Your Troc Memories

Beaner's Troc

My name is Brian, a.k.a Beaner. I was a bartender at the Trocadero Transfer for two years from spring of '80 thru spring of '82. Here are my personal memories of the Trocadero Transfer.

Let's Start The Dance

I have to start at the beginning because the way it happened is in itself testimony to the captivating quality of Trocadero. I had two very good friends, Bobbie and Ron who had been going to Trocadero, and knowing my passion for music and dancing, insisted that I must experience this place.

Bobbie, a petite short haired black woman was a full time "Troclodyte" who many will know by description if not by name. Bobbie didn't speak much but had one of the most expressive faces I've ever known, her eyes could speak volumes and she had a wicked grin that went from ear to ear. This might trigger a few memories: At one of the big parties Bobbie came dressed as a French Maid and mingled around all night, affecting a coquettish demeanor, dusting the crotches of her favorite men with a feather duster! She could be very amusing.

Down To Love Town

It was November of '79 and for my birthday the three of us were out to make a night of it and that we did! For this special occasion, I brought ten g's of mushrooms and Bobbie tucked them away in her purse. Now, you might think ten g's is a lot for three people and you'd be right. Anyone who knows me will testify to my propensity for preparedness and I wasn't about to let unexpected fingers find there way into Bobbie's purse and put a crimp in my birthday!

First stop was a smaller venue in the Polk Street area, called The Music Hall. The dance floor was on the basement level but you could watch from upstairs. We stood watching the dancers, having a few drinks (at this time there was no alcohol at Trocadero), talking and all the while nibbling the mushrooms out of Bobbie's purse. At some point it was decided that it was time for the main event and off we went.

The Visitors

We arrived at the club, Bobbie was already acquainted with Jimbo who was the doorman and security chief, a brief introduction and in we walked. We went directly upstairs, got something to drink and planted ourselves on the railing of the balcony overlooking the dance floor. At that time, the dance floor was at least a third larger than it is now and except for offices, bars and storage/supply rooms, the club was all one open room, upstairs and downstairs and it seemed enormous. The place was already very crowded and there was a festive energy in the air. After a while, Bobbie and Ron wanted to go down to the dance floor but I wasn't quite ready and said I'd stay upstairs for a while and would see them downstairs later.

The Greatest Show On Earth

Billy Langenheim was the light man at the time. His background was in theatre and it really showed. In conjunction with his lighting board in the booth, there were three arc lamps all manned by operators with headsets so that he was in direct communication and could conduct the lighting as his own symphony in concert with the one that DJ Bobby Viteritti was creating, it was very dramatic. It was fascinating to watch, Billy was of the "Less is More" school so when he punched things up it was dazzling! DJ Bobby Viteritti is a legend and anything I could say about the man's creativity and talent has already been said so I need not expound on that element other than to say that on my first exposure to him and thereafter, I was duly impressed.

I stood there for I don't know how long, fascinated by the energy, the crowd, the lighting, the music and the space itself. The crowd was incredibly diverse, men and women, clones and fashion victims, dykes and lipstick lesbians. Though primarily gay, there were gay friendly straights also, and though it was not a major theme party night, people here and there were in various states of costume. I would find out that this was the norm. Some people would regularly come to the club in some sort of costume, it was just their fantasy, part of their enjoyment of the night and their contribution to the essence and energy of the Trocadero.

Tripping On The Moon

While standing upstairs, taking all of this in, the altered states of some of the people was very apparent and at one point, a man whom I would find out later was known as Weird William, was coming towards me from the opposite end of the balcony looking right at me. It seemed that he really wasn't seeing me but looking straight through me at God knows what and it kind of freaked me out. I had never experienced this number of people being high in one place!

At some point Bobbie came back and asked what I thought. I looked at her and told her it was really fascinating and that I had never seen anything like it but that I really didn't think it was for me. She didn't say anything for a minute, just looked at me in a curious way, and with a small smile said "OK........I'm going back to dance some more, come downstairs when you're ready."

Follow Me

The next thing I remember, I'm on the dance floor and I'm really off! Flying with the music, in another world, LOST IN MUSIC !!!!!!!! Time had no meaning. From behind me but in what seemed to be a far off voice, I hear Bobbie saying, Brian, It's ten o'clock in the morning! We're ready to go to the Balcony now, are you ready to go too? Well, it took me a second to come back into the room but once I did, I turned to her and in what was a statement, not a question, I said with an arched eyebrow, in my characteristically sarcastic manner, "HAS THE MUSIC STOPPED !!!???

Well! She stood back hands on hips with this shit eating grin on her face, leaned in and whispered so emphatically that it turned the whisper into a roar, "GOTCHA !!!!!!!!!!!!" We both laughed and hugged and I told her that they could either wait till the last song or go on without me and I'd meet them at the Balcony but that I would not be through dancing until the very end.

She and Ron decided to wait. They danced with me some and when they weren't, every once in a while, I'd see them watching me, they both had these smiles of supreme satisfaction on their faces. I smiled back with the same supreme satisfaction. They knew this was a place that I belonged and Bobbie told me later that when she asked me earlier in the night what I thought of the place and I responded the way I did, for a fraction of a second, she almost believed me but realized that I hadn't quite gotten it yet but by morning she was sure I would be hooked and she was absolutely right!

