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My name is Michael Ginda, I live in Carlton-in-Lindrick, a village just outside Worksop in Nottinghamshire. While still at comprehensive school I got a passion for electronics, and during my last 2-3 years there, this focused on amplification for sound. Lighting effects also became an interest when I got involved in the disco scene. I was apprenticed into the TV trade and over the years have done alsorts of interesting things, mainly electronics based. Disco was a serious 'hobby' and later became a full time job. some memories of my disco past are here for your amusement.

My Disco Youth.Ramblings of an old guy.

Well I was born in Rotherham Yorkshire in 1952 and lived most of my youth in Dinnington, a small village near Rotherham and Sheffield (Yorkshire).  I attended the Comprehensive school there. It was while there i got into pop music and started a record collection, buying one 45 a week courtesy of my uncle, from the local TV shop.
Lots of us were avid listeners of the 'new' wave of music and tuned into pirate radio 'Caroline' when it went on air. http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk/history3.asp During my last years at the comprehensive, myself and my best mate Allan James came up with the idea of playing music to the masses. Mobile disco was in its infancy but we had heard of some people doing this so we started bolting together some gear, deciding to go under the name 'Aquarius Mobile Discotheque'.
It would appear that others had the same thoughts and as we kicked off we found a few other mobile disco's had already burst onto the scene. Notably one in our area was Tony Underwood and his 'Kaleidoscope' disco. Some of these guys went into this with cash and of course cash=gear. We were on a shoe string budget subsidised by our wages of 21 shillings (we both now had a job as an apprentice tv repair engineer). Obviously this kind of cash bought very little.
We both fabricated our own gear from what was affordable. Using second hand turntables ripped from old radiograms, a mono amp and mixer i built based on designs in Practical Wireless magazine, we hit the scene putting out 12watts of audio and some coloured bulbs for lighting effect.
This was fine for the small pubs where we pleaded to get the use of a room, offering our service for free just to get known. But we needed more sound power and something more in lighting other than a few coloured bulbs to screw in.
By now another school mate Keith Gater had joined us and he made a good job spray painting some of the gear. Allan had just passed his test and sported a Ford Anglia car we could hump our gear round in. Prior to this we relied on Allan's parent Arthur for lifts to and from gigs. The sound got better as we threw the Colum speakers (filled with ex-radiogram drivers) and got some Goodman’s 12" 30watt drivers.
Keith put the box together and made a grand job of spray painting the outside in Austin yellow (more of a mustard yellow).We had now got some lighting. Three 100w reflector spots hooked up to a sound to light box i built (very primitive). This thing used thyristors driven from the speaker output and radiated so bad you could pick it up on anam radio.
On a trip to a local radio junk shop (Bardwells of Sheffield) we came across this 'thing' that had a motor driving a shaft with cams tripping microswitches.This was seized on and went in box with lots of bulbs wired up to the switches, and a foot switch to run the motor. This played havoc with the amps when operated so we just used it on 'loud' bits of music.
We had done a bit of messing about with water, inks, rubber tube and a bulb (could not afford the overhead projector) early on, but this meant one of us getting really messed up and this didn't last long, though the stained fingers did! On one of our 'spy trips' (we would travel all over to look at other DJ's and see what they had) we went to a gig Kaleidoscope was doing. He had this thing projecting moving liquid onto the walls. WOW was not even in it! One of us distracted him while the other got a better look at this bit of magic.
An oil wheel bolted onto a Rank Aldis Tutor. We set about getting an oil wheel and grabbed a cheap second hand projector (having chucked our old single slide projector used for the inks/solvelts slides) and attacked it with a saw, files and bits of Mechano. Now we had some fancy lighting sporting a mains voltage 100w lamp! This did require the room lights to be off and many publicans needed a lot of persuasion to do this. I later modified this to use a QI 12v 150w lamp for more brightness. This gave unattended liquid lighting projection.
