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There is no story sadder than the story about the Soviet disco

Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке


Frame from the movie “Saturday night Fever” (1977), in which John Travolta famously our otplyasyvala under the disco tunes of the Bee Gees.


The elements of dance, as ancient as the humanity, rarely someone in his youth was left untouched. Even those who said he did not want to waste time on “draganja feet”, so hide their shyness. And dance in his youth all want. For where else in the transition from quantity to quality, the young bodies of different sexes can merge in ecstasy with each other? Only in the dance. Another thing is that at different times and in different societies this rhythmic sexual foreplay is being heralded in different ways. In Soviet society, of course, has its own specifics. Associated it was not with the fact that sex in the USSR was not. Declare that sex in the USSR was, and even what! In any other country in frenzied sperm could make the young Soviet Romeo, with the risk of breaking your neck to climb (with a bottle of port wine in my jacket pocket) on the balcony closed at night, dormitories for some of the eighth floor, where he awaited his trembling Desdemona flushed exceeding the daily plan for komvolno-cloth Combinate. Together with Desdemona in the same room, there were a few desdemonas friends, who sedately took their share of port wine, and then off to bed, pretending not to hear furious squeaking rejsebureau in death obsadnoj beds and the wild wheezing of Romeo and Juliet. In the Soviet Union was sex, there were, no doubt. Now such is not present. But if sex, it had to be organized and dancing, which was agreed between the young Soviet builders of communism. Now we will discuss this in detail – I mean, about dancing and not about sex.

Only advance warning that everything here will be discussed below, relates to a tube Brezhnev of the USSR, that is, the period of the late 70’s-early 80-ies. Under Gorbachev, much has changed for the better in terms of dance entertainment for the youth. When I’m in the part of the student apertured in the late ‘ 80s in the cinema “Star” was guarded by a disco from attempts to penetrate foreign no young people in the capital of the USSR, would be impressed by the abundance at the disco all the spinning and sparkling in all directions, gizmos, and various excellent speakers, comparing that with the wretchedness that has fallen to my high school years. Yes, under Brezhnev, this was not.

When the Soviet Union entered the word “disco” can not say. Anyway, at the end of the 70’s that word very firmly entrenched to denote dancing-mantsev-obeisances varying degrees of saturation. Even the cynical were jokes this is roughly the content: “Today we have in the camp disco! The gunner Hans brought two new drives!” Everyone knew the game multi-layered meaning of this short anecdote. Interestingly, those who were born and raised out of the Soviet environment, clear this joke? However, this is not important.

Dancing. Frame from the movie “inception”
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

To appear in the lexicon of Soviet youth of the word “disco” dance was called plain and simple – dances. In the late 60s – early 70s in the warm season the young people were making out to the music on the special dance or answerand. In the film “the Beginning” (1970) and “Big change” (1973) visual you can watch this the dance floor.

Dance floor. Frame from the movie “Big break”.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

However, if you check out such movies as “In my death I ask blame Klava K.” (1979), “the Heiress in a straight line” (1982) or “can’t say goodbye” (1982), we see firsthand that in the late 70’s-early 80’s, these dance floors have not gone away.

Police and vigilantes in front of the entrance to the dance floor. Shot from a film “In my death I ask blame Klava K”.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

Because it was the cheapest way of dancing.

Frame from the film “the Heiress in a straight line”
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

A piece of asphalt approximately circular surface and a small stage – nothing more is necessary.

A scene from the movie “can’t say goodbye”
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

In the cooler time of the year you can dance it in a café or restaurant. As shown, for example, in the movie “Kinfolk” (1981) or “gold mine” (1978).

Dancing in the restaurant. Shot from a film “Relatives”.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

However, in cafes and restaurants could dance and summer. Generally, in restaurants people danced more solid, so to speak, and the dance – youth and those who are simpler.

Iiii-iiiih! Frame from the film “gold mine”
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

There were also dancing in the lobby of a House of culture and cinema, as shown in the film “Afonya” (1975).

Frame from the film “Afonya”
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

Until the early 80s, people danced mainly under “live music” that is under bazanye some local BAND, which was usually sung songs that the moment was at the hearing. Usually in Soviet films, when shown the statement for some group, usually behind the scenes sounded quite professionally recorded “plywood”. The most authentic sounding self-made group, I found only in a film “to marry the captain” (1985).

Dance is usually played “Amateur”, or Amateur group. Stills from the film “to marry the captain”.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

This cute self-made sound that is given to such nostalgia. I. well, perhaps, as the authentic self-made sound “Amateur teams” to recommend songs from the film “Patsany” (1983).

Shot from a film “Boys”.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

However, all that I described above, was dancing mostly already Mature for Soviet citizens, who have long finished school. And the students that red? They also want to dance. And maybe even more than adults. Because it is needed.

If you take the summer camp where I was sent to serve the promotion of summer holidays Soviet pioneers usually the schedule was built this way: one day after dinner, movie and dancing. By the way, in the 70s – and the last time I was in summer camp in 1979 – the dance was called dancing.

