Bazooka Joe’s upstairs at The Talbot, for Brockley Max – May 2015

A lot has happened since May, most of it not relevant to this blogette about discos and music and playing vinyl in the South of London. But aren’t you desperate to find out what happened when Bazooka Joe’s came to The Talbot for the fun and popular local festival Brockley Max?

The photos say a lot (mostly thank you to the ever generous and talented Jay Alix). As you can see there was bingo and Barry, synchronised disco dancing (thank you Ken and Matilda), nylon and nibbles and generally a lot of good fun.

The Disco Phone rang, and I like to think we answered it.

Here are lots more silly pictures. If you had came and had fun, please do comment, or if you have a venue and are looking for a fun night of retro 70s entertainment, get in touch and we will bring Bazooka Joe to you.

Our thanks go to the friendly venue, to the festival organisers of Brockley Max. and most of all to those of you who came, old timers and new friends. Looking forward to next year… if you’ll have us.

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Silent Disco – what’s it all about then?

You’ve either heard the term bandied about and wondered why on earth disco might be silent.

Or you’ve pranced around yourself wearing headphones in a dark quiet room looking quite the eccentric, bobbing about to sounds no one else can hear.

Silent disco has been around for years, originating in music festivals and used by some eco-activists to minimise noise pollution and disturbance to the local wildlife.  The ‘silent’ element means the music can continue playing beyond a normal curfew.  That silence is due to hearing the music through wireless headphones, and not ‘out loud’ – the music is broadcast through radio transmitters – although of course in reality there is no silence but a lot of singing aloud and giggling and, well, people having fun are not generally making much of an effort to remain quiet.

The term has been in the Oxford Dictionary Online since 2005. A silent disco was held in that year as one of the many activities at Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, USA and the catchy term obviously stuck. Today there are many companies offering silent disco headset hire, in the UK and worldwide.

The high entertainment factor, and the main reason for their popularity, comes from the fact that silent disco headsets are generally manufactured with two or three channels, which gives the listener the choice of which one they want to listen to – and they can change between them as they wish. Due to the different music and tempos in the one party space (can be indoors, can be out) you get a funny rabble of all sorts of out of rhythm jigging and out of tune singing. From the DJ’s point of view, you are competing for dancers, but in a nice subtle way as it’s not glaringly obvious if nobody is dancing to your tunes (the pressure’s off – I love this about silent disco djing!).  From the dancer’s or onlooker’s point of view it’s great fun to see who else is dancing to what you are dancing to. It’s a case of sidling up to people who have flung their hands in the air or started singing along to something en masse, and saying ‘I want what you are having!’ It’s basically very funny.

Silent disco doesn’t always suit the party, the atmosphere, the timing or the crowd.  You come to know when in an evening it’s a good idea to ‘go silent’ or if it’s even worth it. We have a friend who is an expert in organising (and going to) parties full stop and if there were ever PHDs given out for Studies in Silent Disco, she would be the first recipient and would get a First for sure.  She is our font of all knowledge when it comes to the art and science of silent disco and, what’s more, she has a large number of headsets for hire.  In fact when she is ready to launch her company I will be fully bigging it up! Until then, we can access those very headsets (at a competitive price!) and that scientific know-how in order to organise a brilliant silent disco for YOU.

Don’t think that any DJ will do, either. You can’t use a diva of a DJ with silent disco, as he or she will want to claim to himself all the glory of the tunes and the frenzied crowd of dancers.  The Dino Collective just want you to have a good time, by dancing to some great tunes. You give us the brief of what you want to hear – it’s not about us, it’s about YOU.

As you can see from the photos, silent disco can be for all ages (RIP Alan who enjoyed whiskey and dancing to the end). It can be used for different genres of music, film (just hook up a projector and you are ready to go), kids, outdoor parties, house parties where some people want to carry on chatting and not everybody wants to hear music or dance. It also seems to go very well with fancy dressing (you will see photographic evidence of some very fancy Mexican Day of the Dead outfits, don’t ask me why this theme goes so well with silent disco).  We have even done a silent disco in a teepee in a field in Surrey, but it didn’t seem too necessary to be silent when you have hectares of space around you and no complaining neighbours, so after a while we gave up on the silent bit and just did noisy disco.

If I have spurred you on to hold your own silent disco, you know what to do. Try it!

If you want help sourcing the headsets, organising the night or just getting us to dj for you, please get in touch via a comment or through our Facebook page.

Above all, enjoy!

Photo credit: most photos taken by the wonderful Jay Alix.

Deep down everyone’s a junglist (Freetime at the Ivy House, May 2015)

The thing about Freetime is that you never quite know what to expect.

Apart from good music of course.

