The Online Mod/ern/ist Archive

archive of original modernist recollections and information .
we are glad to hear from anyone with memories of the time, but we do not rewrite history .

2 Sep 2007

LONDON : THE SCENE CLUB and THE GOLDHAWK (source Blue Dot, friends of the Scotch of St James, thanx to Dave Edwards and Scene 64)


The Scene Club in Ham Yard, Soho was thought of by many as Mod Central. It wasn't a hugely popularised place filled to bursting with people, but more of an underground club where only the top mods hung out, and the whole mod style was created. The club's decor didn't match the smart cut of their clothes, being a bizarre dingy basement catacomb where the walls were padded and the floor was littered with cushions, but it was ideal for the pilled lifestyle they led, where you were buzzing into the early hours of the morning and needed a club that stayed open as late as 5am on a Sunday. The Goldhawk may have been a club for drinkers, but the Scene was deffinately designed for pills.

"The Scene was really where it was at, but there were only about fifteen people down there every night. It was a focal point for the mod movement. I don't think anyone who was a mod outside Soho realised the fashions and dances all began there." Pete Townshend


It's been said that the outside of The Goldhawk Road social club in Shepherds Bush resembled a women's institute private residence with five steps leading up to a big oak door and billboards each side of a little patch of grass at the front advertising upcoming bands like The Birds and The Who. Inside the place was quite unlike the women's institute though, a pretty rough venue where brawls happened almost nightly and the music was playing so loud that it was impossible to get the bouncer to hear you knocking on the door if you arrived a bit late... unless you happened to be Roger Daltrey who once threw a fit at being locked out on a night he was playing there and bashed the door open with his fist.

Membership was five shillings which you gave to admissions officer Kenny Spratling in return for a blue card which carried your name and membership number on the top and a long list of the rules and regulations on the inside. The card admitted you to the bar which mainly served out halves and bitters in a mod world where pills were the real scene. It was easier to go down the stairs to the small soft drinks bar which held only four or five tables.

To get to the dancefloor surronded by big sofas you had to pass through a door frame hung with Chinese plastic drapes that seperated it from the soft drinks bar. The usual ettiquette was to slip your hand between the drapes and slide onto the floor, but Mods with aspirations of being one of the Faces jammed their hands firmly in their pockets, fixed a scowl on their faces and stormed through with a mass of multicoloured drapes streaming from their shoulders. The music there, besides live bands, consisted of the likes of John Lee Hooker, and all present on the dance floor were expected to know the right dance steps that went with certain top records.

The Goldhawk was one of the best places for live bands on Friday and Saturday nights, supporting London's premiere bands, but unlike the clubs up west it slung everyone out at 11pm. That just meant that at 11 you headed for the other clubs right out round Wardour Street. But it was worth going to a club that closed so early if you got to see bands such as Screaming Lord Such and the Savages, The Undertakers, The Who, The Herd, The Birds, and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.

On Friday nights the club was mainly filled with lads because most of the girls who frequented The Goldhawk worked on Saturdays. But Friday night was usually Who night and during the gaps between their sets lead guitarist Pete Townshend would usually be found heading straight for the dancefloor trying out the new steps as they were given birth by the local Mods and having them perfected by the time he was back on stage.

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