The first ever “Tube” disco poster- 1977
A “Heat” disco” membership card -2006
Be Set Free featuring Ross Gill and the Mustard Seed Soul Band
As I said in my last blog I loved teaching PE at Crofton School.
I also loved organising holidays for Crofton pupils such as Football and Basketball Tours of the Channel Islands and Basketball and site seeing tours of America. We had four USA trips, staying for a week with families in Washington, Boston and Cooperstown (New York State) then travelling down to Florida by plane or Greyhound to stay in Motels and visit Disney World, Universal studios etc.
There were also Skiing holidays and, for many years, Pony Trekking in the Beacon Beacons. It was on a Pony Trekking trip that I was given the idea of “The Tube” disco. I was chatting to some girls as we were trekking and I was reminiscing on the clubs that I used to go to when I was their age. The girls told me that they had nothing like that in Stubbington and that gave me the idea of organising a disco for the youth of the area.
I went with a group of pupils checking out potential venues. Hammond Hall was one but I felt that was too small. We had pretty much given up finding somewhere when one of the pupils said “There’s the gym at the Crofton Community Centre but that’s too big and it’s got large windows which let all the light in during the summer.” However I thought it worth a look and when I saw it I immediately thought “This is it- this is the place” and “The Tube” was born.
I still bump into people that reckon “The Tube” was the best club/disco they have ever been to- and I have to say the atmosphere was amazing- people would be queuing for ages to get in. I modelled it on the club that I had gone to as a teenager – The Birdcage in Portsmouth (see blog of Feb 6th) I called it “The Tube” after tube socks (sox) that basketball players wore- socks without a heel – in fact the original title was “Tube Entertainments Present a Dance/Disco”. I know there was a TV programme called “The Tube” but we had the name first- should have sued the BBC or was it ITV for copyright!!
The film Saturday Nite Fever (1977) was out and I “borrowed” the famous poster featuring John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney for our “Tube” posters (I am still holding my breath in case Paramount Pictures sue me) The first 50 girls got free entrance and then there was a free Coke for the next 50 people. “The Tube” was targeted at 14- 18 year olds but some older people came from all over the area. Not exactly sure of the fire regulations but I know we interpreted them rather loosely- one night when we had a guest Radio One D J, Peter Powell there were at least 600 crammed in.
In the summer it took me and my trusty pupil helpers all morning to black out the large triangular windows and also the sky lights. All next morning was spent cleaning up and clearing coke bottles and cans (well some were coke!!) which had been left around the village -obviously by outsiders! My dad made extra staging on which people would dance – loads of different dance crazes came and went out of fashion – the one I most remember was “Wrecking” in which all the lads would form a huge mass of bodies and then appear to fight each other-often they were.
I remember one favourite song with the crowd was The Special’s “Free Nelson Mandela” ( although not many at the time realised what the song was about) I also remember the first “Wham” song “Young Guns” in which George Michael and Andrew Ridgley had taken Top of the Pops by storm dancing bare foot. Other classics that come to mind are “Ring My Bell” “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”, “You Spin Me Right Round”“ “Don’t Leave Me This way” and “Pick up the Pieces” Also Shalamar’s “Night to Remember “ in which Jeffrey Daniel, the lead singer did the “moonwalk” and that was before Billy Jean and Michael Jackson!
There were occasional fights and when there was I was always worried that people would be too scared to come back, but in fact they came back (especially the girls ) twice the numbers. Julian Rees , Nigel Royale, Mark David, Mark James, The JB Monster Roadshow, The Triple T Roadshow and Martin Lee were some of the Roadshows we had every three weeks. Such great times so why did it finish? It was the great storm of 1987 that destroyed the building. We actually had a disco the day after the storm and the next day when I came to clear up, the building was surrounded with red tape from the Council – “Warning Building in Danger of Collapse” So thankfully it would appear that we narrowly avoided what would have been a catastrophic disaster. I waited nearly two years for the new Sportshall to be built before starting the “Tube” again but the acoustics were worse than Waterloo Station and so it died a death.
Later I thought of restarting it elsewhere and we spent some time going to the Thorngate Halls in Gosport- now that was hard work- we transported pupils from Stubb by bus but the buses got pelted with stones and bricks by the Gosport locals and in the end the coach company refused to take us.
Again a rethink before moving to Hammond Hall and also the Stubb Scout Hut but both were too small so we moved to Titchfield Community Centre under the new name of “The Heat” borrowed from the US basketball team Miami Heat. That proved a winner but pupils were openly drinking alcohol on the way to Titchfield from Stubb and after there was a clash between Stubb and Titchfield Belfield the Police told me “The Heat” had to stop. I persuaded them to let us continue with the proviso that “The Heat” became a membership club with membership dependant on pupils being brought to Titchfield with parents and responsible adults. The plan worked and “The Heat” became a huge success on a par with “The Tube” until I went part time at Crofton and no longer had my finger “on the pulse.” But as with “The Tube” we had some fantastic nights with “The Heat”- those who went I am sure will always remember the tune that finished every evening “The Great Escape” I also especially liked it when everyone danced in formation as in “La Macarena” “ Saturday Nite” “ Blame it on the Boogie” “5-6 7 8” and “ Cha cha Glide.”
What about my own music? Well not much at all was happening – I was pretty up with chart music and loved to join the DJs for the last hour giving them my suggestions for “Dance floor fillers.” Usually pure cheese and oldies like “Walking on Sunshine” “Love Shack” and even “Making Your Mind Up.” I must have driven poor Lloyd James our resident Heat DJ mad.
In the next couple of blogs I’ll tell you how the music I had written did take on a new lease of life and I even wrote a Eurovision Song Contest entry- honest! In the meantime here is a song “Be Set Free” from Mustard Seed Songs’ forthcoming musical Risen! This is the original version produced and sung by ex -Crofton student Ross Gill.