Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Skinheads And Nude Ballroom Dancing

I spent most of the afternoon continuing work on the Website Course manuals and forgetting all about HJ Issue 16. That first paragraph isn’t right, but it is always nearly there. It can wait for me now.

Met my old pal Rob Wardlaw for a couple of pints in the Station Bar in Edinburgh’s west end. It’s a local bar – not your usual big night out place, but as you always seem to find in these places you get a great pint.

We were on our way to see one of our favourite bands – Bad Manners. Purveyors of fine Ska since 1979, Buster Bloodvessel (vocals) is a favourite among Ska fans for his massive back catalogue and endless touring schedule. Unfortunately he has not been of good health of late. In the last year his already hefty weight got to breaking point at over 30 stone (over 400 pounds!) and he collapsed on stage in Rome. He finally had an operation and died on the operating table for about 4 minutes. He came through it though, and at the last gig I saw him at a few months ago in Glasgow, he still looked as awful as ever.

Then on Saturday night he appeared on stage at about 11pm. My jaw hit the deck just as much as it did when I first clapped eyes on him - he must weigh a quarter of what he did only a couple of months ago. He isn’t skinny by any means, but the sudden turnaround (under doctors orders) makes him look almost gaunt in comparison. He has had his stomach halved in size to make it tighter and smaller again, and his belly removed – literally scythed off and the loose skin stapled up.

I couldn’t believe it – there he was dancing and jumping around the stage, when only a matter of weeks ago he could hardly walk! Good on him – though I often wonder what goes through his mind?

It was a great night out though. I met a bloke who has e-mailed me before through my other website, The Magnificent 7, and it turns out he lives in Edinburgh too! There was a good crowd for the gig as well, I would estimate at over 1000, which is about five times the normal for a BM concert. This was down to the Corn Exchange being over run by Scootering fanatics for the day as one of the local Scooter clubs celebrated its 25th Anniversary. I’ve never seen so many skinheads in one single place in my whole life!

Skins get a bad press, but the reality is very different to the stereotype.

It’s all about 2-Tone, the infectious Ska beat that made you dance and lyrics that made you listen. The clothes – Doc Martin boots, rolled up jeans, Fred Perry’s, Harrington’s and Union Jack’s - gave the skins an identity, and told the truth about British society.

During the peak of the Ska movement, yes there was an element of violence associated with the live shows. These days though the 2-tone generation have grown up, and it’s more red faces and spreading bellies, than alligators with Stanley knives. Sure, times were harder back then with unemployment etc. and 2-Tone did break the barrier between different cultures, but at a price.

These days, it’s all about having a drink, having fun and getting away from the daily routine. Ska and the skins are never revived – it keeps on going. Some skins take this ethic too far though - like the bloke in teh middle of the mosh pit - totally naked - dancing away as if he was the only one in the room. It was hilarious, and some of the rudegirls needed to be led away in fits of laughter at the sight f his wee white willy bouncing up and down as he ballroom danced to the Can Can (the ska version)!

Nobody is special...

Colin 1:16 pm


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