Home > Chapters > 10a – Across The Crowded Disco Room

10a – Across The Crowded Disco Room

Life as a 6th Former, in my last year of general education, was an idyllic existence, spoilt only by the occasional lesson and an overdose of Jeff Wayne. But it proved to be one of the most memorable periods of my teenage years.
Having passed only four of the eight ‘O’ Levels I had sat back in Woking, it was deemed necessary to resit three of them at school in Germany. The main cause of this decision was my failure in Mathematics. Being one of the three ‘R’s I couldn’t not finish my schooling without an acceptable grade and this meant a C or above. The ‘E’ that I had received earlier would simply not do. So my main focus was set on Maths, with Art and German as secondary subjects. With only three subjects in which to have lessons, I had a lot of free time which was spent in the 6th Form Common Room.

And it was quite a room. Comfy chairs around the walls, tables for resting your arms, or head on and a record player. The atmosphere was invariably nicotine flavoured smog and there was usually a minimum of three or four students there at any one time, actively being common. Of the three or four, two would always be Ozzie and Linda. No matter the day or the time, if you went to the common room you could more or less guarantee that Ozzie and Linda would be there, in the corner, canoodling. I don’t think they actually did any lessons. In fact, they seemed to be considerably older than the rest of us. I was only sixteen and not very mature in many ways, but those two seemed to be in their twenties at the least and in retrospect I suspect they were just hiding out, escapees from the reality of adult life. So I just left them to it and got on with my strange new life of little lessons and copious commonness.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead in am Osthof in Dülmen, social life was looking up. The gods had looked down and taken pity on me. Back in Guildford I had gone to an all boys school and had lived in a secluded cul-de-sac, away from the maddening crowd, where there were only seven other families in residence. I obviously knew what a girl was, I just didn’t actually realise how many there were. Until I got to Germany. Now I was surrounded by them almost to the extent I couldn’t go anywhere without bumping into one or more of them. They were everywhere, from living next door and across the road to round the corner and down the street. Hells belles, my sister even brought them home! And to top it all, every Friday night, we were herded onto base to attend the weekly Youth Club D.I.S.C.O. where I could dance with them. The gods were indeed smiling at me. Although I think I heard the occasional snicker as well because, as the old adage about horses and water springs to mind, I still didn’t really have a clue what to do with them!

The weekly disco was, without a doubt, the most fun we had all week. It was a proper disco set up, coloured flashing lights, strobe, swirling bubble effect on the ceiling and walls, huge speakers and all topped off with a twin deck record layer with a slider button for fading one song out and another in whilst talking over it with a microphone.. But the best part was that it was left to us, the youths, to operate it all and to keep the place rocking and jiving. Which we did quite admirably. The Club possessed its own collection of 7” singles of which there were ample to choose from. Barry, the YC leader (and father of the girl next door) used to grab every single in the top 40 whenever he went back to the UK on leave. So, while our play list was finite, it was certainly extensive.

I’ve had to resort to asking for help with remembering some of the catalogue. Still being in touch with several friends from that time helps and they have come up with many songs that I’d forgotten. What follows is a small cross section of the music that was popular at the top of the Seventies. This is what we bored teenagers gyrated and smooched and rocked and rolled and jived and boogied and danced and bumped and grinded to.. Amy Stewart Knock On Wood, Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive, Chic Le Freak, Edwin Starr Contact, Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive, M Pop Muzik, Donna Summer Hot Stuff, Patrick Hernandez Born To Be Alive, Anita Ward Ring My Bell, City Boy 5-7-0-5, Dan Hartman Instant Replay, Boney M Rivers of Babylon, Brown Girl In The Ring, Kenny The Bump, Village People YMCA, In The Navy, Songs from Grease,  Golden Earring Radar Love and of course, a multitude of Status Quo songs. The list goes on and on for many more, too many for here, but thanks to Paul, Donna, Pam, Jo and Barry for your memories.

The Youth Club was obviously not the be all and end all of our disco experiences. There were other venues, other opportunities. One daring alternative for those old enough was the German disco in town. After much brain racking it’s been decided it was called the Tenne, pronounced ‘tenner’. This was a place where trouble could find you and where many of us ‘youths’ rarely went. What the YC did was to instil in us all an inherent urge to dance and have fun. The urge certainly never left me. I’ll get up and boogie to anything these days…I’ve always had the rhythm and I’ll never lose it. And if I keep telling myself that, then I’ll eventually believe it, just like everyone else. The late Seventies produced so much good music that was enjoyable disco-dancing sounds back then, but still invokes involuntary foot-tapping and muscle-twitching  today.


Categories: Chapters
  1. midaevalmaiden
    June 21, 2011 at 16:48

    I got a kick out of your phrase, “…three or four students there at any one time, actively being common.” LoL

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