Interesting obituary in The Guardian this week for Norbert Rondel (1927-2009), another of those dodgy figures straddling crime and nightlife in 1960s/70s London. A Jewish refugee from Berlin, he was, among other things a professional wrestler, South London used car salesman, landlord's heavy for Peter Rachman, prisoner, chess player, (alleged) conspirator in the famous 1975 Spaghetti House robbery and doorman at La Discotheque in Wardour Street.
Of the latter place - a 1960s mod hang out - Jon Waters has given an account at Modculture:
"I made my way up the stairs to 'La Discotheque' and gave the nod to the bouncer whilst dropping some cash into his hand. We had sussed out some time ago that we could gain entrance for half price and made full use of the facility. The obligatory stamp went on the back of my hand and I was in.
The door opened releasing a hot fug of fetid air mixed with cigarette smoke. The place was heaving as sweating bodies jostled for space to dance. Junior Walker's 'Shake & Fingerpop' was pumping out and I could feel my heart jump into overdrive. Locating the rest of the firm was easy. 'Haggis' and 'Big Roy' were giving it some on the floor. It looked like Haggis had pulled for the night. Roy was in a world of his own on the dancefloor, dancing by himself, if that were possible in view of the close proximity of the bodies all around him. Roy was unbelievable. He would dance all night with hardly a break but never take any gear. The energy he possessed was beyond belief.
Terry was busy doing some business somewhere and Mac was sitting in a corner. He was completely stoned, staring at his clenched fists on his lap and chewing like crazy.I couldn't get any sense out of him. By now the combination of the music and the dexys were really kicking in so I fought my way out to the others on the floor and let the music wash over me. James Brown 'Night Train', Betty Everett 'Getting Mighty Crowded', The Impressions 'You Been Cheating', Otis 'Mr.Pitiful' and Pickett's 'Midnight Hour'...pure heaven!
Terry reappeared after a while. He had taken a few too many and his mouth had gone into overdrive. He talked a lot of bollocks when he wasn't high but Christ! He was really giving my earhole some grief! I spotted a girl I knew from Borehamwood and using her as an excuse I escaped. We danced and for a while and she let slip details of a party tomorrow night. A result! Sundays were dead and we were not first choice on most people's party lists (probably due to the amount of suede and leather coats that tended to go missing when we were in attendence).
More 'dexys' were consumed. Every now and again a few more envelopes were distributed which meant occasional trips to the building site. Still the music pumped out. The Supremes 'Back in my Arms Again', Jnr.Walker 'Shotgun', Eddie Floyd 'Things Get Better', Toys 'Lovers Concerto', James Brown 'Papas Got a Brand New Bag', Marvin Gaye 'I'll be Doggone'. Gradually the night wore on'.
La Discotheque is often credited as being the first London disco, in the sense of 'being the first club to only play recorded music in London'Mod: Clean Living Under Very Difficult Circumstances - A Very British Phenomenon by Terry Rawlings and Richard Barnes).