Top Ten Songs I Loved To Dance To At The School Disco (Aged 12)
ever mind the once-termly ‘proper’ school discos; the kids in the know at TCC (Teignmouth Community College) would make their way to the Winterbourne Centre every Thursday night from 7-9pm for Junior Night, to partake in the Gauntlet console, 20p-a-game 8-ball pool and much joyous dancing (at least until they were in the fourth year, at which point hard drugs, dirty sex, underage-drinking and teenage pregnancies became a much greater going concern than ‘youth clubs’). TCC was gifted with two particularly clued-up DJs, who were in the fifth year when I started there as an 11-year old and who stayed on for two more years in the sixth form. Matthew was the well-spoken, clean-cut son of a school governor, the other one was a longhaired rocker with a nickname I can no longer recall, and together they made the greatest tag-team duo of cool an 11-year old could aspire to be like. Under their guiding hands the regulars of Junior Night were tutored in the ways of good music at an age when most of us were too damn young and naïve to realise how good we had it; I still shudder when I think of my school friends turning their backs on De La Soul in favour of Nirvana in Year 9 when the dynamic duo were no longer on hand to play us choice pieces of music. But still… I’ve never danced as much as I did when I was 12…
“Voodoo Ray” – A Guy Called Gerald
It seems strange that a posh boy and a longhair should be playing acid house classics at a bunch of 12-year olds, but it worked. I think I liked this at the time because of the word ‘voodoo’, which seemed unutterably wicked back then (n.b. use of the word ‘wicked’ is purely, um, due to reminiscence…).
“Can I Kick It?” – A Tribe Called Quest
As a 12-year old I received my first pair of Nikes, which were perfect for doing that ‘running on the spot’ dance to hip hop tunes on lino floors; I wasn’t bad at it, but Tom Maynard could jump up and do the splits and everything. And he had baggy trousers (although this may have been due to the fact that he was a good deal shorter than everyone else, even me). Sadly, my knees are now fucked after years of football abuse; I’ll never do the ‘running on the spot’ dance again. I still know the verses word-for-word, though.
“Ice Ice Baby” – Vanilla Ice
I was going to write about Adamski’s “Killer”, but to be honest I remember the TOTP performance much more than any airings it got at school discos (Adamski dressed in white overalls behind a bank of keyboards and a computer, Seal’s disembodied head [caveat; I may well be crossing-fertilising memories with the video here – it has been 14 years after all!] singing from a monitor). As much as people might cringe now, Vanilla Ice’s one and only hit was *gasp* fucking wicked, doubly so if you were 12, and uses the bassline to “Under Pressure” much better than Queen & Bowie did. Much ‘running on the spot’ dancing was done to this. Any credibility I ever had is running away with increasing rapidity, right?
“Temptation” – New Order
I like to pretend I don’t like New Order just to wind-up various members of the Stylus staff, but the truth is that, like any decent human being, I’ve got a place in my heart for their singles. Especially this one. If you were 12 at the same time as me you wouldn’t be able to resist that chorus either, and with good reason – it’s fantastic.
“Dub Be Good To Me” – Beats International
I was 16 by the time I found out this ripped-off The Clash, and to be honest, as much as I love London Calling, I prefer this to “The Guns Of Brixton”. Whoever it is who’s done that new tune which samples it, that also pinches the vocal melody, is just lazy.
“There’s No Other Way” – Blur
Take this as also including “Sit Down” by James, “The Only One I Know” by The Charlatans, “Loose Fit” by Happy Mondays, plus The Farm, Flowered Up and anyone else who got on the ‘indie band with a funky drummer’ bandwagon that E-heads like to reminisce about as being part of ‘the second summer of love’ (even though these singles all came out in about 1991, three years after house hit in 88) but which is actually a load of hoary old shite. Anyway, no matter how sodden with shit any particular genre may be, there are always bound to be gems amidst the crap, and “There’s No Other Way” is leagues ahead of The Farm or The Mock Turtles. And a damn site better than Blur’s own “Bang”, which was shocking.
“Hear The Drummer Get Wicked” – Chad Jackson
If you could hear the Chuck D sample in the middle of this and not lose your shit then you simply weren’t human – 13 or so years later it still sounds absolutely amazing; the break is perfect, and that sax line is the dirtiest, coolest thing EVER. It’s no wonder I love The Chemical Brothers when I consider that I was basically raised on this, in musical terms. “Bass! Unity! Love! And havin’ fun!”
“Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J
Made me feel like a boxer when I was 12 and still makes me feel like a boxer now. It’s astonishing how quiet this record sounds by today’s standards – I remember it knocking the fucking roof off the youth club at the time.
“Groove Is In The Heart” – Deee-Lite
I’m on record as saying “I Want You Back” is the greatest single ever; I’d like to detract that. It’s the second greatest single ever. This is the greatest single ever, and bizarrely enough marks Q-Tip’s second appearance in this Top Ten. Q-Tip, if you’re reading, please, please, please work with Timbaland.
“Pump Up The Volume” – M/A/R/R/S
It was a straight toss-up between this and Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam”. I chose this over Belgium’s finest club banger because, well, I’ve gotta try and keep some dignity.