From dancing queen to disco chaperone – how time flies!

Published 26/06/2013 | 05:28

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AH HOW soon the years fly by! No longer are you sitting at the disco waiting to be asked to meander aimlessly on a sticky floor in a sweaty embrace (i.e. the Irish slow-set), but rather sitting watching your child at their very first disco.

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Granted this was a kiddies disco in the local rugby club, so any attempt to play a mushy song was met with an unwelcoming groan and a shout for 'Macklemore' to be played for at least the seventh time...but you still can't help thinking now they have a taste of the dancefloor, the real thing won't be far off.

But how very different it is for the next generation of 'nite-club' goers to when I started out on the local disco circuit.

I was the grand old age of 13 before I set foot in the Star and Crescent in the Fair Green for the unmissable weekly non-alcoholic event known as 'Bubbles'.

Ridiculously young at the time, it seems positively geriatric compared to the social lives of the Tweenies and Teens of 2013.

I remember being in total awe at the veterans of 14 and 15 who knew all the cool moves and how to display just the right amount of disinterest on your face to get asked to dance!

I was as fresh as a daisy, and as wet behind the ears as a pup, so the memories of my first slow dance (about eight minutes into the disco if I recall) are indelibly embedded in my memory.

I shall spare the blushes of my inaugural dance partner by not naming him here (although he remained a terrified perfect stranger throughout the six-minute encounter), but suffice it to say, I can never hear Foreigner's 'I Want To Know What Love Is' and Adrian Gurvitz warbling 'Gonna Write a Classic' without thinking of that first halting dance.

As the years went by, you became the veteran, swapping dazzling pink dresses for all-engulfing black jumpers, and bubble-gum pop for the earnest and moody Cure or New Order.

Yet some things never changed...Michael Roe rocking it out in his yellow satin numbers on the dance floor, Mike McCloskey and his unswerving chirpiness no matter what the song or time, and the sure and certain knowledge that whoever broke your heart this week, would be a dim and distant memory in about a fortnight's time.

Bubbles, became Fantasy Gardens, became Luciano's, became Thee Place...all institutions in the town, shaping individual memories for thousands of my generation in Drogheda, but unknown to us, sharing so much with everyone the same age in Ireland.

Who can forget the weekly charade of queueing with the oldest looking girl pushed to the front, desperately trying to recall the bouncers name so you could flirt your way in? (Just as paper never refused ink, a doorman in Drogheda never refused entry to a gaggle of girls, unless they were still wearing Startrite shoes)!

You paid a King's ransom to leave your best coat in the cloakroom, only to lose the ticket sometime during the night and have to wait until everyone else had collected their's anyhow.

One thing you never lost was the ticket for the chicken and chips!

I only found out recently it was part of the late licensing laws that a 'proper meal' had to be served.

That would explain why hotels went to the bother of serving a full carvery lunch to a bunch of teenagers at 2 a.m., who could have been eating blotting paper with gravy as long as it soaked up the Ritz and Stag!

The carpet in the seating area was always red and swirly (and for some unexplained reason, travelled half way up the walls) and the dance floor was always sticky and slippy, an incongruous feat which many scientists have yet to be able to recreate or explain.

And every now and then, an Australian soap star would turn up to make things really interesting!

Then of course there was the national anthem.

Where else in the world would the tune that is supposed to be revered in your country above all else be screamed at the top of hundreds of drunken lungs at 3 a.m.?

Although for many years, if you were parachuted into Ireland during the end of a Drogheda disco you would have thought 'Ole Blue Eyes' musings on the Big Apple was our national song.

The disco of yore has very much been replaced by manic nightclubs with scant regard for the Irish traditions (bar the odd soap star), and I can't help thinking I would prefer my own offspring to be attending the devil I knew then the devil I don't.

Drogheda Independent

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