THE DANCE YEARS:
October 27, 2013
I was 15 years of age when I first went to a nightclub as a paid customer. The club was called the Troubadour in Cardiff South Wales. The clubs gone now, along with the guy who did not check my I-D. I don’t even know how I got there, it was like the time my brother Tony and I snuck into a movie when we were about 12 years old. We got in through the back door, and sat down very pleased with ourselves. Then we both realised to our horror, we had snuck into a porn film. We were like two criminals aborting a heist, we ran down those steps missing three at a time then we were out through the exit doors. As I hit the daylight in the back alley, it felt like I had been taken from my senses for a moment. We ran until we were back in the flow of the shoppers on the high street. It’s funny what you miss when you’re off your game, looking back; we entered through the red velvet curtain, that same unassuming curtain I had passed so many times before. The cinema was not full, but dotted around were a certain type of man. We used to call them the raincoat brigade. Then as we looked at each other smiling, we turned to the screen were the groaning was coming from. Snap, a screen filled with a couple getting petty and I don’t mean having an argument with each other. When your young you follow your screaming alarm system fixed to your heart ‘RUN’. I remember those years vividly, everything felt new. They say when a baby chick pecks from the inside of the egg to get out; the mother then pecks from the outside to let the chick into this world. It is a delicate situation because if the mother miss timed her peck, the chick will be hurt, even killed by her beak. If the egg isn’t opened at the right moment the baby chick will suffocate. Our mother was always attentive to our knocking. She’s always been there. The Zen point is, we are just like the baby chick and know instinctively when to break out of what ever it is holding us down. We should break out of any rut, using our mind, elbow, foot or our soul.
I was a spectator at a dance heat, watching. I remember sitting at a table alone, which is strange for me because I’ve always been Mr. entourage. This was definitely one of the best eras for me,
Because it really felt like I was coming out of my shell. My consciousness was expanding up and around me. I remember I would take life seriously funny. I had always felt like I was in a football team waiting on the bench for that moment I would shine, I’m still on that bench, but I’ve had many moments in the spotlight since. The next bit is a little vague, but I went on to win my first dance competition, I only got up to buy a drink. Something’s in life are just meant to be. I was a natural, and had stumbled upon another natural hidden talent. It’s so good when you discover these gems, these gifts within yourself; this was a taste of expression I have only experienced through Dance.
The final was twelve weeks away so I prioritised my efforts to a crash course in preparing a winning routine. Not only because first prize was a thousand pounds, but also if I could achieve that much in the eliminator round without a clue what I was doing, there was a very good chance I could win the whole thing. My mother and father were very proud of me, and when you are born on the other side of the bridge, something like this is a life changer. This all smelt like a beautiful scented way out of normality. My family gave their instant backing, because in hindsight they all knew it was something good for the family. My father rolled up his sleeves and had me name and write down my entire arsenal of dance moves. He had me put them in groups of four; then as I danced he would call out the names until I memorized them all. By the time he had finished with me I understood the importance of variation. He helped me understand a unique thought Process that to him was a natural one, but not to most, he was streets ahead. My next steps excuse the pun, was to go visiting Cardiff nightspots, to literally study the competition. I would take a notebook and stand at the back of the relevant clubs doing matchstick drawings with names to the moves I liked. Then add them to my repertoire, more names in fours, more variations.
Each club in Cardiff had sponsored a dancer for press, I remember individuals representing Burroughs and nightspots. There was a great buzz around Wales, exactly what the club owners had intended. It was a time of optimism, a good time to be rubbing shoulders with, many people wanted out of working for the man, This felt like a piece of hope, when hope meant something. Now hope makes a great breakfast but a terrible dinner. Dance was something many of us could do, it was nothing like the spelling B, dance was for all the people who didn’t have an academic hope in hell, including myself. There were thousands of us, all on the bench.
STATISTICS – Players on the field:
NAME - Tindal
CLUB - Titos
ORIGIN – Jamaican? Not sure
Height – 5’8”
Appearance – Mixed with light hair:
Style – Monster dancer, very dynamic, made John Travolta look like he was nailed to the floor.
THREAT – Yes.
CLUB – Independent
Height – 5’8”
Appearance – Best Afro, reminded me of Jim Kelly in the Way of The Dragon.
Style – Funkster, smooth.
Threat – Everyone in the game is a potential winner.
Club – Brian Ferry
Origin – Not sure
Appearance – Cool school, Officer and a gentleman, when he danced with his sister Cheryl they were unbeatable in my book. Seeing them dance for the first time, was the first time I watched someone else and thought was amazing, I tell a lie, when I saw Grant Santino win the world disco dance championships was the first time. It’s funny, Cheryl ended up being my dance partner, and we won the British doubles dance championship together. And Grant ended up being one of my closest friends to this day.
CLUB - Lloyds Club (The coolest club in Cardiff, Black crowd, set in a basement, even the DJ could dance).
ORIGIN – African / Jamaican. Not sure where he came from, but he was slick.
HEIGHT - 6’ 2”
APEARENCE - looked like a black racehorse, pure muscle, walked like a dance champion, wearing an invisible crown.
STYLE - Jazz funk.
THREAT – I was David & he was Goliath.
Leon and I had great admiration for each other, many years later in London we admitted it to each another, I loved that brother. R.I.P.
There were many more dancers, but these were the ones I remember. Big shout out to Flee jay, I think you came later?
The next step was to go out with my father as he paid for my clothes and helped to pick them out. We shopped in Paradise garage in Cardiff. I chose a black satin suit, black satin shirt. A thin white mod tie, also a white belt that tied around the waste and over the shoulder. Ending the ensemble with black winkle picker pointed buckle shoes. I chose the record to Dance to. Not too obscure, but fresh. I chose Michael Jackson ‘PYT’. Again through my years with my father in cabaret, I learnt as Eddie Blower my brumy mate, always says, “preparation is key”. My dad was Berry Gordy, MJ’s father and Martin Luther King all rolled into one. He taught me presentation and hard work always pays dividends. I was putting in over 10 hours a day. The boxing totally prepared me for this. I was ready for the Welsh Dance Championship Final.
My dad used to say, “everything in life is fixed”. I found him to be right on most occasions. He was tipped off during the day by a friend of his that it was rigged for the girl to win, so my dad called up the owners of the club and told the organizers what he had heard and said if it was not going to be a fair decision he would go to the newspapers.
Let the games begin. This was my first taste of success outside the boxing, I won £1000, plus newspaper notoriety, and the title Welsh Dance Champion. My walk turned into a John Travolta strut with a tin of paint after that. As I hoped, my career in entertainment was financially official. This was my beginning and as that room spin around in slow motion, saying “place your bets, place your bets”, the ball landed on me. That was one of the most memorable, surreal moments in my life. I was unable to hear or see beyond the moment, an inner body experience. The crash back down to earth’s reality, the cheering and the noise, the light bulbs popping as my name was announced. Not surprised by the Justice of a fair choice, thanks to Frank my father, I couldn’t see him but I can imagine him leaning back in some corner smiling to himself as he lit up his cigarette, Clint Eastwood style. Only difference Clint was acting.