Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thats Entertainment

Reading last night of someone else's visit to a gig at Huddersfield University reminded me of the wierdest Student Union gig that I ever partook of - at Huddersfield Uni.

I saw Lindisfarne at Huddersfield Uni.
But they weren't wierd, I don't know why I mentioned that.

A friend of mine was studying architecture at Huddersfield and we visited regularly for nights of beer and cheap student union entertainment, or perhaps a night in The Windmill gay bar, more later.

On this particular weekend in 1978 he had promised a wonderful saturday night of wierd-ism, no music bands on that weekend but a weekend of magic.

It sounded crap but it was only £2 admission, so we went.

In the great hall the lights went down and the meagre audience made their way hynotically to the front of the room to the stage where we got an almost front row location.

Strange electronic music was faded in, of the sort that the BBC Radiophonic Workshops were famous for at the time, strobe lights flashed on stage, clouds of smoke erupted from somewhere and coloured lights whirled in a very 1960's "discoteque" stylee.

And on came the main act - a male and female naked contortionist act.

We all leaned further forward to confirm that indeed, through the smoke and whirling lights and strobes, they were indeed burr-nekkid, twisting themsleves around each other into impossible positions, bending right over backwards so that their genital regions were thrust right in your faces as their faces appeared from between their knees, we were stunned into silence, simply gawping at the apparitions in front of us was the only option.

You're probably reading this thinking that the sight of a butt-nekkid male/female contortionist act at a student gig might not be such a bad thing really and that you'd probably (probably have) pay a lot more than £2 to see that sort of act...

...until I add the caveat that this pair of contortionist were well into their eighties.

It could have been the smoke, it may have been the strobes, concievably it could have been the heavy aroma of cannibis that haunted most of the Huddersfield Uni gigs, but I started to feel slightly billious after a few minutes and I could see several of the audience already leaving with horror struck expressions, I made my excuses and left for the safety of the bar at the back of the room where I was joined by many other members of the audience all of whom had the same question on their lips - "did you just see what I just saw - its not the drugs then ?"

The geriatric contortionists finally took their leave and on the stage appeared, literally just appeared, a magician, I returned to the front of the room.

This magician had a small table upon which was placed a magicians top hat and behind which stood a lighting stand with several empty arms, magicians music started in the background and he pulled a single white dove fromt he top hat, "ooooh" we all exclaimed.

Encouraged, he dipped into the top hat and pulled out another dove, "we've seen it before" some wag shouted out.

Notwithstanding the first heckle he pulled yet another dove out of the hat, and another and another, the audience's attention span was staring to expire now and rustling of feet and shouted beer orders could be heard amongst us, but still the magician continued to find more doves in his top hat.

Ten minutes later and the lighting stand with several arms was now full of doves, forty or fifty doves in total all sitting there staring at us and occasionally fluttering their wings as yet another of their kin was plucked from the top hat, by now the magician had the audiences attention again as we all wondered where this act was going and who was going to clean up the stage afterwards.

Then the magician stopped pulling doves, with a puzzled face he looked down into the top hat, thurst his arm almost full length into it and with a struggle and flourish produced a brown chicken, upside down, held fluttering by its feet, he placed it on another more sturdier stand which we had failed to notice to the left of him.

We were seriously impressed by this.

Another chicken came forth, a white one this time, clucking and squaking it was, indignant at being disturbed from its slumber inside the unfeasibly large top hat.

We were silent in our admiration now.

Again his arm was thrust into the top hat, this time both arms went in up to his armpits, sweating and with a lot of tugging and pulling out came a full grown cockerel, of the Foghorn Leghorn variety, an evil looking bastard that glared at us from the stand.

We were frightened into silence by now.

And yet he still wasn't finished, with a mock wipe of his brow he clambered back into the top hat again, and I swear this bit is true, for nearly thirty years I have been telling this tale to unbelieving friends, but I swear its true - out of the top hat came a golden eagle which took pride of place on top of the sturdier of the two stands and on command from him raised its six foot wingspan in a threatening display to the fifty or so doves sat opposite him, the doves all shat themselves in unison and so did many of the audience as we were all feeling distinctly insecure in the presence of this huge bird of prey, some of the smaller students had moved to the safety of the bar to save themselves being carried away to the spire of a nearby bell tower.

Then with a puff of smoke and a blinding flash he was gone, gone with his aviary of birds, there was a long pause and then a huge cheer and long appluase, so relieved were we that he'd finished his act and buggered off with with the eagle.

But the hallucinogenic night wasn't over yet.

The flexible pensioners reappeared, burr-nekkid as before, accompanied this time by a huge Great Dane dog on a lead and amidst the swirling lights and fog they proceeded to both copulate with the excited hound, right there in front of our befuddled eyes.

It was all too much for me but I forced myself to stay and watch, there is a first and last time for everything in this life and you should never deny yourself the opportunity to witness events that would be illegal in many country's, indeed illegal anywhere else outside of the great hall at Huddersfield University.

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