Before Bennets: The Discos before 1982
What were the discos like, and where were they located within the Scottish gay scene, before the present and varied selection of established 'Gay clubs' existed in our larger cities? Today's clubs and discos are, to the majority of our younger gay crowd anyway, taken very much for granted I fear, and I wonder if they ever could imagine a gay scene where the discos were created by themselves for the enjoyment of their gay brothers and sisters. And they were.
These days are seldom talked about now, and any mention would have to relate to the period before 1982 when Bennets club was first launched in the Glasgow scene.
Some people are of the opinion that it was the Bennets launch that was the demise of the 'Gay Club' established by SHRG in Queens Crescent, Glasgow in 1981/1982. Edinburgh's gay scene at this time was still growing with Bill Granger's early 'Fire Island' disco attracting quite a few of the West coast 'jiggers' at the weekends, as well as the local SHRG dances for their members and friends. If you allow me to reminisce for a short while, back to those Paisley days before Bennets, I will try to enlighten and add a little piece of the bigger jigsaw that made up the Scottish gay scene in the West coast in relation to dancing your Calvins off before 1982.
A branch of the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group: (SHRG), the Paisley group, who operated out of the AUEW halls at Incle Street in Paisley, were responsible for establishing and organizing a regular monthly disco to augment their monthly funds. (There is a display of a selection of the disco tickets printed and photographs taken at these discos within the Becoming Visible exhibition.)
On a regular basis over a hundred people attended and enjoyed the SHRG Paisley discos , which were much looked forward to by members and friends alike from far and near. They were established and organized by the SHRG membership many of whom gave of their services and talents free of charge to help with the groups funds and the cause of gay rights in Scotland.
The actual act of organising a disco, especially a gay disco, was not only a project to help local funds and morale It was also a way of communicating our presence - of being visible and increasing the awareness of the local group's profile within the town or city in which they were based.
The disco organizing was composed of many individual component parts to make it complete. If you wanted a bar it required a public drink license and the required application form would have to be made in advance and signed for, stating the organisation applying for it.
Music would have to be arranged and for the Paisley SHRG Group we used a local D.J. whose business name was 'Cuddles Disco'.
The AUEW were very supportive throughout the SHRG organisation history and, as well as being the address of the local group, allowed the use of their main function hall as the disco location. Later the Students Union in Paisley, located in Hunter Street, was also used for the SHRG disco nights. Happy days and good memories for many who met their partners at these discos. We appreciated all their efforts very much more than today's disco bunnies ever will!
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