Rafters vs Berlin

Rafters was a basement club in St James’ Buildings, Oxford Road (later called The Music Box.) The Rafters jazz-funk nights, DJ’d by Colin Curtis and John Grant from 1978-82, were all about jazz-dance virtuosity and fast-and-frantic music.

Mid-80s Berlin Tuesday nights were less highly strung. Based in another basement dive off Deansgate, Colin Curtis and Hewan Clarke offered a music-policy compromise: retro jazz-dance and latin music for the hardcore jazz-dance survivors, followed by slow-groove soul.

Disappointingly, the music at Band On The Wall last Saturday didn’t really include the retro jazz-dance music played at Berlin; instead they played funky 1980s soul with just a few short bursts of Rafters-style frenetic jazz-funk.

This is Danny Henry and a couple of guys dancing to the jazz-funk:

Hewan Clarke played some jazz-funk and jazz-dance early on.

Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions (1975)

Hank Crawford – Sugar Free

Then Mike Shaft played soul/funk classics of the 1970s and ’80s; songs like Luther Vandross’s ‘Never Too Late’, Roy Ayers’ ‘Running Away’, Postive Force’s ‘We Got The Funk’ and Rose Royce’s ‘Magic Touch':

Rose Royce – Magic Touch (1984)

Colin Curtis didn’t come on until the very end. With his beard and grey hair, tied back in a pony-tail, he looked like a ‘soul viking’! His set was generally more mainstream than I would have expected… or perhaps I’m just more familiar with soul music than I was in the mid-80s. I may have heard these at The Berlin but failed to apprecate them because they were slow-tempo:

Gwen McCrae – Funky Sensation (1981)

Midnight Star – Curious (1984)

I was really surprised when Colin Curtis played Sister Sledge; it was a really good funky modern remix:

Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You (Dimitri From Paris Remix 2010)

Then, right at the end, he played Isley Brothers’ ‘Harvest For The World’… and it took me right back! I had completely forgotten that this was played every week at Berlin – and this was before The Christians covered it (and ruined it for everyone.)

Isley Brothers – Harvest For The World (1976)

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2 Comments

  1. wayne edghill

    hi gereldine,is it possible that you could send me some more pictures of the jazz dancing,i was guy dancing with danny,im wearing the tracksuit top.my girlfriend took pictures of the night but her camera sadly broke and we didnt manage to get more of the nite that we wanted at the rafters/berlin renuion at BOTW.thanks wayne.

    • hi wayne, no problem – i tried the email address you gave me but i was putting a dot before the numbers so it didn’t work. will send them asap. best wishes, urs.

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