1 Jul, 2020

Night Clubs ……

…. are definitely, completely, utterly, totally, 100% NOT my cup of tea.  They would never have been on the DP wish list, and my few experiences have reinforced that.  In short – in short because I’ve no intention of developing the theme – here’s a summary.

1971: A couple of hours in the small Gordon Night Club in Khartoum.  Easier to drink alcohol; only expats present; dark with neon lights; music, chatting, and no dancing that I can remember – and for which I was grateful: this David doesn’t dance.  Although the  venue was known to the authorities, and wasn’t illegal, it had an uneasy feel about it.  I was taken to the entrance in a narrow street, a knock in the door, a face appeared through a hatch; we were let in.  All very furtive.

1971 Alexandria: taken to a club by an Egyptian who had been teaching in Kosti (Sudan) with friend Malcolm.  Large busy room with seats and tables; waiters delivering drinks; multinational including Egyptians; mostly just sitting around talking; a lot of noise and music; and then the belly dancers.  If you like belly dancers then you’d have liked these.  I didn’t, even when one of them – Oh dear, in these moralistic times can I say this? – balanced a walking stick across her bosom and proceeded to dance around the tables gently poking the stick into our ears.  That sort of thing can’t still be happening, can it?   Probably it can: we come at it with our oh-so-righteous, fashionable, western moralities, which have no sway in other countries.  It was interesting but I was glad to leave.

Around 1984, Tokyo: Ramadan, so on holiday from Saudi Arabia with friends.  A friend of a friend, who lived in the capital, took us there.  I think we had some drinks and perhaps some food, but the main memory is of the long room dedicated to dancing – the disco.  Dark, night-club lighting, strobes, and of course loud music.  Filled with Japanese men and women having a good time ‘doing their thing’ to the pulsating rhythms.  But they weren’t doing their thing the way we would.

The two long side-walls of the room were mirrored, floor to ceiling, the whole length.  Everyone was jumping, swaying, twisting, arms and legs pounding: high intensity stuff.  There was one thing they were not doing: they were not dancing with each other.

Each person was dancing to his/her reflection.  And it was segregated.  Along one side of the room the men were bopping away, all facing themselves in the ‘men’ mirrors.  Behind them, along the other side, the women were bopping away, all facing themselves in the ‘women’ mirrors.  There’s a routine called ‘dancing back to back’, but it wasn’t that.  Big expense of energy, but no contact between the sexes.

That’s the only time I’ve visited Japan.  It would be interesting to know whether that type of disco was normal then, reflecting (no pun intended) the morality of the time.  Or perhaps it was a popular gimmick, an alternative to communal discos for couples.

2003 London.  A client invited me.  Caroline was a successful, professionally qualified business executive who wanted to change direction in her life, so I was helping her with career planning.  That included looking at the practical options but also identifying her deeper instincts, to make sure that she wouldn’t regret the next move.  My office, if you remember (blog 3 June), overlooked Piccadilly Circus.  We’d met there for the last two hours of a winter’s working day during which she invited me to dinner.  The Café Royal was a couple of doors away so we dined there.  Then, “Let’s have a drink in a little place I know in Barclay Square”.   I was tired but “OK”, so we strolled over to the Square and into her ‘little place’ – Annabel’s.

Many readers will have heard of Annabel’s, a private members’ night club, very ‘high-end’ clientele, sumptuous decor, grossly expensive drinks and food, and stellar guests including royalty.  The Queen visited it that year, apparently the only night club she has ever entered.

We stayed for about two hours.  I suppose I should have enjoyed it but I didn’t.  Big money everywhere; lots of business talk and business dealings; friendly enough; the bonhomie rather overdone, I felt; no unpleasantness; but just not an environment that I found attractive.

And that’s it.  Like so many things over the decades, no regrets.  All fascinating.  But no intention of ever visiting another, even if I could.  And they’re all closed now anyway.

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4 Comments

  1. Dear David, Like yourself, I investigated the Gordon Night Club briefly in the 1970s. It was celebrated as the last place in Khartoum still bearing the name of General Gordon. But what was its name? I remember calling it the Gordon Music Hall. This seemed to be supported by a reference to it in the final chapter of Sad Tales of Khartoum by Babiker Abbas (2015). However. when the Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, the late Patrick Collinson, arrived in the Sudan in 1956, he observed that ‘In Khartoum there was a nightclub, the Gordon Cabaret …’ ( http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk › collinson_patrick_80th_Birthday ). General Gordon would not have been amused.

    Reply
  2. Night clubs and discos are indeed dreadful, and I’ve only been briefly in one or two. They combine ideally two things I loathe – noise and crowds. On the other hand, a good bar with quiet music and a tasteful ambiance is something else altogether. One memorable one was the bar of Raffles Hotel in Singapore, which invented the Singapore Sling. Sitting there drinking them, one could just imagine Somerset Maugham and other luminaries surrounding one. I’ll bet you’ve been in a few interesting ones yourself!

    Reply
    • Nancy

      One of the most memorable moments of a 6 wee excursion from Melbourne to London was a very quiet hour sitting in the lobby of Raffles enjoying a delicious Sling.

      mc

      Reply
  3. David, I’m sure I remember you with a belly dancer in a night club in Tarsus (where St Paul came from) in the summer of 1968…

    Reply

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