its time, which envisioned themselves as all-around entertainment venues. Its Music Hall, featured in this ad, was described in a Windy City Times article as its "crowning achievement." In an interview with The Advocate, Renslow's surviving partner, Ron Ehemann said "[i]f you were an entertainer trying to break into one of the bigger rooms downtown and they weren’t paying attention to you, you could play Man’s Country and the Tribune and Sun-Times would come here and review you.” Acts like The Village People, Grace Jones, Divine, Boy George and countless others would grace its stage. Attempts to sell the business in recent years were unsuccesful, eventually the property was sold and demolished. A condo development bearing Renslow's name was planned, however it appears those plans have since fell through.


Rows 4 & 5:

1. The Record Depot (1604 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, CA): A Record store that, judging from its ads and mentions elsewhere, was perhaps LA's premier record retailer, specializing in disco. A column in the February 12, 1977 issue of Billboard notes that Record Depot was even given an award from the Southern California Disco DJ Association. Interesting to note the popular disco acts which they list as well as the artwork, taken from The Pointer Sisters' Steppin’ LP. The site was home to recording and rehearsal studios until a recent re-development.

2. Our Den AKA Den One (1355 N. Wells, Chicago, IL): Located in Chicago's Old Town neighbourhood, which had at one time been Chicago's "gay ghetto," this is perhaps one of the most notable venues listed here. A gay venue catering to a mixed black and white clientele; for that alone, Den One appears to have been something of an anomaly in the Chicago scene. In 1977, 19 year-old House pioneer and legend Ron Hardy would establish his first DJ residency at Den One (see Jacob Arnold's excellent article about Ron Hardy's Den One residency at RBMA). At the time of this ad however, its DJ was Artie Feldman, a regular Chicago contributor to Vince Aletti's Disco File columns in Record World. By 1978, it would become Carol's Speakeasy, named after its owner Richard Farnham AKA Mother Carol. Its closure in 1991 appears to have been precipitated by its unfortunate connection to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, when it was found that Dahmer picked up one of his victims, 23 year-old Jeremiah Weinberger there. Even as the neighbourhood gentrified around it, 1355 N. Wells would remain abandoned until around 2016 or so, the last time the building appears on Google Street View. By 2017, the building appears to have been demolished.

3. Studio One (652 N. La Peer, West Hollywood, CA): Wrote much more about Studio One and its decidedly mixed legacy in my preamble to the Disco Scenes columns from this issue. What I find most intriguing about this ad however is the advertisement for Johnnie Ray's appearance there, likely at its popular cabaret venue, The Backlot. Someone I hadn't known of until I saw this ad, Johnnie Ray is an interesting figure in queer pop cultural history. Hearing impaired from a young age, Ray was something of a Rock & Roll pioneer, having come up playing black establishments like Detroit's Flame Show Bar, where he was known for his emotive, theatrical style. Though never 'out' in the quasi-official way we think of today, his queerness remains widely acknowledged. If nothing else, signature songs like "Cry" and "Hernando's Hideaway" certainly speak to decidedly queer themes and audiences. Battling alcoholism throughout much of his adult life, Johnnie Ray died of liver failure in 1990 at the age of 63.

4. Warehouse VIII (3604 S.W. 8th St., Miami, FL): According to an article from The South Florida Gay News, this was the centre of the action in Miami's gay bar scene in the mid 70s. True to its name, the venue was a former warehouse, which according to one description "boasted a huge dance floor, a Levi-leather bar in the back, a cruise bar upstairs, and a rooftop where anything could happen." When Miami-Dade County was the centre of Anita Bryant's anti-gay Save Our Children campaign, The Warehouse 8 became a major meeting place for activists (and target of homophobes). Owned by Bob Stickney, who also owned another, smaller gay venue in Miami called The Candlelight Club.

5. Marlin Beach Hotel (17 S. Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL): Built in 1952 and showcased in the Connie Francis vehicle Where The Boys Are, that early association would be nothing if not prescient. After a period of decline, by 1972 the hotel was revamped into America's "first explicitly gay resort hotel.” Surviving political backlash, not least from conservative mayors and power brokers, The Marlin Beach hotel remained a popular gay destination into the 1980s. It's Poop Deck disco was a major local venue, where DJs Bobby Viteritti and Robbie Leslie would preside. After failing to revamp the hotel into a "spring break" destination, the hotel was demolished in 1992, making way for what is now a shopping centre called The Gallery at Beach Place.

6. The Sun (400 West & South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT): Established in 1973 by former radio DJ, Joe Redburn, The Sun Tavern is said to have been the first disco in Utah and the premier gay bar in Salt Lake City for years. Reportedly inspired by a San Francisco venue called The Midnight Sun, Redburn would sell the venue in the 1990s and would open a gay country/western venue called The Trapp. Despite being lauded as the father of Utah's LGBT community, sadly Redburn died last year in a homeless shelter at the age of 82. A current Salt Lake City venue called The Sun Trapp exists in tribute to the venues he established.

7. Aristocrat Discotheques (7224 Hillside, Hollywood, CA): Jane Brinton's mobile discotheque business, possibly based out of her apartment at the time, judging from the address. See Christopher Stone's Hollywood Column for more on Brinton.

8. Club Casablanca (241 Madison Ave. at 38th St., New York, NY) On the ground floor of a hotel building, which is currently the Madison Avenue NH Collection Hotel. Not much is known about this venue, however, prior to a recent redevelopment the address was home to the Golden Food variety store.


Row 6:

1. Broadway Disco (7507 New Utrecht Ave., Brooklyn, NY): Not much known about this particular venue, though it is curious to see a bar in Brooklyn, far outside the gay ghetto (or Broadway, for that matter) advertised in The Advocate. Currently, an establishment called The El Toro Bar exists at this address today.

2. D.O.K. West (12889 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, CA): Touted in this ad as "Orange County's NOW Disco," DOK West was part of a hopping gay scene in Garden Grove City which dated back to 1964. For a brief period, gay bars in Garden Grove were said to have outnumbered even those in West Hollywood. Evidently its name was either a reference to DOK (De Odeon Kelder), a major gay venue in Amsterdam or The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy Of Kansas). According to the ONE Archives, DOK West appears to have lasted for 20 or so years, from approximately 1965, closing in either 1986 or 1989. Not surprisingly, DOK West and other venues in the area were frequent targets of police harassment.

3. Our Side (836 N. Highland, Hollywood, CA): Mostly cutting and pasting here from what I wrote in the previous post (Christopher Stone's interview with its DJ, A.J. Miller) - Formerly The Paradise Ballroom and before that, Dude City, both venues reportedly owned by notorious LA underworld figure Eddie Nash. No word on what was the case with it’s brief turn as Our Side, but apparently it was only known as such for a brief period, changing its name back to The Paradise Ballroom after its competition across the street, named The Other Side mysteriously burned down. The venue would also be known as 836 North for a period, eventually becoming Probe in 1978. Probe would last for a good 21 years before closing in 1999.


vintage articles: “get dancing” - aj: west coast’s gold-plated dj - by christopher stone // the advocate - august 13, 1975 (tuesday may 11, 2021)
vintage articles: cheap thrills, entertainment and escapism - by christopher stone // the advocate - august 13, 1975 (wednesday may 5, 2021)
vintage articles: wanna dance? get wrecked to the ass! - by vito russo // the advocate - august 13, 1975 (wednesday april 28, 2021)
vintage articles: exclusive supremes interview - by christopher stone // the advocate - august 13, 1975 (sunday march 21, 2021)


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