It was 1977 when the music all went wrong.
Until then we’d had a steady progression of fads and phases, mods, rockers, glam-rock, progressive rock, teeny-bop, when you were a teenager in the early 1970s you knew which pigeon hole you sat in and more importantly which pigeon hole other kids sat in, you recognised kids of a similar fad to you by the patches they’d sewn on their jeans and all was well in the world, grown men on TV would wear ridiculous clothes, paint their faces with glitter paint and your dad would shake his head at the TV set and proclaim them all to be poofs – proper demarcation between the generations, as it should be.
Then in December 1977 the Bee Gees wrote a soundtrack to a film that shook the world to its roots and caused young adolescents like the young JerryChicken to hold his head in his hands and wail “…but how will I ever get a bird again?”
Do you know what is wrong with the film clip (above) ?
What is wrong with the film clip above is that it is pure fantasy, and its pure fantasy because its supposed to have happened in a downtown Brooklyn nightclub and I wager that if you tried to do that in a downtown Brooklyn nightclub on any night of the week, if you tried to get the punters in a Brooklyn nightclub, or for that matter a 1970s Leeds nightclub to stand aside while you, in your white suit, did a dance for them, then they wouldn’t have stood around in amazement and applauded, they would have given you a bloody good shoeing and the bouncer would throw you out into a back alley in no time flat, a messy pulp of blood, snot and muscle no longer attached to bone.
Kids like me could not hope to dress like John Travolta let alone dance like him, if I had walked into the tap room of The Fox of a Sunday lunchtime then I would have ended up out the back door in a messy pulp of blood, snot and muscle no longer attached to bone, and that fact alone is what prevented all of us from trying, that and the fact that you’d also, by complete coincidence, look like a big poofta.
And yet many tried, far more tried than should have, and the expectation among females of a Saturday night in every nightclub in town was that you would turn up at the door in a white suit and black shirt and that you’d have brought your dancing shoes with you, the dance floor would clear and you’d whisk her onto the illuminated platform to the strains of three, by then elderly, Bee Gees (yes kids, there used to be three of them) who wailed along in harmony in pitches that only dogs and small mammals could hear – some of the gaps during their songs are not gaps at all, if you watch them on old Top of the Pops episodes you can see that they are still singing, its just that mere humans cannot hear them anymore but Martians 33 million miles away are now picking them up on their ultra high frequency transistor radios.
The reality of course was that as soon as the incredible shrieking music began your bird for the night would jump up and attempt to drag you onto the dance floor with a “ooh I luv this tune, c’mon lets have a dance” and no amount of “Fook off I’m busy drinking this ale” would distract her, in no time flat you be on a dance floor crowded like a football terrace, shuffling away in complete embarrassment while occasionally raising one hand in the air in John Travolta style when everyone else did, except your hand went up 20 seconds after everyone else’s and stayed up 30 seconds longer than anyone else’s, in other words you made a complete prat of yourself and wished that the fooking Bee Gees had gone back to Australia in the 1960s.
Now THIS is what I call real dancing.
Have I mentioned that I once won a twisting competition ?
Wait here while I go pick my family up from the floor for they all seem to have fainted at the thought.
Yes, I was five years old and at the birthday party of a girl who lived over the road and like all bloody girly party’s they had to have a bloody dance didn’t they – but worse still, the father of this girl, who by the way was Polish, completely irrelevant fact but it adds colour to the picture, was also a film fanatic and had in his possession a film camera, no not a video camera for such things were the stuff of pure fantasy and still 20 years away from being invented, he had a cine-camera, a big block of metal and plastic that had real film inside it just like they used to use in the cinemas, and it was his bright idea to film all of us kids having a twist on a narrow strip of lino in the corner near the stairs, which because of its narrow-ness meant that only two of us could twist at a time and so the filming of this event took on epic proportions and lasted for most of the afternoon.
Eventually of course they conceded that the twisting technique of the young JerryChicken was indisputably and by far the most comprehensive study of that dance fad that they had ever seen and filmed, I imagine in my museum of recollections that I looked EXACTLY like the John Travolta character twisting away in Jack Rabbit Slim’s emporium in Pulp Fiction, probably EXACTLY like him and for this reason I was awarded the first prize and a valuable felt tip pen by remuneration for having entertained them all AND appeared on film doing so, a film which probably exists in a box in a dusty loft somewhere in Burley, to this very day.