August 1985: Three footy heads walk into a disco

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I went to my first disco in August 1985. It was the ‘Boulevard’ on Swanston Street. The club would open its doors at around 7.00pm and wasn’t particularly fussy about the age of its clientele. Your ‘older’ crowd would rock up at around 9.00pm. Older means those aged between 18-25. The 15-17 year olds had no trouble with ID. The management and bouncers knew that we were underage, but they didn’t seem to care as long as we dressed reasonably well, behaved by not getting to drunk and keeping a low profile. They probably knew that most of the kids in this age group would be gone before midnight anyway. Cabs weren’t cheap and it was wiser to catch the last tram or train home at five minutes to midnight.

On that first night it was me, Vas and Johnny. Vas barracked for Richmond and Johnny was staunch Fitzroy. By early August in 1985 we knew that our teams would not be featuring in September. Therefore, we had to find another source of amusement and a way to get our minds off the respective woes that befell Richmond, Fitzroy and Collingwood. We were still pimply kids that thought a little bum fluff on our chins made us look like men.

It was the first time for me and Vas and we were nervous. Johnny had been to the Italian Veneto club in Bulleen a few times and considered himself a relative veteran of the night club scene at 15. “Just pay your money and look cool. Don’t look the bouncer in the eyes and act like you’ve been here before. If they ask for ID, just say you left it in the car.” said Johnny edgily.We got in. Vas was a year older than us, but he was the one who got asked the question about age. He felt a tad insulted, but they eventually let him through and we made our way to the bar for a Crown Lager. We’d felt we’d earned it by just making it through the door. It seemed that we were the only ones there. It was early, way too early even for us babies. We’d have to wait another hour or so before the serious clubbers began to file into the establishment.

By 8.00pm the Prince, Madonna, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Vanity, Cyndi Lauper wannabes began to file in. The most popular club song at the time was by a German bloke with a penchant for pancake make-up and eye shadow known as ‘Fancy’. The song ‘Slice Me Nice’ included the lyrics:
“I’m like a cake
That wants to be baked.
I’m like a pie made for hungry guys”

Fanciful stuff, but the serious expressions of those dancing to those lyrics cracked me up. The irony of seeing boys who would dismiss Fancy as a poof or a ponce dancing to his music to get a girl confirmed the absurdity of the human condition.

Elton John, Marc Knofpler, Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin were also big that year, but no one wanted to look like them. If you’d walked into that scene today you’d swear it was an 80s fancy dress party. This was normal. So many skinny people wearing baggy clothes. Oh and the taffeta. Wall to wall taffeta for the girls, usually electric blue or pink complemented by fluorescent bobby socks and head bands. Wide, baggy pleats for the guys with puffy shirts that were either checked or monochrome. Striped shirts would not make their unfortunate presence felt until late 1988.

Until the end of that year I’d take ten dollars with me for a night out at the Boulevard. It would get me three beers and a tram ride home. Those three beers, usually Foster’s Lager, were savoured. Half way through the second beer I would be buzzing to the point where I’d get enough courage up to hit the dance floor and bust a move next to even the most fleet-footed Mario’s and Maria’s. It was spot the Anglo at the Boulevard. The soft white skin would stand out amongst a colour chart of olive and tan complexions. It was a wogfest, mainly populated by Greek, Italian and Lebanese youth from the Northern and Western Suburbs. The smell of Pino, Old Spice and Brute 33 was fused with Poison, Coco and Paris. If the EPA had the power then it would have evacuated the place purely for the hazardous fumes. Mixed with sweat, cigarette smoke, gel and hairspray the Boulevard would have been classed as a toxic waste zone by today’s standards.

Last Saturday night after the footy, I was sitting in my office listening to music on youtube. My 15 year old daughter, Anastasia had two friends over to watch a movie and just hang out. They had also gone to the footy earlier in the day. When I played ‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley the girls invaded my study and began singing along. I couldn’t believe they knew the song so well. They asked me to play them more songs from the 1980s and hour long danceathon culminated in Fancy’s ‘Slice Me Nice’. The girls danced, laughed, cringed and sang the final verse. I wonder how Anastasia and her friends will see themselves thirty years from now.

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Never heard of Slice Me Nice before today Phil, must have been a Melbourne thing (?).

    My one and only disco year was 1981, my first year out of uni. We’d get the poppier tunes from The Clash, Ian Dury , Blondie, Adam and the Ants or Devo at the Old Lion or Redlegs, but I’ve blocked out the other slop (probably Sheena Easton or ONJ). I never went near the dance floor and was probably the only person who ate the “meal” that was provided due to licensing laws.

