What I remember about school discos.

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My mum told me that she’d been to a ‘school disco’ themed birthday recently, which I could only see as a thinly veiled attempt by the birthday boy to get a load of middle aged women to wear short skirts and put their hair in pig-tails. I’m not holding anything against the man because to be honest, after 30 years of not being at school I guess you would start to miss those essential perks of the school uniform that become a given after spending your entire school career trying to see down Katie Clark’s top. Of course, reminiscing about how school discos used to be is in fact very far from the truth of the whole affair; no-one actually wore skirts that short, or tops that low cut, and (depending on what age you’re thinking) the boys did definitely not mix with the girls until towards the end of the night. Here are a few things that should put the record straight.

Sexual segregation

Why was it that every school dance fell straight in to the bottomless hole of this cliche? Why, one year, could someone not go all ‘Tom Cruise in Risky Business’ and slide across the floor on their knees, ending up with one of their hands grabbing a member of the opposite sex’s hand and pull them out on to the dance-floor (gym floor) and start swinging them round 50s style to a rapturous response from their fellow students? I know why; because if you even thought about doing that when you were 11 you’d soil yourself with the anticipation of a potential embarrassing ‘try and slide, but knees get stuck and you face-plant,’ moment.

Breakdancing

I don’t know about you, but at my school, regardless of what year you were in, there was always that one kid who thought that the school disco was the perfect opportunity to bust out his new break-dance moves. Of course it always looked shit and impressed no-one but I guess it at least gave him the satisfaction of going home that night and posting hurtful comments on youtube videos of other amateur b-boys, saying stuff like, ‘yo, I wud mop the floor with u bruv. i had da whole skool givin me luv 2nite wen i was breakin, buff girls and evrythin.’ Or something else equally as un-threatening. Another thing we had at our school was beat-boxing; most years someone would swagger up on to the stage and ruin an Eminem song, but it always got the best response of the night, I have no idea why.

The chaperone

Ah, bless the school disco chaperone. It was usually someone like the French assistant, to give pre-pubescent boys that feeling of actually being a club with like, older people and alcohol and stuff, and an older member of female staff who other teachers would describe (lamely) as ‘a bit kooky’. I’m not really sure what their role was at my school; they were supposed to be there to supervise but most the time ended up dancing with the loud popular kids to novelty songs like Steps or MC Hammer. One year the French assistant actually broke across that barrier of social convention and straight in to the wet dream of all the boys there when she started getting with a kid who was in his last year of school. She was fired though so don’t hold out any hope if you’re 11, in love with your French teacher, and have a disco coming up.

Hip Flasks

The days of raiding your parents liquor and pouring a little bit of each in to your dad’s hip flask in anticipation of events like this were amazing. Not only was all the alcohol free but you could somehow always drink most of your ‘gin/whiskey/vodka/rum/amaretto/brandy/whatever else you could find’ cocktail without spewing up immediately. If I tried doing that now I would be on my arse with a lap full of my last meal, gross.

Awkward Photos

When I say awkward I don’t mean that the situation was awkward, I mean the people in the photos always looked hella awkward. It might have had something to do with the fact that everyone was rocking braces, ill fitting collared shirts or dresses and non-ironic peace signs/metal horn hands around that stage of their lives, or that the guy they had just sent a text to saying ‘im nt sure if we shud get 2geva 2nite….ptb XxX’ was standing across the room gazing at them with that sense of rejected melancholy in their eyes that you only see in a broken hearted teenage boy. P.S, what the fuck was ‘ptb’ about? Who was ever that desperate?

The Slow Jam

You’ve been building yourself up for the last three weeks now, go on – just go over and ask her if she’d like to dance with you to R Kelly, it’s going to be the last dance for sure (always something slow but uplifting enough to give the end of the night that mega lulz factor, god, school disco DJs were good) this is your last chance, you don’t want to miss out on it now. Oh fuck, she’s sympathy dancing with that guy two years below you, that little prick, you did not want this – now you’re going to have to spend the next year cry-wanking in anticipation of a slow dance with her at the next school disco.

illustrations Cei Willis

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