In the absence of any “home alone” time in which to construct my usual one-hour speech-and-music podcasts, I thought I’d run with something a little different for the next three weeks – so here’s the first of three CD-length megamixes, in which I conjure up a somewhat idealised approximation of gay nightlife in the 1980s. (All effective Retro is necessarily based on idealised approximations; how else are you going to get caught up in nostalgia for a Vanished Golden Age?)
Imagine, if you will, a rather down-at-heel, scuffed-around-the-edges backstreet disco, whose glory days are well behind it, somewhere between the summers of ’82 and ’89. Think dusty smoked glass, scratched chrome, and tough glittered surfaces, grown dull with age. There are etched Southern Comfort mirrors in the bar area, next to the signed framed photos of The Dooleys, Su Pollard, and Errol Brown from Hot Chocolate. There are still some Saturday Night Fever flashing coloured squares on the dancefloor, but half the bulbs went yonks ago. It’s probably called Arabella’s, or Fifth Avenue, or Crème De La Crème. In six months’ time, it will be shut for good – but for now, it’s mostly kept going by its Thursday nights, which have become something of a word-of-mouth hit.
With xeroxed flyers put together by a couple of design students, and the city’s resident Leigh Bowery wannabe manning the decks, Trash Boudoir is bringing in a healthy mixture of students, fashion victims, radical dykes, gobby working class queens, badge-wearing activists who “hate the commercial scene”, nice friendly middle class straights, and that pair of clones who turn up every week, whirling their fans around in the corner. i-D magazine gave the place a 100-word mention a couple of months ago, and one of S-Express’s backing singers was seen down there only last week.
In Part One, we focus on the sort of stuff you might hear earlier on: the warm-up set, to build you up for the pounding BPMs that lie ahead. So splash on your Kouros, grab your bottle of warm Sol with the little wedge of lime, straighten your bandana, check your cycling shorts for wrinkles, unscrew the Liquid Gold… and step back in time.