Well that was the beginning. What happened next? Well we got more gigs, more lighting and more fame. Still trying to save money, a lot of the kit was handmade. AS oil wheels were very fragile in our hands and at the time relatively expensive (£5 pounds or so) we decided to have a go and make our own. We teamed up with some guys in Sheffield. They ran the Joybringer disco and had much better sound gear, but the decks were enormous. They needed cheap lighting effects too.
Getting the glass was a nightmare. Remember back then you just had what you could get at the local harware shops, no internet just yellow pages. The oils were an absolute mystery and we tried anything and everything that high street shops could offer. This got very messy. Finally we settled on a mix that did work, not quite as good as the originals but good enough. I found Pilkington glass would supply the thin glass needed and cut to size.  Sterling Instruments sold us the motors we needed, and we made loads of different effects to bolt onto all kinds of projectors.
I later carried on with the effects, always looking for something new and had a real stack of one-off effects. Sadly they did not last and are now lost forever, but some of the original coloured glass plates, oil wheel and funky slides have stayed in one piece.
Keith left us due to work commitments and myself and Allan split as other interests took over. I then went solo forming 'Caroline Stereo Disco' named after the pirate station I loved. The sound was more professional and the lighting too. By now I had a glut of equipment and was both resident and mobile.
I had done a bit of work for the Rank organisation (club dj) and this gave my presentation skills a major kick. Still doing 'spy trips' I was picking up on all the trends, music lights and gear. There were loads of companies jumping on the back of the disco movement now and guys in sheds were making up amps, mixers and all kinds of lighting to feed the hungry market.
During this period the TV trade took a dive, and I decided to put my electronics skill to use and opened an electronics shop in Worksop. I did repairs to pro sound and disco kit, as well as manufacturing custom made electronics and lighting for groups, disco and local organisations. After a few years of this the marketplace changed, mainly due to relaxation of hire purchase laws,  and without enough capital to make the switch I got out, returning to the TV trade.
There was a bad period when lots of kids saw an opportunity to make some cash, so along came the 'cowboys'. They undercut to get bookings and bought their kit on HP. The market went a bit dull but then picked up yet again a while later.
Disco was back, there was enough room for the cowboys to get tired and disappear, and the rest of us got all the booking we could handle. TV shows and dancing competitions, magazines and the like got thrust into the public domain. Everyone went to disco's now and the night scene cheered up a great deal.
I soldiered on until about 1990 when I decided I was missing out on my family life and chucked it in. I kept some of the lighting thinking it would be good to show the kids in years to come, the sound system went all apart from one set of decks and a pair of cabs. I still have these to this day. These have seen a bit of use now and again for special friends.
I look at the cabs, the decks, the lighting and remember how it used to be, and feel sad that the experience I had can never be felt in the same way by the youth of today. It seems so clinical nowadays, and jocks rarely speak!
Some of the lighting we used, especially projected is little known by modern disco's who like their laser and rotating bulbs,  we had those back in the early seventies (although it was more primitive). When I occasionally show off some of my old effects, these modern day disco guys are amazed and stunned when I say this is what we used way back then, they think it's new stuff! Will I sell it they ask? Well NO, I love my old kit and will enjoy it like old folk enjoy old pictures because it holds so many memories and it’s just FAB.

All modern jocks and bands owe a great deal to the pioneers of lighting and sound from the sixties, these guys did give us very much of what we have today. I did my bit by using the ideas and kit at the cutting edge, to bring an entertaining and memorable night to those who booked me.

It seems we have lost the concept of knocking something up. Today’s disco and now karaoke outfits just buy what large companies are selling. Experimentation has been replaced by marketing guys. In the early years the stuff of experiments is what created much of what is marketed today. Sure, lighting rigs are more complex, but this is because the electronics needed is now so much cheaper and readily available..

The years passed and it got to 2013 and I decided to get back into disco. So learned all the modern stuff and got the kit together, the old lighting shines again! Disco rocks once more and still does with original kit and modern digital or a mix of both.
Mick Ginda

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