Journalist, Nikki Spencer, explains why she started a south London club night in her 40s
One day it struck me that everyone was out having fun except for me. Twenty and thirty-somethings had the pick of the capital’s clubs, under-18s had events like Underage and even little ones and their parents got to groove the day away at Baby Loves Disco – but where could I go to strut my funky stuff without feeling like I was gatecrashing one of my teenager daughters’ parties?
Bar the occasional wedding or significant birthday party I drew a blank.
There used to be legendary club called the Red Eye in Lewisham, but sadly they closed it down just when I moved here. I did try to go out clubbing in central London but we didn’t even make it through the door. The long queue and the possible humiliation from being turned away for being too old was too much to bear.
So in the absence of anywhere to dance, at 48, I decided to start my own club night: a 70s and 80s soul, funk and disco night – for people who remember the tunes first time round and still want to party. I didn’t put an age on it – we knew who were!
I called it Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet! after the 1977 Gonzales hit. It’s the music I grew up with, but I also chose it because it’s simply the best music to dance to. I defy anyone to listen to tracks like Good Times by Chic and not be moved – literally.
At first I wasn’t sure if it was just me, and a few friends, that still wanted to hit the dancefloor beyond the more traditional clubbing age but now I know that we’re not alone. The response has been phenomenal. As I live in Hither Green, I was really keen that the club should be based south of the river. And now we have run over a dozen events and locals love that it’s on their doorstep, and that we are putting Hither Green on the map, others have also been trekking from all across London and beyond. A recent feature on Radio 4’s Saturday Live has only added to our popularity. And after we’d been on air, people said they’d been listening desperately to hear where it was – and were dancing around their kitchens when they heard it wasn’t central or north London.
I’ve found the most brilliant DJs who are up for a party and we have a wonderful choreographer who leads a couple of routines at the beginning to get us all into the groove. It’s non-stop from the moment we open the doors and everyone has a smile on their face. It doesn’t surprise me that yet another scientific study a few weeks ago confirmed that dancing is one of the best things we can do. Not only is it brilliant exercise and makes us feel good but it can even stave off dementia, so it’s win win.
Finding a venue with a big enough dancefloor wasn’t easy but then I hit on the idea of going back to our roots – it’s where many of us partied way back – and using a church hall. I thought the only- til-11 o’clock licence might be a problem but it’s turned out to be a selling point. People love it because they can come and have a bloody good boogie and be home tucked up in bed by midnight – though there are a few after parties for the more hardcore too.
Words and photographs: Nikki Spencer who, as well as running Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet, is a media tutor and a freelance journalist for the Guardian and Independent.