The Duke - August 6, 2014

Joey Essex wows the crowd at Sanuk, Blackpool.
Joey Essex wows the crowd at Sanuk, Blackpool.
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It’s been a while since I officially spent some time in a Blackpool night club.

I say “officially” because I don’t count those rare occasions when I’ve staggered (sorry, “popped”) into one for what I still habitually call a last drink - but what these days is considered to be early doors.

Apart from the fact that I’m way too old to blend into the crowd and that I look about as natural on a dance floor as Nick Clegg does at a Students’ Union meeting, these days I don’t actually know anyone to go with.

The Manager says she would rather spend the evening touring Dante’s nine circles of hell which I take as being “no thank you, I’ll pass on that one,” and I no longer have the excuse at home that “it’s for work, I really have to go, I’ve got to write about it.”

As for what music I would be subjected to, I’ve long since lost track of what constitutes a “floor filler.” The nearest I get to keeping my finger on that particular pulse is at the gym when I’m concentrating on keeping my own pulse going while trying not be too obvious about watching scantily clad young ladies cavort on the video screen.

The last time I visited a real nightclub for any length of time was for a Gazette leaving do and I was so blatantly overdressed (what’s wrong with a black suit and long sleeved shirt?) that I spent more time directing people to the toilets and various bars than I did with the people I was supposed to be socialising with.

A lot has clearly changed since I used to easily fill two broadsheet pages every Friday in The Gazette with club and pub news. Happy days of Weekend Clubber, Bar Person of Week, Dance Floor Top 10, DJ Fact file and so forth.

So I was pleased when my old friend Peter Bowden announced on Facebook that he was re-inventing his Club Sanuk and was offering a prize for the best new name.

Obviously I entered. Several times.

First I suggested “Car Park.” That would guarantee the full support of Blackpool Council (if in doubt, check out The Syndicate’s recent fate).

Then I suggested “Aerial” (that’s as in mobile phone aerial).

That would guarantee the council forgets all about you (see similar stories on The Syndicate’s present state).

Finally I pitched in with calling it either “Manchester” or “Liverpool.” That way revellers would be following the wisdom of a certain councillor who has already suggested they would be better off there than in “Blackpool.”

Strangely Peter didn’t take up any of my brainwaves. He opted instead for calling his latest venture Club Domain.

Most of Blackpool’s clubbing heydays now exist solely as re-unions (have we all really aged that much and in some cases changed partners that many times?) or pop-up roadshows (I think we used to call them mobile discos).

So, assuming I receive a real invitation to Blackpool’s latest club and not just one of those come-one-come-all Facebook things I’ll have to find a way of diverting The Manager’s attention for a few hours and I’ll have to come up with something more street cred than my black suit to wear.

One thing’s for sure though, I’ll be heading into Blackpool care of my Senior Railcard!

Mixing it up at the next Battle of the Bands

What’s the difference between these two lists of local bands?

List 1: Montagu, Northern Sugar, The Drop Out Wives, Go Around Captain, The Atmospherics and The Lost Archives.

List 2: Zanzibar, Foulstroke, In2XS, The Tony Williams Band, The Stairs, Quarta Lite, S.S.C.B, Moscow Philharmonix, Smart Alec, Ex Directory, Zanti Misfitz, Against the Grain and Hollywood.

The answer is……….33 years!

Having had a bit more time recently to rummage through long lost (well, hidden away and forgotten about, rather than actually lost) albums I chanced upon “And A Cast of Thousands..

Well Maybe 55” – an ambitious compilation recorded and produced by one time musos and muses Robin Dalton and Chris Riley at the long since lost Sunset Sound Studio and featuring some of the best known bands from the pub and club circuit circa 1981 (it’s List 2 by the way in case you aren’t keeping up).

Some of the tracks have actually stood the test of time but I’m not letting on which because I occasionally bump into some of the survivors and I’d hate them to aim their mobility scooters at me.

As for List 1, they are some of the cream of the current crop so let’s wish them all the best of luck in tonight’s final of Battle of the Bands at the Blue Room on Church Street in Blackpool.

I’m pretty flattered to have been asked to introduce and compere the evening.

I was also asked if I fancied being a judge but for reasons learned over 30 or so years organising The Gazette’s various rock band competitions, I declined.

In all that time I still couldn’t get it through certain heads that I wasn’t a judge, so I’m already prepared for a mixed reception this evening.

I’m looking forward to it though.

Since leaving The Gazette I’ve not managed to see as many bands as I used to, so this will be a good chance to catch seven in one fell swoop and from what I hear it will be a night to remember (for all the right reasons).