Thursday, June 02, 2005

My Dad Was a Teen Club Promoter

I can never really think about my dad being young. Everytime I try to picture his pre-me life, I get some cross between Rebel Without a Cause and Back to the Future with my dad as his 60 year old self.

It turns out that my dad and his buddies ran a popular teen nightclub while they were in highschool. It was called "McKee's Beat" after Bob McKee, the discjockey who went in on the project with them.

The impetus for the club came from the fact that all of the highschools in Atlanta had their own events, but there was no central place for kids from different schools to hang out. My dad and his friends rented an old warehouse in downtown Atlanta and converted it into a club. They soundproofed the joint and built a stage so that the DJs could spin above the crowd.

Since McKee was one of the most popular DJs on the most popular radio station in town, the place was packed every weekend. My dad said that they had Fats Domino, Otis Redding and Chubby Checker all performing there before they hit the big leagues. They almost got Elvis, but the promoters wanted $10,000 bucks upfront to secure the show.

They "borrowed" phone lines from nearby buildings, and installed phones in the warehouse, including one in the upstairs girls bathroom. As forshadowing for my dad's future career as an engineer, they hooked a recording device up to the girls room phone. Whenever someone made a call, a light in the control booth would light up. They would then record the conversation. I asked my dad what was the most interesting thing he heard in all of those conversations. "I never knew that girls talked so dirty," he said. "They would say the nastiest things about other girls and boys."

There you have it folks, the fifties were wild times. Decades before the warehouse rave scene my dad was tapping phonelines and spinning records.


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