Disco Night South London 1977

Annie Wright

after Gwendolyn Brooks

My first summer teaching, the Head of Year says we
got permission to have a disco for our forms, the real
deal – kids to supply the music, their own cool

tunes, and the DJs. Two boys set up lights so we
nip off to the loos and change, teacher gear left
in the lockers. The Deputy Head’s left school

rules for policing discos. We read them quick but we
toss them aside. Usual guff. No-one’s allowed to lurk
around outside, no booze or drugs and no latecomers

admitted. The kids burst in on time; we
check names, stamp hands. Girls at fourteen strike
us as looking way older than boys; outfits straight

off The Cut or Brixton market, makeup and style we
women admire with envy. The first discs all sing,
we jammin’, we jammin’… smile with the risin’

sun. Playlists are feverish, dancing steamy, then we
see space clear for a boy in vest and braces, thin
and tough. The Head stumbles in, the worse for gin,

as the boy smashes a breakdance routine. We
all cheer, more lads join in; it’s hot as jazz
in Ronnie Scott’s. We’re rockin’ on a burning June

night, smoochin’ to Bee Gees – at Rasta Train, we
see couples rubbin’ up against the walls. I’d die
to groove this good. Lights up – way, way too soon.