Sentimentally It's You

This was a huge turning point for me, my life completely changed after this. I will never forget it and will always treasure the memory. Bobbie, if you're reading this, I love you and will be eternally grateful to you for changing my life. It has been amazing and what's even more amazing is, I'm still here to enjoy the Remember The Partys which capture so much of what once was. I eventually started DJ'ing myself and I'm still doing it today. It's funny, the people that say Disco died, it never died, they just kept changing the name! As a DJ there is no greater pleasure for me than when I'm really on it and I get to explore my greatest passion. Bobbie, from the core of my being, I thank you for the impact you have had on my life and I hope you are well and happy. I would love to hear from you. I'm sure that Chris would pass on your contact info if you get in touch with him at this website (info@remembertheparty.com).

Never Knew Love Like This Before

On with the story. Six months later I was working at the club and it was an incredible, amazing experience. If you are truly fortunate in life, you get to be in the right place at the right time when something really special is happening. For professional athletes it's being part of a team that is unstoppable and takes the title that season. For us, in San Francisco, the place was the Trocadero Transfer. The time was the late seventies /early eighties, we had several seasons. It was truly wonderful and those of us who got to experience it were so fortunate. This special time and place wasn't just for a few dozen people, it was for hundreds if not thousands. Every Saturday night 1,000 to 1,500 people came through the doors at Trocadero. You had to be a member or a guest of a member to even get in much of the time. If you weren't a member, after you had waited in line for God knows how long to get in after sufficient people had left, it still cost you $25 to $50 to get in.

Party Boys

Many people came from all over the world to see what the buzz was about. I had a couple of guys that were regular customers that I would see two or three weekends a month. After talking with them for a while, I asked if they lived in the city or somewhere else in the Bay Area. They told me they lived in Manhattan! That amazed me because I would see them so frequently. I asked if they were out here so often with their work. They said, no, they just came out to party. I asked why they would come all the way out here to party when they had The Saint and all the other clubs in New York. This is exactly what one said and the other was grinning and nodding his head in agreement, "THERE IS NOTHING GOING ON IN NEW YORK THAT CAN TOUCH WHAT'S GOING ON IN THIS BUILDING, THE ENERGY IS AMAZING!"

I've Seen That Face Before

There are so many things that made the Troc unique. There was of course the DJ's, Bobby Viteritti, Craig Morey and Mike Lewis and the light men, Billy Langenheim and Jim "Unit" Feldman. The club staff was like a family. We felt this way because we were sharing this experience together, we were all a part of the Troc. This family feeling extended to the Troc partygoers too. They were the extended family that came every week or as often as they could to dance and just fill the place with such positive, joyful energy.

Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven

The Trocadero was our church, and with a thought I can be back there again.....Hallelujah! It's Sunday morning and the sun is rising and a bunch of us are up on the roof waiting for the guy with the headset to get the cue from Billy or Unit. OK! Off come the skylight covers! The dawn light streams into the room and Thelma's singing "Saturday night is shining, on my Sunday morning face." Everyone's smiling at each other and God it's good to be alive !!!!!! Look! There's that Merchant Marine dancing in front of the mirror between the bathrooms in his wedding dress! It just makes you want to smile. Oh! There's Larry in his mirrored hard hat. Finally the crowd's thinned out and the fan dancers who've had to restrain themselves all night lest they take out somebody's eye have room to let go and really get into it! They're just warming up, give 'em a few more songs. They'll cross over the fans, watch out, give 'em room, it's a frenzied trance! It's wild! It's like the dance floor suddenly filled up with birds flying around the room! It's beautiful! The whole thing is so fucking beautiful!

OK, we're back on the roof again waiting for the cue. To punctuate some dramatic shift in the music, Billy or Unit instructs us to cover the skylights and plunge the room into darkness. Once again they can work their magic with the hundreds of colored lights that fill their palette. The morning stomp begins! It's Al Hudson's One Way - You Can Do It, it's The (212) Band's Manhattan Shuffle, it's Herb Alpert's Rotation, it's Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway's Back Together Again, it's The Invisible Man's Band's All Night Thing, it's The Bros. Johnson's Stomp !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's Disco, it's Funk, it's R&B, it's Soul, it's GROOOOOOOOOVE !!!!!!!! It's fucking incredible and thank you Universe for converging the elements to make it so!

The Beat Goes On

Whooo!! OK, I'm back, what a TRIP! You know, each Remember The Party seems to capture unique elements of the Trocadero Transfer. I know it could never be exactly the same but it's as close as you'll ever get! Thank you Chris and Richard for putting these parties together. Thanks for reminding me of truly amazing times in my life.

Finally, thanks to Dick Collier for creating the Trocadero Transfer and thanks to Stan Walker the manager who I seldom hear get the credit he deserves for making sure that it kept going. Stan, who not once but twice healed the Phoenix and made her able to fly again. The words above are glimpses of my Troc experience. I'm sure Chris and Richard would like to read yours.

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