GAY HISTORY | Remembering the first time at The Catacombs
A contributor to our Lost LGBT+ Scene project left this recollection of his first encounter at The Catacombs as an 18-year-old in the heydays of the early 70s.
Vivid memories of The Catacombs…..
At the tender age of 18, new to London, very green and exceedingly shy and discovering freedom!
Soon discovered Gay News (a now-defunct gay newspaper) and the gay scene at Earls Court. Must have been incredibly brave to go on my own.
Saturday nights. There were bouncers on the door, and the club used to provide square gold coloured metal keyring fobs with raised lettering CATA top-line COMBS bottom line to help ID.
There was a steepish narrow flight of steps down to the dance floor and a bar on the right I think. I THINK they did sell beer, but I only ever drank Coke, so might be mistaken.
The dance floor was always dark, illuminated with numerous flashing disco spotlights. I vividly remember the packed floor and the heads bouncing to Motown, Stevie Wonder-Superstition, Temptations-The Law of the Land, Timmy Thomas-Why cant we live together.
I hear those on the radio sometimes, shut my eyes and I’m back there in 1971/2 such was the huge impression. Around the dance floor which was circular or multi-sided such as Octagonal was a series of arches which led on to a corridor around the dancefloor.
There was a series of arches into open rooms around the outside of this corridor, each room with tables and seating around. There was always a row of stationary figures around the wall just watching the dancefloor and a similar row around the corridor, all awaiting the next pickup. I don’t remember where the toilets were, very shy and maybe didn’t use them, nor the disco, nor if there were any emergency exits and looking back.
I always think the place could have been an inferno if the worst happened, but oh! such happy memories.
Written by Paul
Have you got memories you’d like to share? Check out our list of now-closed LGBT+ venues and leave you recollections in the comments.
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