Clubbers at the Astoria in 2000 photographed by Derek Ridgers
◼ HERE’S A PROMO VIDEO FEATURING some preposterous talking heads who include photographer Yasmine Akim and dancer Constantine Flowerz, describing a new large-format book of spicy photographs from Derek Ridgers’ travels through London clubland… The Dark Carnival: Portraits from the Endless Night is being published next week by Carpet Bombing Culture.
If you’re in it, you’ll be on the list for the launch party on Friday 27th from 5pm at the Lights of Soho gallery, followed on by a free Soho Swag night from 9.30pm at the 68 and Boston bar at the top end of Greek Street, hosted by 80s shapers Christos Tolera and Chris Sullivan.
The Dark Carnival is Derek’s second book published this month. He modestly calls it “my 40-year wander through nightclubs” but this delicous cornucopia selected by Derek himself proves much more of an adult shocker where anything goes on the themes of sexuality, seduction and shame (lack of), with eye-poppers shot at Anarchy, Smack, Submission, Wacko, Wicked, Rubber Ball and coming right up to date at Torture Garden.
Anonymous clubber in Brixton 2011 photographed by Derek Ridgers
AUDIO UPDATE: ROBERT ELMS INTERVIEWS DEREK ON BBC RADIO LONDON 9 dec 2015
+++ Q: Does this kind of nightlife still exist?
“Yes it does. It’s not quite so focussed today and readily categorisable. Hardly any of the little basement clubs are left in Soho. I think the St Moritz is the only one” – Derek Ridgers on BBC Radio London
◼ AIRED TODAY AT YOUTUBE: A long-lost live performance by London’s Latin jazz-soul band Blue Rondo à la Turk on German TV in 1983 complete with classic dance breaks from Moses and Sullivan in Aubrey Beardsley hair-do. The line-up dates from about 1982–3: Chris Sullivan and Christos Tolera (vocals), Moses Mount Bassie (sax), Art Collins (sax), Peter Tsegona (trumpet), Geraldo Darbilly (percussion), Greg Parker (guitar), Robin Jones (congas/percussion), Kito Poncioni (bass) and Daniel White (keyboards).
At this time Sullivan says: “Mark Reilly had left to form Matt Bianco. Kito carried on for a few months as he needed the money.” Then he and Daniel White left to join Matt Bianco which enjoyed several UK hits. By the time Blue Rondo released its second album album, Bees Knees and Chicken Elbows in 1984, the band had sadly disintegrated. Their first album Chewing the Fat was easily the best new album of 1981 in terms of musicality and attitude. Sullivan of course went on to run Soho’s Wag Club for 19 years and make it a legendary showbiz rendezvous.
Maestro’s in Glasgow, 1981: suited and zooted onstage are Blue Rondo vocalists Chris Sullivan and Christos Tolera
◼ “HERE’S A NEW BLUE RONDO REMIX — at last we’ve got it right. Recorded in 1981 … remixed in 2012.” So says the Latin-funk combo’s founder and frontman Chris Sullivan on Facebook today, after posting on Soundcloud a pacy instrumental mix of the London clubland band’s first hit, Me & Mr Sanchez, which stayed four weeks in the UK chart in 1981. Wait for the virtuosi to open up in the second half.
In the topmost pic we see vocalist Sullivan onstage demonstrating his northern soul choreography alongside sidekick Christos Tolera. This pic was taken during Blue Rondo’s promotional tour for their debut single at Glasgow’s trendiest nightspot Maestro’s on 6 Nov 1981, the day of its release. As a former fashion student at St Martin’s School of Art, Sullivan almost single-handedly introduced the zoot suit to Soho’s nightclub scene, and designed styles for both himself as leader of the band and for Tolera and Beat Route host Ollie O’Donnell, among many others.
Under its full name of Blue Rondo à la Turk, the stylish seven-piece was among the first of the Blitzworld’s new image bands to change the musical gear of 1981, in their case towards a tongue-in-cheek collage of carnival rhythms inspired by the Brubeck era of jazz. If you visit Soundcloud you’ll also find a fresh 2012 remix of the single, complete with vocals. “Mark Reilly did the lion’s share,” says Sullivan, referring to Rondo’s guitarist, who still flies the flag for his band Matt Bianco, which he formed in 1983 with the late Kito Poncioni and Daniel White, both Rondo members. The new remixes have been brought about only now because “it has taken us a few years to get the masters back,” Sullivan says. “More to follow as well.”
❚ THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE opens on August 17 in the UK, but apparently without Christos Tolera, actor, socialite and in the 80s singer with the Latin combo Blue Rondo à la Turk. He’d been cast in a wonderful cameo role in the film of the TV series — until this Wednesday, when he made this tear-stained announcement on Facebook …
“ My agent received a call today from the producer on The Inbetweeners movie. Having been featured in the trailer for the last month, been inundated with messages of people having seen it, i was today informed i have been cut from the movie due to time constraints. If you were planning to see this film to see a glimpse of me, don’t bother. Gutted. ”
So for all of his fans the video above has rescued that lost scene, cut from the latest trailer as well as the movie. But it is dedicated especially to Christos himself, as a tribute to a man who has entertained us in so many ways over 30 years. His co-stars are Blake Harrison as Neil and James Buckley as Jay, from the C4 TV series The Inbetweeners. The film sees the four 18-year-old lads who are its stars heading off to the buzzing resort of Malia, one of Europe’s hedonistic hotspots for mainly young British tourists on the Greek island of Crete.
In Malia: Jay spots Kristie behind her camera
The new official trailer isn’t worth the celluloid it’s printed on (*spits*), but the locally shot video by Malia TV [below] gives the flavour of the place. A second clip is a gem shot by a British holidaymaker called Kristie who caught the film crew at work on main strip, Malia Beach Road. It’s pretty obvious that Jay (left, in red) has spotted the girl behind the camera, and she’s definitely in with a chance ;)
MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapersofthe80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
A UNIQUE HISTORY
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❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
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UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational new book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
✱ Jawing at Soho Radio on the 80s clubland revolution (from 32 mins) and on art (@55 mins) is probably the most influential shaper of the 80s, former Wag-club director Chris Sullivan (pictured) with editor of this website David Johnson
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