Where The Happy People Go?

"So Tony and Dave, they went there last year and when they came out to go back to their car, six guys or so attacked Dave and knocked him unconscious. Tony went over to help him--he's a wrestler and he's pretty strong. Tony tried to pull them off, and his whole head was split open--got about 12 or 18 stitches.

Disco--you remember disco, Don't you? Disco was never like this. Nosirree. Disco was cracked up to be the greatest social invention since the double feature--you know, the great melting pot, where black people and white people, gay people and straight people, all got together and just had a good time, any night, all week long.

You know--a whole new brand of music was invented just for the occasion--"disco," it was called, to coincide, we guess, with the name of the pleasure domes in which it was played for common enjoyment. The music had a heavy, thumping beat, lots of strings and flourishes, and it made you shake your booty, so to speak. In the great melting pot that was disco, we all shook our booties together, and we all had fun.

So anyway, the three of us decided to check out the Boston disco scene, to do sorta a "state of the art" type piece, see how the booties were shakin', etc., etc.

We struck out--on the Red Line--for a place called The Mad Hatter. Got off at South Station; got lost. Walked around through back alleys and along wharves--believe me-- wharves. Finally got to this big, flat place, nestled inside a big, flat parking lot.


Nice place, we thought. Big, kind of pretty, loud music, light-up dance floor (blinkety-blink, strobety-strobe), ten-cent beers, 25-cent drinks (OK, only on Wednesdays), and clean-looking people. Disco music--lotsa bass (thump-thump).

But wait a second, we thought. These folks are all white. What about that melting-pot business?

"I danced with a black girl in here once," says one teen from Southie. "No, on second thought, I saw one in here once."

"Not for long," his friend chimes in.

Ten-cent beers and Southie camaraderie are the hallmarks of this non-disco disco. The management says that since the recent institution of a dress code ("no jeans, no T-shirts, no work clothes, no sneakers, no work boots, no...."), Mad Hatter crowds have been a great deal more manageable than in the past. "If a guy's wearing a 25-dollar shirt, he's not gonna wanna get it all messed up in a fight," explains a friendly bouncer.

And why no black people? "Uh--well we sorta tactfully let 'em know it ain't safe for them here. Otherwise, they get jobbed by some of the fascist gonzos like Mike here, don't they, Mike?"

Mike nods.

Hey, you know, they say disco is dead, and if this is disco, then maybe they're right, or it wouldn't be such a bad thing anyway. They start playing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons here after a while, and these people, who wouldn't know a hustle if it BUMPED into them on the street, invariably revert to the Frug anyway.

We were sidetracked that night. We never made it to all those other places that probably have their heads screwed on so much better. But this place was just too amazing. And there were those wharves to contend with, just to get back to South Station. I mean, we mighta got jobbed. Boogie boogie boogie boogie.

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