I was driving to work this morning, thinking how lucky I was that it only takes an hour and a half and that it’s payday tomorrow. When Status Quo came on Radio 2 (I listen to Radio 2 because I am old, and bald, and fat – and because one day, Chris Evans might make reference to the two books that I sent for him and the team to have a read of – But I shan’t be holding my breath, because: implied advertising / BBC / not in this day and age / Oh blimey no, more than my job’s worth.)
And it certainly wouldn’t happen this week (or next week) as he’s currently off and Sara Cox is filling in for him – And it’s his Birthday today (1/4/15 – April Fool’s day… Figures)– Happy Birthday Chap
So, got hit a bit with the tangent-bat there didn’t we? Back to The Quo. Now, I can’t actually remember which track it was that they played. It wasn’t Caroline, or Rocking all over the World and in fairness it doesn’t matter as my vision did the whole ‘biddle-biddle-biddle’ thing and I was transported back to 1985 and a sticky-floored nightclub in Derby called…
Now, I’ve spoken about The Rockhouse before, if you remember it’s where those nice, friendly ladies, Rockbitch, played and my gibbon-armed colleague managed to investigate their anatomy quite closely a few times. In the late 80’s – early 90’s. It was pretty much my second home. I had a lot of ‘experiences' there, but the one that came to mind in this particular instance was one that happened most weekends (if a particular instance can happen repeatedly that is)
You know a particular song that has a dance routine? I’m thinking of things like The Macarena and suchlike. Or how in any given Hollywood film that features a dance-number there’s a bit where all the ‘normal’ extras clear off and are replaced by ‘super-pretty’ extras who launch into a spectacularly choreographed routine featuring a song that the leading man has only just written?
There’d be a time when the DJ would play Status Quo… Any Status Quo track would do*, and two lines of greasy biker/rocker/grebo types would line up facing each other like the chorus line of Mad-Max the musical and ‘spread’ – Now you’ve probably seen this dance even if you’ve not known what it is, it happens a lot at birthday discos for 40 & 50 somethings and wedding receptions where the just-pre-elderly enjoy embarrassing the youngsters. It consists of a number of people (Well, I suppose one person can spread, but it’s probably the saddest sight in the world) standing, facing each other and then sort of moving the top half of their bodies, forcefully, left and right with the beat whilst leaving their bottom halves immobile.
I’m not describing this hugely well am I?
But you know what I mean right? Believe it or not, there was a hierarchy of ‘spreaders’…
Right at the bottom were the ‘swayers’ – The people who really didn’t know what was going on and just wanted to be part of something larger than themselves. They would look, nervously, along the spreading line whilst flopping about whilst repeatedly falling out of time with everyone else. They were often felled by impromptu accidental head-butts. I guess that you’d call them n00bs nowadays.
Then you had the ‘loopers’ – The ones who put their thumbs in the belt-loops of their jeans as they had seen on Top of the Pops the week before… This was a common misunderstanding by ‘trendies’ and this was a dance more associated with the bands The Bay City Rollers & Mudd in the previous decade. This is the style you’d mostly see at parties.
Then, above the ‘loopers’ by quite a large amount, were the ‘punchers’. These were the first rank of ‘real’ spreaders. The dance itself was very simple, you twisted to the right for two beats, looking down, then moved your head/hands to the upper left for a beat, then to the upper right for a beat, then down and left for two beats (Repeat ad nauseum – sometimes quite literally) – A ‘puncher’ is identified by a punching motion during the upper two beats, often with the opposite hand. Occasionally, people stood next to punchers were rendered unconscious due to standing too close… More often than not, during a guitar solo.
Right at the top of the tree you have the ‘Ninjas’ or ‘Aces’ – These people are the elite. They’ve been spreading to Status Quo songs since before Frank & Ricky were touring in Frank’s Dad’s Ice-Cream van singing about Matchstick men. Their bodies move like heated quicksilver, they watch with impunity as the people next to them in line fall to the floor in exhaustion. Where ‘punchers’ punched the air, the ‘ninjas’ would use an open hand in such graceful movements as ‘clearing away the mystic wind’ and the ever popular ‘if you only touch it gently, it’s not technically masturbation’. There was no sweating from them, no heavy breathing, and no excuses. And you could tell who they were even if they weren’t dancing for two easily spotted tell-tale features:
- 1) They wore crowns and ermine capes – A bit like Freddie Mercury’s
- 2) They had ‘trap’ muscles (the ones that join your head to your shoulders) like a steroid-addled cardassian weight-lifter from all of the forcefull bobbing about
I’m proud to say I was eventually one of their number, it took me years to work my way from being a humble ‘swayer’ through the ranks of myriad ‘punchers’ to the heady heights of ‘Ninja’dom.
What did it earn me, other than the undying respect of my peers? you ask.
Well I'll tell you...
I could legally ask one of the lower ranked customers to give me a piggy-back across the 18” of flooded gents’ toilet. And they told me who could turn off the security cameras whilst I became ‘better acquainted’ with various young ladies on the fire escape outside, rather than televising it in HD on the stage projector.
(OK, so technically that only happened once, but it was a very long time ago. And it wasn't to me, honest.)
'They' say you should dance like no-one's watching. I beg to differ, I say you should dance like everyone's watching, but that might be 'cos I'm a massive show-off - Or a bit of a cock.
*and possibly ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Doctor & the Medics but not all the time.