A wee ways back, 5 April 2015, there was an awesome full moon with a total Lunar Eclipse & it marked Daylight Savings for us here in NZ… all neat & tidy and folded into one night, I got to watch this unfold in an almost cloudless night from the hills of Coatesville. This is what ended up on Facebook that night…
The Hills of Coatesville, and the night of tonight, reminds me of early disco tantra, 1979,
The Hills of Katmandu, Tantra… dj remixers played the dance floors wild with that tune back then. Play it while reading and maybe you’ll get a feel of the night and the nights of back then… and here’s thinking of you Robyn Durling, the best technical mixing dj I ever heard. I met Robyn playing at Vancouver’s iconic Gandy Dancer, a pretty wild club for its time, and I’ve seen more than a few. This full moon’s for YOU Robyn!
Woo hoo time…
Besides the iconic Gandy Dancer, back in the early 80’s, in Vancouver, a wild mixed gay bar, every straight in town was cuing up outside trying to get into the place because of the music, the dj’s and the dancers in there! It was wild and if you were straight, you cued up outside and hoped you got in. Months before I was in Ibiza, other side of the world, real wild there, and Copenhagen, Amsterdam, St Tropez, these were the places the dj’s were turning dance floors into frenzies, it was also the time of Studio 54 & I was hearing & seeing the first of these mixing DJ’s… & there in Vancouver too. Tantra was bringing the hills alive & dance just got a whole lot wilder!
Before then… way back in 1966 in Vancouver, where I used to live, Vancouver already was one of the music meccas, we had Danny Baceda’s Oil Can Harry’s with its R&B, lounge music and jazz club in the city and I used to go to his house on the hill in West Vancouver, I lived up & out there too and I took my new friend from Seattle up with me, he liked the company we mixed in, Bumpy Blackwell, RIP dear fiend, he was Little Richard & The Temptations manager… oh we spent some times together including seeing Diana Ross’s last ever show with the Supremes at Ken Stauffer’s ‘The Cave’ supper club. Ken & my family were close knit friends, I was still in my teens and already I was riding the wave. Stuffed somewhere in the middle of all that, Danny Baceda also had the Pink Pussycat, at the beginning of Gastown, downstairs, it was coined as Vancouver’s first Disco… the tables were always lined with white stuff and people sniffing… a sign of the times & people were dancing to new sounds & all were smiling!
Here’s a link to some of those mentioned in Vancouver… I miss those good times
Best Vancouver Bars and Clubs: A History
More on Vancouver’s earlier scene, Oreste’s Sure was a restaurant with belly dancers and it’s written ‘where forbidden things happened’ and they did, it’s forbidden to tell you about them, so you can imagine, we all lived them & everyone was there. From the man that brought us Oreste’s Sure, he also brought us his Retinal Circus, from years before, it turned many on with its happy smoke and sounds, similar to the sounds & the times of San Fancisco, with The Collectors and many others, but Disco was better, it got us all on our feet, instead of being dazed & confused … R&B & Motown did it for me, far more than all the bands coming in from the UK, which just so happened, Vancouver was their gateway into North America… Hugh Pickett was a man I luckily met in the 60’s, a Canadian impresario who seems brought all of the UK to us to hear, and he gave me tickets to any show I ever wanted to see… we all ran in the same gang back then and music was the flavor! Between Vancouver and southern California, I got to see, up close & personal, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, Moody Blues, The Small Faces… with Rod Stewart as they were billed at the time, Alice Cooper whipping chickens on the stage in the middle of the night at a rock festival, I didn’t like that, I did enjoy though Jefferson Airplane, Janice Joplin, Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Moody Blues, Deep Purple, Taj Mahal, and well, actually, if they were in Vancouver or anywhere on the west coast of north America and they were good, I saw them, from the magnificent rock festivals we had, to the bars and nightclubs, I was always back stage, or front row center… just the people I knew, however, way back in about 1964 I saw the Ike & Tina Turner Review at a high school in East Vancouver, mmm good that one. I was immediately hooked on horned reviews, bands with lots of brass, loved the horns and then we had dance nights at the Vancouver Forum where there would be around 1000 all coming to dance, pre Rock Band era for Vancouver, and it was there one night that I met Nona Hendryx (who later became one-third of the trio Labelle, with the hit “Lady Marmalade) and at age 14 (me… she was older )… she convinced me we should hitch hike down to Portland, Oregon to see a cousin of hers play guitar. I said to her I am only 14 years old & I said I have a family I have to go home to. She said no problem, we’ll hitch to your home, tell your parents and off we’ll go! Ha, well we did. Must say it didn’t go over well with my Mom but Dad slipped me $100 and out went our thumbs, 2 rides later we’d made it all the way from Vancouver, thru the border, into the USA and to Portland and at Portland’s Lighthouse nightclub, I saw for my first time… Jimi Hendrix and could he play guitar! Amazing, 1964! Two years later, at 16, I had a drivers license and thought nothing to make the 18 hour drive to San Francisco, or the additional 8 hours to LA… it was the world of music, and then along came Bumpy Blackwell and we took to each other like 2 peas in a pod, Little Richard, Temptations & Motown… I was in music heaven, I toured with him several times and usually I was the only white kid around… I was immersed into a world of music and most of his people, at their private homes, bars and nightclubs, they were predominantly colored people, which meant little to me, but every time we’d go somewhere new, and I’d walk in with him, the room would go dead silent… until Bumpy said “this is Doug and he’s my friend”. Now that was something I’d never seen growing up in Vancouver.
I must pop out to see this eclipse again, (it was a stunning moon that night)… seems it got me into true confession time then at 12:49AM
Sometime back, before then, I had to learn to dance somewhere. I already had a flair for rhythm, but somehow I missed the 1, 2, 3, 4… no one ever told me, so I was sent to the Commodore Ballroom, in 1960, ’61, maybe ’62… to learn to waltz, for the Christmas Ball we used to go to each year. Just looked it up, Billboard apparently named it one of North America’s 10 most influential clubs. I suppose I had to begin somewhere.
Before then it was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, we used to call them… ‘the marijuana brass’ after he visited us in Hawaii one Christmas… another story another time… maybe
My 1st ever record bought was Haley Mills, the song Let’s get together.
My next record bought was The Doors, in 1965 and later that year I saw them at The Cheetah Club, on the Santa Monica Pier, fascinating chap, totally out of his mind and what he did on stage, I am not going to write it in here.
I think I attended so many rock festivals, it probably started me off in the direction of going partially deaf, which I am. I noticed way back I really couldn’t hear the words but oh I could feel the rhythm, so really it was only a matter of time for House music to slip in alongside. Funny enough, it took until 1978 for someone, my friend Robyn, the dj, to finally explain the simplicity of 1, 2, 3, 4 to me… and then I knew what a bar was, and 4 bars… 16 beats and 64 and finally I understood how it all came together. Meanwhile, the rock festivals did their best in turning me deaf, such big speakers and mounted high on top of each other. Speakers were never as fine tuned as they are now!
Rock probably popped my ears and well, R&B tuned my Soul 1, 2, 3, 4
Anyways, it’s a Life and here’s to all you in San Francisco, LA, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and the rest of the world where music fell on to my lap…
… you can take some of the blame for this too!
Great moon out there tonight, hope you saw it, and good night!
And with that, that night, it was a wrap!
I love sharing music stories with you and I hope you like The Hills of Katmandu, 1979!