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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Disco, Soho Part 2

Whenever I hear its unmistakable opening bars, Van McCoy's 70's classic, The Hustle, still thrills me to the core.  The Whispers; The Chi-Lites; George McRae; Teddy Pendergrass; The Hues Corporation: such was the daily diet of a kid who dreamed of strutting Manhattan's hottest light-up dance floors. It was a dream that would come true. "Welcome to Studio 54. Enjoy!" said owner Steve Rubell plucking a wide-eyed Scottish innocent, not yet old enough to drink legally, from the frenzied hordes besieging the doors to the world's best night club... EVER. Fast forward to 2013. If you are going to open a London club that aims to recreate NYC's glory days (i.e circa Shalamar), as Charlie  Gilkes has, expect me to be your pickiest critic. Accomplished Hustler; ex-DJ; Fire Island tea dance regular: I'm an authority on all things DISCO. Well, perhaps not quite all things. What was consumed in 54's VIP room, vintage Dom P aside, never really interested me. Evelyn King's Shame was all I needed to get high. But as I head towards the party Charlie (ironic name for a nightclub owner) is throwing for DISCO Soho's launch, I am feeling a little queer - and not in the YMCA sense of the word. You See The Trouble With Me (as big old Bazza White sang it) is the doctored cupcake I tried -just for the hell of it - at a gig I attended earlier has kicked in, and not in a good way. As fake hair-flicky drag queens camp it up and DISCO's waiters, in gold shorts and muscle vests, take to the floor for their well-choreographed routine to The Fatback Band's Bus Stop,  I'm becoming increasingly claustrophobic, panicked by flashbacks. Fraying around the edges, I am starting to Freak, and it sure don't look Chic. How come? Because DISCO, entered via a mocked-up door to a Pan-Am 747, feels Mighty Real (RIP Sylvester). Not up there with 54 of course, but it could be a dive in downtown Hoboken circa Boogie Ooogie Oogie. What's really upsetting me though, is a mural in the style of Keith Haring - imagery that I will forever associate with New York in those dark days when the perma-party turned to carnage. Suddenly, they are all back in the room. Warren; Steve; Angel; Karl; Calvin; Lloyd: gym buff blokes in their prime turned overnight into sarcoma-riddled, zombie-eyed cadavers as the Big A felled 50% of my disco buds. Add to this, a worrying-looking go-go dancer that, in my current altered state, I take to be a short-arse London society queen with her head stuck inside a glitter ball. "Wow! Is that really Fran Cutler?" I say. "Not with that body" quips catty person unknown. Or have I hallucinated that too? Sweaty, clammy, breathless,  I flee Gilkes's undoubtedly fine and fun vision of 1979 before I can critique DISCO's disco drinks - tequila sunrise, Harvey Wallbanger, blue lagoon. Based on his other venue's cocktails (Bunga Bunga, Maggie's Bart's), I imagine they are all perfectly acceptable. "Keep taking deep breaths and repeat ten times "I Will Survive" I say to myself as Gilke's PR leads me up towards fresh air and spirits me off to the relative sanity of his other new gaff, Mr. Fogg's (see next review).  
13 Kingly Court W1 7299 1222