Summer of Love


RIP Donna. People who know me well are usually surprised when I tell them I used to go disco dancing. It didn’t happen a lot but in the summer of 1977 I was 15 and used to get taken out by my mother and her new husband to a cabaret spot called the Planet Room in part of Blackpool’s sprawling Winter Gardens complex. Ordinarily I might have needed some persuading but I loved the Winter Gardens and especially liked the Planet Room, a large open space that was originally the very Victorian Indian Lounge. In 1964 someone had decided that the place needed a Space Age facelift so they covered the elaborate ceiling with an illuminated starry sky, painted the walls with a lunar landscape and dimmed the purple lights. Voila! Planet Room. It’s taken me all this time to realise what a suitable location it was to first hear the flanged chords of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love come surging from the dancefloor speakers, the song that famously represented “the future” on her I Remember Yesterday album. Nothing else from those dance nights was remotely memorable although for various reasons (lack of money, shitty home life) I didn’t actually buy a copy of I Feel Love until the Patrick Cowley Mega-Mix appeared in 1982. It’s impossible to talk about this song in any detail, it bypasses the rational brain and still thrills like few others. Prior to this there was the incredible (and banned) epic of Love To Love You Baby, and after it her version of State of Independence, a song that Brian Eno called “one of the high points of 20th century art“. Those songs and many others show the range of her voice to far better effect, but for me I Feel Love will always be something very special. (And let’s not forget Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte either.)

How Donna Summer’s I Feel Love changed pop: Jon Savage and producer Ewan Pearson on the majesty of Donna Summer’s finest 3 minutes & 47 seconds.

7 thoughts on “Summer of Love”

  1. Well said John, this record has a lot of emotional resonance for a lot of people.

    The Cowley megamix is the version and although your disco dancing days are no more, I can assure you that this track still works dancefloors.

    From basements to bar mitzvahs…..i feel love.

  2. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot od DS back in the 70’s, via ‘disco’. But I’m writing because I’ve noticed you said you were leading a shitty life back in 1977. I was 22, turning 23, back then, getting ready to move to a big city, where I’ve spent the next decade. Back then I had dreams, of my first marriage, of a better life, etc. Well, not everything was shitty, I became a translator, later I became a journalist and I learned how to draw and paint, so I’m a well known artist, at least in my home town. But, apart from that, the majority was quite shitty… today, after four marriages, I think I’m settled, but still doing things (painting, writing, making zines, etc.). Sorry for the flashback, but flasbackes have to do with Donna Summer, too… And we, down here, tend to think that people in the First World never lead shitty lifes but, after travelling abroad and getting to know Switzerland, France and Spain (unfortunatelly, I’ve never went to England), it’s easy to see that the things that affect human beings are, indeed, universal. By the way, I love Bauhaus and I liked very much your touching of the style in Reverbstorm. Too bad it’s very hard to find in Brazil…
    All the best, pal!

  3. Thank you John, as mentioned above and she so eloquently stated, Donna Summer was the soundtrack for many . Bringing optimism to what seems to have been for many , a bleak period personally. I won’t bore with details, but yes, Donna summer brought a glimmer of hope to my own youth.
    As always i love the backup history you present-the Victorian Indian Lounge tarted up in galactic drag sounds fantastic.
    I may very well be the only gay fellow around unfamiliar the above mentioned Mega Mix, it is quite fantastic and will be laying for some hours to come. again, thanks,

  4. Ha, that’s okay, Leonard.

    The Winter Gardens would have been quite a place when first built, the Victorian equivalent of a Las Vegas pleasure zone. By the time I got to know it much of the building was hardly used or had been put to poor use (a huge hall turned into a games arcade) but it was still a fascinating place. My sisters took dance classes for a while and used to perform in a pantomime there every year. When I got bored watching them on stage I was able to wander all over the place. I was hoping to find a photo of the Planet Room to see how it matched my memories but no one seems to have put one online to date. The decor changed in the 1980s, now it apparently has a Roman theme.

  5. Well that makes perfect sense High Victorian, to futuristic Intergalacticism (spell?) to Roman pastiche, thats just great fun. Would love to see the incarnation you remember.
    Take care,

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