I am almost certain that the music that gets played at School Disco.com (though what is with that stupid suffix?) is more enjoyable than the music that gets played at Cream, but I still share the undercurrent of unease running through Alexis Petridis’ article. Why? For one thing the transformation of hazy memory into boozy reality seems somehow wrong. What was a school disco, after all? It was an imitation of an adult disco, where kids could play-act what they thought happened in discos. So School Disco.com is a re-enactment of an imitation.
What you felt when you shuffled to ‘Careless Whisper’ in 1985, hoping for a snog or even a halfways glance, was a thrill based partly on your stumbling towards ‘real’ discos, towards being adult. You had no accurate idea of what that might mean, and so the school disco was a place you could start to test your guesses: that’s why they’re so sharp in the memory. But with School Disco.com that ambiguity, that possibility, is missing — school discos were enticing and terrifying because you had no idea what would happen or what anything that did happen might mean; the promoters of School Disco clubs know exactly what will happen and advertise accordingly.
So that’s my somewhat esoteric reason for not liking School Disco. The other theme in Petridis’ article is the decline of the ‘superclubs’ and — it is hinted — UK clubland in general: Petridis has come, mournfully, to bury the ‘acid house’ era. Now if that era is over it surely has nothing much to do with School Disco.com — Petridis links its rise with Cream et al.’s fall, yes, but the founder of SchoolDisco seems to strike a truer note. ‘People can go to a garage night or see Judge Jules one night, come to School Disco the next.” But they don’t, says Petridis — if they don’t, though, it’s cause the audiences for the two are different, not because the one is poaching the other.
But I’m not convinced Mr. Disco is wrong — at Glastonbury last weekend wherever there was dance music being played there were people finding time and space to dance to it. Just not exclusively — what’s on the wane, I’d guess (and I’m really no expert) isn’t club culture but the idea of club culture as an exclusive, self-contained space in British pop life. Getting off your tits and dancing to house music doesn’t stop being fun because someone down the road has a few Shakin’ Stevens records, but the momentum and novelty (of the music, of the drugs) which let people really evangelise about dance music has surely dissipated. What would be the point? We are all clubbers now.