    One night they accidentally played Only For Sheep by The Bureau (what a corker) – I think I was the only person who saw the irony.

  2. Whilst you’d have to pay me $10 to drink 3 Fosters Lagers, that is an impressively cheap night out.

    Never heard of Slice me Nice either.

    Your daughter and her friends have good taste Phil, I’m unashamed to admit I still love 80’s music (although there was some utter garbage as well). Australian music was at its peak I reckon.

  3. Great memories there, Phil.
    It is very true when you say you wonder what our kids will think of current fashions & music in 30 years’ time?

    And there is something to be said for catching the last train home!
    Last Sunday morning, I was leaving for work at 5-45am. The front door opens and in walks son #1…”have a good day at work, dad.” Just as I go outside to get into my car, a taxi pulls up and out gets son #2…”see ya, dad.”

  4. I’d never heard of Slice Me Nice either. But there’s a million songs I’ve never heard of. Fortunately Slice Me Nice is not as gruesome/bloody/violent as the title suggests. You’re a brsve man, Phil, re-living disco days.

  5. Mickey Randall says:

    Brut 33. What does this mean? What is the etymology?

    Top read Phil. I don’t seek it but I haven’t seen Fosters in an Australian pub since 1985. Thankfully.

    No-one is to Blame by Howard Jones still goes very well.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Thanks Swish. I’m sure it was a North-Western suburbs ethnic thing with Fancy. Eurodisco was quite popular among that demographic and included acts like Modern Talking, Giorgio Moroder, Pet Shop Boys. I’m fascinated by the fluidity of masculine expression in these acts, more layered than they seem.

    JD and a pack of Peter Jackson 15s only cost 80 cents. Very cheap night out.

    Smokie, I’m not quite at the getting home at dawn stage with Anastasia. She still sticks to midnight on weekends. Sure it won’t be far away though. I’ll be concerned and probably a little envious.

    Vin, where rockers fear to tread mate.

    Mickey, not sure about the etymology, but this was one of the ads that inspired the trend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXIIGHob0BQ

    How can you go wrong?

  7. Michele Davis says:

    Great read Phil,
    Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s never heard of Fancy, but my disco nights were limited too, on a night out at a forgotten Melbourne Disco with a group of our young married friends (as we were) we spotted Laurie Serafini. One of the girls wanted to invite him over for a roast, but we weren’t that brave. Our youth was spent at DeMarco’s in Essendon, every Thursday , Friday and Saturday, listening to Bluestone, who played a lot of Jackson Browne, and Eagles stuff. They had supper to fit in with licensing laws too, spaghetti Bol or dimmies. Met my husband there in 1976, his opening memorable line when I asked for a spare chair on his table was that ‘someone had just spewed up his dimmies on that chair’ he found me a clean chair, the rest is history!

  8. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great stuff Phil. Had never heard of Fancy either. How 1980’s is that song and clip!
    No disco’s in South West Victoria in the 1990’s when I was a teenager, just cover bands at pubs. Khe Sahn anyone? And cigarette smoke for a while until it was banned.

  9. Peter Fuller says:

    Michele,
    Your husband is a gentleman beyond compare, not only warning you about the hazard seat, but taking the trouble to find you another. If you met him in 1976, you obviously recognised him as keeper.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    That’s a cracker of a story Michele. I take it you and hubby don’t have dimmies for dinner on your anniversaries?
    Discovered The Eagles and Jackson Brown later in life. The Eagles compilation is one of my favourite albums to drive to. Recently saw a wonderful doco on NETFLIX: ‘The History of the Eagles’ and I didn’t realise how much influence J. Browne and Linda Ronstadt had in the early years. Well worth a look.

    Luke, aren’t you glad you weren’t a teenager in that era?

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    A few memories there Phil the SA equivalent was probably,Jules in Hindley St. Sams disco as a Norwood man going up the back stairs to avoid paying to get in was always a challenge. The Bay disco on Sunday nights at the Glenelg FC was popular players from all clubs were at either Sams or the Bay disco so what ever had happened on the ground was generally sorted out by Sunday night

  12. Michele Davis says:

    Yes Peter Fuller he’s a keeper
    PHIL I’ve seen that doco, it’s great. J.Browne and the Eagles still my all time favourites, I’m stuck in the 70’s, the best era ! Our 3 kids were reared on that music too I’m proud to say. Sadly they don’t share the love

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