Monday, 4 August 2008

Was it all it was Cracked up to be?

Our Church, The Temple of Funk, Synagogue of Soul, our Jinja of Jazz.

Crackers 1976 - 1979

It`s Sunday night and i have a meet with the boys.....They would always be found lounging on the railing outside Holcroft Court on Clipstone Street, W1....A short exhange of "Easy yeah...ready" and we`d be off weaving our way through the small streets of Fitzrovia to Oxford Street....Timmy dancing instead of walking and Mickey and me talking toooons.

Destination "CRACKERS" Night club.

We`d finally reach and the queue`s already 50 deep down towards Noel Street, but this never worried us as our mate was on the door...the line of dancers assembled was a who` who of the soul/funk/jazz clubbing fraternity...Shakesy, Mohammad, BP, PF and H, BKS in his deerstalker, Jazz dancers and pineapple studio goers, all ready for the evenings sweat down.
We`d sit on the inevitable parked cars right outside the entrance so we could catch the sounds waffling up the stairs and out into the clear night. Sometimes we`d hear a tune and immediately jump up and start dancing in the road, which would always seem to amuse the doorman, but the other clubbers, used to look at us as though we was off our rockers!! and we was. Totally engrossed with the sounds, we wouldn`t give a monkey`s what people thought and didn`t try to look or act cool...fuck dat, those Basslines were way to good to care....As soon as the Q had emptied we`d head down in the knowledge that this underground cavern was the ultimate in dancing heaven..

Crackers was a shit-hole really, the stench of sausage & chips they included in the price of admittance would overwhelm you, as you descended the last few steps. But the evenings entertainment would be salubrious none the less. We`d make a bee-line for the seats right of the stage area, plonk down our bags, containing a towel, Chelsea boots and change of T-shirt for when you left into the fresh night air. Now, with footwear changed we were ready, grab a juice from the bar and survey the scene.

It`s dark & hot already , the only light is on Stage where the DJ is doing his thang, George P was an unlikely DJ in this setting, a 40 year old Greek guy from Norf london but who was on the pulse of the young soul rebels of London town. Everyone is getting down to the same rhythm and there are no inhibitions. A mixed crowd of 70/30 Black & White and not a fight to be seen, although sometimes getting close. You see, it was the battle of the day, not with guns or weapons, but peoples they slipped, slide and pirouetted there way around the dancefloor...Soon a couple of the faces would start cranking up the moves and a crowd would gather round them, whopping their approval, if you got too close you would be kicked, as the spins came think and fast, or splashed in the face with the sweat dripping off their muscular bodies..It was quite a cliquey scene, many people knew each other, Soulboys & girls from Essex, the West side, Sarf & Norf London, a right melting pot of movement. We always felt a bit intimidated but we were the West End kids and didn`t care too much for that, we was having sooooo much fun...It seemed like a perfect world to be in.

Eddie Henderson - Say you will

And it was, I felt it deep in my own soul...the basslines, horn sections, uplifting vocals and down right dirty drums....The hybrid funk of a generation.
The last tune of the evening would inevitably be a slowie, so whoever had been eyeing each other up all night, could get it Onnn!!! After the needle of the citronic deck slipped off the last piece of warm analogue vinyl, the whole assembled mass, would cheer, whistle and clap Georgie P and scream " more"..but that was it, we`d have to wait until next Friday lunchtime for our next fix of narcotic Soul.

Bobby Womack - Daylight

As the crowd would be ushered out by the doorman, we`d hang back until the very last, savoring the special feeling of tired limbs and drenched to the toilets for a quick douse around the armpits, dry off and change back into my converse for the short walk home. Climbing the stairs, peeps would be saying their farewells as they entered, cool early morning London, hanging around outside, causing a roadblock for the mini-cabs at the top of Wardour Street, discussing other clubs and arranging meets at , Bali Hai in Stratham, The Goldmine & Lacy Lady in Essex, Frenchies in Camberley, these were all suburban clubs, except Gullivers in Mayfair, which we always had trouble to get into being so young, but we did try!.
We never ventured out to those suburban places, not having any wheels between the 3 of us and in no way could afford a mini-cab home, and why should we, we had it all on our own doorstep so to speak and or so we thought....Crackers, Ronnie Scott`s,100 club & Spatz, that seemed enough for us at the time....But that was all about to change. I`d walk back with the guys to their flats and say our "Laters" had been another great fucking evening and with a smile on my face, I`d head back home to hit the sack.....but not before i heard just one more Toon. I`d reach for the cassette radio......Play!

Ramp - Daylight

Hear Mark Roman's 3 part Crackers Story..

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