Heart Searching: Just blame it on the boogie: Struck by a bad case of Saturday night fever, Lyndsay Russell pulled on her cheesecloth blouse and platform shoes and tottered down to the Carwash
Saturday 24 September 1994
Dressed the part, five of us were on our way to 'where it was all at'. Only for once, we were 20 years ahead of fashion. You see, we were original Seventies chicks. Average age 30 plus VAT, we'd already seen the movie, read the book and got the tie-dye T-shirt.
Still, it was Saturday night and we all fancied a really good 'bop'. But where, amongst the clubs offering Garage-House-Garden-Rubbish, do you find such a thing?
The Carwash seemed ideal. A club where we could hear records recognisable as music, and put together outfits recognisable as trendy. 'Are you sure these gold medallions aren't too over the top?' ventured Sue, 34, looking like Engelbert Humperdink's love-child. 'They look fab,' we lied.
As a dare, each of us had trawled the depths of our wardrobes, resurfacing with items of hideous merit. The coveted title of 'Dancing Queen' went to Joanne's unbeatable effort: shiny orange stretch-pants and a pink sequinned boob-tube.
'This is what it's all about,' she sighed, adjusting her sparkly Abba-style headband to above her eyebrows for the fourth time. Instead of ravers at the Carwash, we looked like raiders from a car-boot sale.
Hoisted onto platform soles, we strutted down the street, not so much 'Staying Alive' as staying upright. Unfortunately, by the time we'd shuffled to the Carwash, our Saturday night fever was somewhat dampened by a massive queue. 'Wasn't like this in the good old days,' muttered Lauren, irritated at the doorman's discrimination against the uncool.
Secretly panicking none of us would get in, I marched up to the front of the queue and confronted the doorman: 'Now look here young man, we're original Seventies chicks and I think we deserve some VIP respect, don't you?' No. He didn't. Relegated to the back of the queue, we stood around with the rest of the peasants, where the aroma of afghan coats brought back memories of first snogs.
Hurt that our authenticity carried no weight, I grabbed the bouncer by the arm, and tried another tactic. 'My varicose veins are killing me,' I groaned. Realising that leaving us outside was more image-damaging than letting us in, the bouncer capitulated.
Although the flashing disco atmosphere was the same, the young clubbers had interpreted the Seventies look with Nineties designer flair and were extremely sophisticated. Their things matched, for a start. The only thing I'd matched was my cheesecloth shirt to my face.
Suddenly, the decade's hit record 'Le Freak' pounded out. Surfing a tidal wave of unexpected nostalgia, we raced en masse to the dance-floor, jumped onto a large go-go podium, and freaked-out Seventies style. It was brilliant fun. As we bumped and gyrated to the rhythm, admiring crowds of young men gathered at our feet. They looked entranced. We danced wilder.
And then we realised: it wasn't admiration, it was curiosity. To the pack of staring teenagers, we were les freaks. As the record changed, our image remained unimproved by the fact we were also the only clubbers doing John Travolta impersonations.
Joanne and I found ourselves partnered by a couple of Italian students. These days, no one asks you to dance. They just sidle up. 'You should hang a notice round your necks saying: 'A dance with the real McCoy - 50p',' sniggered Suzy.
Two records later, my stamina failed. Mustering what was left of my dignity, I made the excuse I was off to powder my nose. The students thought I meant drugs.
'I wouldn't like to be young these days. Look at all the posing,' said Sue. It was true. In our day, it seemed you simply got up there and danced with sheer joy. Glancing at the self-conscious youngsters around us, you could see how slick advertising had taken its toll.
They were having to grapple with new social fears such as: 'Am I swigging from the right designer beer?' and 'Does it matter I'm wearing last season's trainers?' Their faces wore an 'I'm bored, amuse me' expression, whilst fidgeting, nervous fingers betrayed the truth. What the poor things needed was a spell in Gary Glitter's gang.
My thoughts were shattered when I recognised the 18-year-old au pair of a business acquaintance. I shrunk into the corner. 'Hi, it's me, Ulla,' she said cheerfully. At the same time, the Italian students reappeared on the scene. 'How old are you and your girl friends?' asked one, brutally.
Ah, dear Ulla. Putting a friendly arm around her, I innocently answered: 'If you take our average age, it's about 27'.
Luckily, 'Boogie Nights' interrupted the conversation. 'Have you ever danced 'The Bump' little boy?' I asked, leading one of the students back up on stage. He adored the rhythmic moves. 'What a crazy dance. Your Bumps, it's - how do you say it? Sexy, no?' The child was getting a little too fresh. With one sharp, experienced hip bounce, I sent him flying through the air, and into oblivion.
Not long after, our own party started breaking up. Literally. Lauren complained of a headache: 'Do you think we could ask them to turn the music down?' Then Joanne, grooving to 'Another One Bites the Dust' chose to illustrate the lyrics to all and sundry when her back went.
Suzy, whose eyes couldn't take the smoke, wanted to go elsewhere for a nightcap of hot chocolate. Finally, Sue 'I'll go back and watch the handbags', was found slumped on a sofa, watching a video screen. Mesmerised by reruns of Starsky and Hutch, her eyes had Paul Michael Glaser-ed over. Time to go. Anyway, we didn't want to be around when the house lights came on, did we?
Worth doing again? Sorry, not unless we're members of BUPA. On the other hand, if you do see us there tonight - don't blame us - blame it on the boogie.
Carwash: Saturdays at Le Scandale, 54 Berwick Street, London W1. 10pm-3.30am, pounds 8.00. Telephone 071-355 1946.
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