Disco Files Dec 74 – Part Two

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January 16, 2020 – This week I play both sides of what is one of my favourite Canadian disco records, the enigmatic Montreal Synthesizer Orchestra! If anyone has any information about this, please get it touch. Chugging basslines, heart-felt melodies and harmonies. It's quaint and disarming. And then somewhat randomly, a female voice says "Oo! Do it again!" Just the one time. So mysterious!

Also on the show, the second part of the Disco Files December 74 roundup and stories about the opening of the Flamingo club, which in mentioned in The Disco Files for that day.

Disco Files was a weekly column written by Vince Aletti that reported what club DJs in New York and across the US were playing that week, and, as a regular feature on this show, I'm tracking it week by week, exactly 45 years later.

The big news from the December 21st column was the imminent release of a new album from the Spanish group Barrabas, which DJ Murray Brooks had acquired when a friend brought back a copy from Venezuela. Barrabas was well regarded already because of the songs Wild Safari and Woman released two years earlier. The album wouldn't get a US release sorted out until some time later, making it a rare commodity for DJs. Brooks said the opening cut, Hijack was "so powerful that he had to play it four times in a row the night he introduced it before the crowd was satisfied (and exhausted)."

The opening of the Flamingo, which would become one of the most significant gay discos of the era, was a big event and Aletti opened his December 28th column with the news, calling it "a huge superbly-designed new private discotheque (for members and their guests only) that opened last week." "Even with the rugs rolled and stacked at one end and a ladder still standing at the other, it looked like the best space in town. Armando Galvez, who has done occasional parties and some incredible tapes, was the opening night deejay, so the pace was, in his word, "hectic." Wonderfully hectic."

The club was the project of Michael Fesco, who had previously operated the Ice Palace in the Pines on Fire Island, a gay summer community on Long Island, and it was located on the corner of Broadway, right below Houston street.

Believe it or not, it was actually above another major club of the era, the second location of Nicky Siano's Gallery. The Gallery was actually one block west on Mercer Street, but the Flamingo was 200 feet long, fifty feet wide with 14 foot high ceilings, and so I think it must have stretched all the way from Broadway to Mercer.

In his book Love saves the day, Tim Lawrence recounts the story where Michael Gomes who was at the Gallery heard music, and so went up two flights of stairs and discovered to his surprise "another DJ, some speakers and several hundred dancers." (!!)

The history of these two clubs is too much to tell here, but suffice to say that their crowds were quite different, and so they coexisted without competition. The Flamingo attracted a white, affluent gay crowd, which had previously gone to the 10th Floor, while the crowd at the Gallery was more mixed  in all senses: men and women, gay and straight, Blacks, whites and Latinx all.

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Finally, I manage to shoe-horn in a set of hot tracks from a new compilation on Athens of the North called Disco with a Feeling. David Haffner and AotN have done all the legwork to properly license all of these wonderful and obscure cuts from the original artists, and now we can all enjoy this great music.

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Also new this week! I've added a link to the blog to a spreadsheet of all the songs I've played on the show. I'll be updating it every week, and you can download this data as a CSV or TSV to play around with in your favourite tabular data program. Or you can check out the second tab and see a breakdown of the origin of the songs by country and year. How much of my playlists are on Spotify? There's a chart for that breakdown too.

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