The dances were very simple. They usually took place in the hall of the camp club (Hey you, the gunner Hans!) or tantsverande if it was the place to be. The radio operator set any records and the pioneers danced. Here approximately so, as shown in the film “Hundred days after childhood” (1975). Some very fine foreign hits I can’t remember. The most hits was the Soviet song: “do You remember floated in the air, when went out two stars, but now it is clear to me that it was me and tayyyy” and “the French side on an alien planet” – it was songs all the summer camp I’ve ever been to. The rest is optional.

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Shot from a film “to marry the captain”. It dances in selskom the club, not pionerlagerya, but the difference is not great.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

Any lighting design was not. Just the hall of the club, sometimes even with normal light – though in the second half of the 70s people began to beg the counselors to make easy “sex”, that is slightly to dim the lights.

Adult pioneers danced to “grown-up”, that is, pressed bodies and minds to each other. Bugs of the youngest squads danced “pioneer”. For those who have not been there, I will explain. This is when the pioneer and the pioneer dance with each other at a distance of outstretched arms. And look in different directions. The pioneer hands on the waist of a pioneer, pioneer hands on his shoulders slightly. All very proper and chaste.

Fast dancing (well, under the same “French party”) and danced in a circle, almost exactly as it did the hunters of the upper Paleolithic, before you go hunting. Only pioneers copy. Rather sometimes, of course, was carefully made from the bushes of hazel, but dancing spears was offered. From security concerns to counselors is not selected.

On the photo: Installation of equipment for discos on a summer scene p/l “Eaglet”, 1984. Author: Smirnov Igor
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

But summer camp is just summer. And what, during the training of Soviet students were not dancing? Danced. To the school auditorium, as a rule. Sometimes there were cool of the evening is when all the decorum drank tea with cookies and danced to born someone records, scrollable on a cool broken-down player. But there have been from time to time and a school night. And here we come to the interesting part.

So, back to the disco. As I said, I don’t know when this word entered the lexicon of Soviet youth. But when it came, there was an understanding that the disco is something more transcendental than just a banal dance. Dancing is a normal space and the ensemble (VIA the group) on stage, not very gracefully singing a different song sheet (sometimes, horror of horrors, even singing in English). But disco is… what is it?

Well, obviously, disco is somehow connected with the discs. Not with the discs of gunner Hans, of course, but the drives on which recorded songs in the style – and it’s no surprise – in the disco style. But at least, not disco, not the essence. Importantly, it was the songs which you can dance – ballads and anything rhythmic.

Photo: Olympic village. Disco. 1980. Author:Vitaly Saveliev
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

However, there lurked the first ambush. Disks normal groups in the USSR were full Alles kaput, as would say Savva Ignatievich. Where to get them? It was a very small number of disks Western groups, released under license on the firm “Melody”. For example, were the discs of the group “ABBA” or “Boney-M”. But will not on each disco to drive the same. And besides, by the early 80s ABBA and Boney-M was not so popular as earlier. People have heard about Donna summer, about… – well, heard a lot of things. Where can I take the drive, for example, with the song super popular in the early ‘ 80s, the song “Hotel California” group “Eagles”? Or the same Pink Floyd with his soul razdiraemyj Medscape? No, of course, other citizens were their drives these groups. But what a moral man to a disco in the school will give the disc the cost in father’s wages, so it played on some of the Soviet lasciviousness, an evil sneer called a player for phonograph records.

No, their drives and all plates (“layers”) for the Soviet school disco was not an option. But the second half of the 70s, Soviet radio-electronic industry from scratch, but began to produce a decent enough reel-to-reel tape recorders and some of the houses were such recorders. By the way just say those who begin in the comments to fill in, saying that these recorders in the Soviet Union was all. Fuck you Nana, not at all. Just few people had good reel-to-reel tape recorders. And by that time – late 70s – early 80s – before the broad masses of the youth realized that the sound on the disco should be as loud and as high-quality, and not some terrible wheeze and crackle. In General, anyway, needed a reel-to-reel tape recorder of high quality. Or rather, even two tape recorders. Why two? And now I will explain the technology of the preparation for the disco, then you’ll understand.

Because, as we found out, these disks in the Soviet school disco was excluded, therefore, could not be carried out what makes the DJ, and that is only going to lose one song that immediately puts the disc with another song and thus, a huge pack of disks at any time may select and deliver the desired song. Magnetic tape is almost eliminated. Therefore, in the Soviet conditions for discos specially prepared tape consisting of pre-selected songs. Thus, on one tape was the tape, which was then supposed to lose at the disco, and from the second tape to the first recorded those or other compositions. That is, tape-source constantly put new coil with albums of different groups, they were desired song and then recorded on the first tape. And so song after song for several hours. Of course you have not recorded one coil, and with several to spare. Of course, all this was done much ahead of time.

With sound too, at the very least to the early ‘ 80s has become better. At least in the schools already there, maybe not top class, but more or less decent amplifiers and speakers, which were connected during the disco reel-to-reel tape on which the spun film prepared with all the songs.

