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Too Gruel For School

The curtains were drawn on a lovely sunny afternoon, hushed expectant crowds gathered around the dance floor occasionally giggling and whispering swigging on bottles of fizzy pop as the flashing lights suddenly burst into action. The first opening bars of ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet blasts out of the six foot high light festooned speakers from ‘Dave The Rave’ and his mobile disco, for it is said that during the eighties all mobile disco DJ’s must be called Dave and slowly the school hall starts to see movement as pupils push each other out onto the dance floor, giggling and pulling their friends.

Dave tries to inject a bit of enthusiasm by occasionally shouting out something inaudiable and ramps it up by playing Abba. Girls flock to Dave, a forty year old divorcee who invested the small amount of income he still has in a twenty foot metal disco rig with flashing lights, two mega speakers and ten cases full of singles in a last attempt to woo. Dave bathes in all the attention and conjures up images of his rock star lifestyle on the road with his passion wagon as he calls his white transit van. Girls swoon and Dave raves on with a bit of Queen ignoring the boys attempts to get him to play the Clash or Sex Pistols.

It’s not long before everyone is sitting on the floor doing ‘Rock The Boat’ and feeling that buried terror that is the slow dance creep up on you. There it is, Dave has played your worst nightmare as 10cc’s I’m Not In Love kickstarts the obligatory slow dance and you stand petrified, petrified that you won’t be picked and absolutely mortified and petrified if somebody does approach you. If you did manage to shuffle to the dancefloor with somebody for the slow dance you then awkwardly shuffled around looking at hysterical friends pulling rude gestures until the music ends and you part quicker than a cork from a bottle.

School Disco’s, a staple of school life often dreaded by pupils and teachers alike so why, oh why have we ended up with school proms?

School disco’s were naff beyond belief but they at least gave us a few cheesy memories with little expectations, today proms are more than a disco they are a chance to live out your own celebrity music video fantasy complete with expensive cars, bling, make up, dresses, suits, indeed everything you would love to have when you make it big as a celebrity. And the expense! All of this costs money which I’m sure puts pressure on families budgets. Invariably Proms work the wrong way round, they raise expectations of the real world and you get one day at the end of school life that invariably you will not live up to as soon as you leave school and the harsh reality of earning a living kicks in.

Oh hum, that’s Mr Getting Old kicking in no doubt, next I’ll be advocating caning, gruel for meals and a return to slate boards and standing in a corner for punishment. The change of schools discos are only indicative of the whole school system though with a move to keep pupils entertained. Gone are the days of dusty classrooms on a warm afternoon ploughing through a Shakespeare play or harsh cross country punishment in PE during the winter months but I still have a nagging feeling that maybe we could do with a return to some of the old methods, after all I turned out fine even though I see imaginary creatures, write obscure drivel on a daily basis, paint upside down and have the ability to make up new words like Bobbledongle and Flampant.

School discos did alter my expectations though. For example if I hear Dancing In The Moonlight I expect to be physically sick and I expect to come out in a rash during 10cc’s I’m Not In Love. The only bonus was that I got to learn dad dancing from the teachers.

Great expectations during my childhood?

Yes, if it’s a school disco expect it to be crap.


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