The legendary Shiski Diski is back

A T-shirt from 1988 of the Shiski Diski designed by Malky McCormick.

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In the summer of 1967 there was a revolution in Shiskine Hall at an otherwise normal dance with a three piece band playing Scottish and modern dance music under the glaring fluorescent lights of the hall the regulars were dancing quick steps, foxtrots and Gay Gordons when two teenagers said that they wanted some music for the younger attendees.

To that purpose they had brought along a Dansette record player and some 45 inch singles. Sandy and Duncan were allowed to plug in their record player and the younger dancers danced with the main lights dimmed to the latest pop tunes. Amongst this group was Charles Currie, a 16 year old, who got involved with changing the records and choosing the next to be played.

Back in school in Glasgow Charles and his friend Douglas Maclean decided to try their hand at providing dance music for clubs on the mainland and founded Phoenix Disco, dragging in a friend who had speakers and an amplifier, Raymond Miller. They agreed that having one deck made the gaps between records too long and through a family friend, who was a lecturer in carpentry at Stowe college, they had their first set of twin decks made.

There was no queuing facility to start with and they had to put their ears down to the record to hear the songs starting. This progressed to a switch which put one deck on air and the other to queue through a small valve amplifier.

Now well prepared, the trio hired Shiskine Hall for the summer of 1968 and roped in another friend, Alastair MacBain, to join the crew. A sound to light machine was added quickly to provide flashing images and then the team made light wheels with slides, food colouring and ether to provide a colour light show.

At the end of that summer disaster hit when Raymond said that he was leaving and taking his speakers and amp with him. Could this be the end of Phoenix Disco and would the Shiski Diski be gone forever?

Charles and Douglas approached their respective fathers and borrowed £100 each and went into Glasgow and bought an amp and speakers and returned for 1969 to Shiskine. The disco was on a Wednesday night, originally, as there were dances at Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay on a rotating basis on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Shiski Diski grew in popularity and by the mid 70s was an established part of the Arran scene. Guest DJ’s like Steve Jones, Richard Park and Tiger Tim Stevens came down from Radio Clyde for special nights and the legend grew.

By then Charles was doing discos in other venues on the island and Douglas and Alastair were doing discos on the mainland.

Equipment had progressed and purpose made decks could be bought, the original deck case being relegated to cable carrier. Douglas and Alastair left and concentrated on mainland discos and Charles, with the help of wife, Irene, and many other helpers kept Shiski Diski as popular as ever, building up a record collection from scratch to provide the now standard Shiski Diski set.

In the 1980s Shiski Diski fans hired their own bus to take them over, roping in Ralston Green as driver and looker afterer of those who might get too involved in celebrating.

Shiski Diski was a regular event throughout the summer up until the early 90s and from then became an occasional treat in aid of Shiskine Hall, without whose trust a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old could not have started in 1968.

This month, on Saturday September 29 ,Shiski Diski will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that first season with a night of memories from 10pm to 1am.

Over the years Shiski Diski fans have had their own favourite tracks which will hopefully be revived on the night and some local businesses have given spot prizes, which will be drawn against ticket numbers, just like the early draws for records in the early days.

I should be quite a night.

An early momento from the Shiski Diski, then spelled Disci. NO_B38shiski01

A T-shirt designed by cartoonist Malky McCormick for the 20th anniversary of the Shiski Diski. NO_B38shiski02

Charles Currie from his days as a DJ photographed in 1983. NO_B38shiski03