So, the room we have Assembly hall. The instrument is – reel tape recorder and amplifier with two columns (usually this was the limit of acoustic equipment for school discos). Music also have several coils for about 3 hours, and even more pre-recorded. So, hold a disco?

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Right now! And the light? What is a disco without lights? And with that, in terms of tube Brezhnev’s Soviet Union was the ambush.

Amplifier with speakers was in school (and sometimes anybody of the students), reel-to-reel tape recorders were not all, but still find them too, does not pose any special difficulty. But where can I get the disco lights? She’s just not sold in the Soviet stores. It was not such household goods as “Lumiere” in the USSR. What to do?

And here began the work. What you need for lights? In fact, two elements: an electronic device that accepts input from the audio signal, and the output connected to the blocks of light bulbs, which it actually conducts. Thus, the problem of light and music broke up into two problems: where to get electronic device that, in fact, provides all the beauty of the flashing bulbs, and, second – where to get blocks of light bulbs for strobe lights.

The first problem used to be solved by some very advanced in electronics as a schoolboy. By itself, the scheme lights – not the binomial theorem, to solder it is not difficult. But in the conditions of developed socialism, as you know, the challenge is to get her details, especially thyristors. But cut to the soldering people usually had their secret places where they all found – somewhere, bought something, found something at the dump, in General, got out. However in the end, the music was some essence scattered on a table with a bunch of twisted wires and it had to be very careful to carry. I actually have never seen radiobaliza, who had the patience to find all the parts (without the help of Soviet trade) and solder them as necessary, would be enough after this patience to for their offspring to more or less decent housing. Seems hams really do not like carpentry or metal work. And only in the army, I first saw a homemade light-could be packaged in such a beautiful – homemade – the body that looks real.

Something like that looked homemade Lumiere, for which I forgot to make the body.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

But back to the disco. So Lumiere as any. On – light blocks. We have it to do so. First of particleboard were made with drawers with front cover with circular holes under Lama (usually four holes on the box). That chipboard in Soviet shops was also desperate not to buy it, so all we had to look at the dumps, to beg workers to steal finally (tube USSR). And these holes peredelyvalis reflectors from the headlights of trucks. Needless to say that these reflectors from the headlights too, never sold and came from the organizers of discos, the terrible searches where necessary. Well, there already to each reflector has peredelyvala cartridge with a cap under an ordinary lamp. Well it all was going as expected.

Lamp it was possible to take the ordinary and paint. And you could roll out the festive street lights that, as you know, for the Soviet youth, which is preferable.

Photo: homemade block Lam for the light and music. Some of these self-made things today, even sells.
Нет повести печальнее на свете, чем повесть о советской дискотеке

Sometimes, by the way, the craftsmen were not confined to the Lumiere in the form of flashing lights, but also produced a strobe light. Also an interesting topic, and also everything was done on the grazing of what they have. But what was the effect!

Well, everything seems ready. However, as they say, there is no limit to perfection. For a good disco at the time useful mirror ball that is spinning under the ceiling and let the colored bunnies in different directions. To make it simple. Takes the mirror and breaks into small pieces. Then you take an ordinary school globe and coated with glue. Then all the pieces of mirrors glued on the globe. It turns out – Deluxe prima.

If very cool – you can attach this mirror ball motor, then he will spin himself. But with a motor, too, is ambushed. Therefore, it can be simply hung on the ribbon, on a not very high altitude, and from time to time to spin slightly and release it and you will spin and let the bunnies.

Now it seems all can be done disco. And yet, I still want the cherry on the cake. We will have a cherry? Properly – flashing light, as the special equipment. Spinning during a school disco flashing light creates the feeling that you are dancing in a club in Manhattan.

Where can I get it? That’s really not even close to what it was in Soviet stores. A savvy on the Soviet skills? So, to get the flashing light for disco, you need to strip any special vehicle. Best course of police or the ambulance – they have blue flashing beacons. But it is very problematic and dangerous. What should I do? Bingo! What we dadena snowplows? In Soviet times, this technique is usually left unguarded on some spacious plain sight. However, who is there at night from the surrounding houses will be watching this technology? In General, remove flashing orange light with a snow machine – not difficult, the benefit of the beacon is mounted on some sort of metal Cup, which is locked up and the motor and all other parts of the mechanism. All right, to loosen a few bolts on the roof of the car, pry off the “glass” and wrest it to tear the wires. Well, then run with all his might in the darkness of the night. I once participated in such an operation. With me once was enough. But we became the owners of this flashing light for disco.

Well therefore usually packaged with a school disco in ordinary schools for ordinary Soviet youth. Some theorists have proposed to do more “smoke” by taking dry ice and pouring on it the water taste bitter during a slow dance. Can anyone actually did this, but I have not met.

In General, here it was a school disco in the late 70’s-early 80’s. Romance! Now it is not. Came into the store, bought all that is necessary or leased. Boredom can die. Not before, in those glorious days when the grass was greener.

On this today, I have everything.

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