It was the summer of 1989. My boyfriend (we’ll call him “Tom” to maintain anonymity) had just broken up with me because I wasn’t the same person he had met two years prior (to use his words). In the real world he was absolutely right, I wasn’t. I was growing as a 21 year old man should do when one is 21 years old.
I worked for the second largest computer company (at the time) in the world. I was a proud DECcie (the DEC was more properly called “Digital” within the company) and was a member of BGLAD (Bisexual Gays and Lesbians at Digital) and DEC-Plus (DEC People Like Us). At our monthly luncheons my brothers and sisters would often talk about a club that was basically in the middle of the woods near the New Hampshire border. You’d think living near Boston everyone would migrate to Beantown for their Friday and Saturday night fun, but no, some went to a club called “DiRocco’s” between Lowell, Mass. and Nashua, N.H.
As a farm boy from Upstate New York I was hesitant to go out in Boston by myself. The anonymous one, Tom (just a pseudonym, I assure you) wouldn’t dream of going to any bar, let alone a club in Boston, lest anyone actually look at me.* But I knew I could handle DiRocco’s alone. It sounded like a wicked good time and the DJ got rave reviews from those that went there. And besides, the chances were very good that I would run into someone I knew.
The reason I wanted to go out was because I was mostly interested in the music. Having grown up via high school dances with “Working For The Weekend” and that dreck by Benny Mardones played over and over, I longed for some “real” club music in a club setting.
The time was right. It was the middle of August and it was hot. I had no plans and Anonymous Tom was off with his new boyfriend (so soon! Shocking!) So I gathered up my nerve and drove the 30 minutes to DiRocco’s. My fellow DECcies were right, it was in the middle of nowhere. My stomach was flip flopping. I hadn’t been in a bar in over two years and I had never been to one near a big city. As I parked the car I could hear the thump of the bass in the parking lot. The butterflies in my stomach increased in their churning intensity but I was also flushed with a rush of excitement.
It walked in and felt like I hit a wall of energy. The dance floor was packed with shirtless men and women. They were bumping and grinding at a frenetic pace. The music was loud! I could just feel the excitement of the crowd, almost as if they were consumed by a wild, sexually charged, power as they mingled and mangled and hooked up and broke up. All to the beat of the music from two turntables and a kiss-ass sound system.
I’ll never forget that first moment I walked into DiRocco’s. It was like the DJ controlled the party. If the music is too slow, they get bored and leave. If the music is too fast, they get tired too quickly and go home. You have to build it up slowly, beginning with a tease of what’s to come, then engage in foreplay before building it all up to a climax where everyone is sweaty and doing all they can do and more on the dance floor before you ramp it back a bit so everyone can come back to reality before heading home after last call.
When I made that first step into DiRocco’s, this was the song playing: “Touch Me” by the 49ers.** It’s derived of two different samples, “Touch Me” by Alicia Warren and “Rock-A-Lott” by Aretha Franklin. As the case with most Italian House songs, the person singing in the video is just a model lipsynching. At least this one is honest about it and doesn’t claim to be singing.
* That boyfriend would get so wildly jealous that I might exchange glances with another man that he forbad me from wearing mirrored sunglasses. I have no regrets, only learning experiences and that relationship taught me A LOT.
** I used to think the lyric was “Peter Pan was a man” but it’s “People can’t understand it”