Freetime is the one where we get to play what we want. No theme, just a space to play stuff, where you get to come and hang out with us in your ‘freetime’ if you want to. No pressure, nothing to pay on the door, just nice friendly vibes.

On Friday we were back to our favourite Freetime venue, the Ivy House, which has been saved by the people and is London’s first co-operatively owned pub, and all the more special for it (quick confession, I am a shareholder, but that doesn’t mean any of the above is untrue).

Music-wise we played Audio Bullys to Congo Natty via Marvin Gaye, The Beat and Ibibio Sound Machine. Kit-wise we got through two mixers and three decks, having to make a quick detour home mid-set to pick up our own equipment. We played everything on proper old vinyl. Dancers were typically shy at first (apart from the ‘there’s always one’ guy who couldn’t sit down from the off) but by the time we got to the jungle face-off between djs D Rex and Kamakiri, everyone was a junglist and was forming circles to out-skank each other on the dancefloor. We had some winners in the crew who had travelled from Cardiff to spend some freetime with us, but there were definitely a few contenders!

Technical hitches aside, we had a blast and here comes a massive big thanks to all of you who joined us. It was a lovely mixture of regular Dino Collective fans, old pals and I think we made a few new ones. Welcome to Freetime courtesy of Dino Collective, and if you want to keep updated, you can subscribe to this blog or join our Facebook page.

Here are some photos. Comment if you see yourself!

Bazooka Joe’s in Bordeaux: the commitment to disco

What began as a quirky idea to put on a Bazooka Joe’s night in France turned into a full-on disco mission when French air traffic controllers decided to strike on our day of departure, and we had to change our flight tickets to train tickets.

The ambitious (some might say crazy) idea to pack the whole disco into a disco case and take it to Europe weighed heavily on the two of us as we (mostly Dolly Debris, as she’s hard like that) swung the Samsonite up onto Eurostars and TGVs as we railed through England and then France. Changing only at Disneyland, would you believe.

It might have looked like chutzpah to hold a party in someone else’s town.  In fact it was more than that. This was a pure commitment to disco.

The venue, Paul’s Place, was situated in a most beautiful part of Bordeaux called Chartrons. The eponymous Paul is originally from Cambridge and moved to Bordeaux many years ago. Big on literature, he holds many events in Paul’s Place and serves meals every day of the week. I believe this was his first disco, however.

Paul was generous enough to allow us the run of the place for a couple of hours when he went out to stock up on cocktail ingredients. I don’t think he had fully prepared himself for the transformation from bar/restaurant to bingo hall/dancefloor!

Also super generous, local bordelais Benjamin Charles aka Michel Bananes Jr from fab local artists’ gallery N’a qu’1 oeil lent us his sound equipment, despite having a lot on his plate himself that weekend. Merci infiniment à Ben for this generosity. We really appreciate it!

This really was a Bazooka Joe’s just like the ones we have in Brockley (we only do them in places which start with a ‘B’ so watch out Berlin and Bognor Regis). From the lights, to the sweets, to the bingo prizes bought in Deptford, we really did take south London to Bordeaux. We had the same wigs, shoes, peach dresses and bingo balls that we usually have.  I repeat, all of this paraphernalia fits into 1 case of less than 20kg in order to fit into an Easyjet plane’s hold!

Our audience was made up of a brilliant European mix, due to the fact that we were (primarily) in Bordeaux on a work project. We are really indebted to all of you who came, not just French, but Lithuanian, Belgian, and Dutch too, as well as some Brits, friends and relatives of Paul. It was also fantastic to see my old pal Adeline from past Habitat days, so pleased you came Ad!

Anticipating that the Europeans might not appreciate our ‘ironic’ sense of humour and our unusual enjoyment of playing bingo, it was really great fun to see everyone partaking in the bingo, and some taking it more seriously than you might imagine, considering the prizes!  I find that bingo always brings out that competitive spirit! Also the French reputation for being slow or reluctant to dance was not too evident, as they whipped up a storm on the dancefloor!  Particularly impressive was the bodypopping and the knowledge of lyrics from the men when it came to classic tunes by The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash.  Going 80’s next time looks like a dead cert.

Apologies for the bad dancefloor pictures. As always, I ask for you to send me any photos you took if you were there as they will surely be better than mine. It’s always hard to multi-task as DJ/bingo mediator/translator/photographer, using just a phone to take photos.

Enfin, merci à Bordeaux de nous accepter! I know we have strange British ways but you have to admit they are kind of cute…

Bazooka Joe’s is back in Brockley in May. We are doing a special night on 30th May, the first Saturday of Brockley Max, upstairs at the Talbot Pub.  See you there!