Your Troc Memories

Bobby Moske's Troc

In the late '60s and early '70s I was picking music for the very first openly gay bar in Minneapolis. When asked to describe the kind of music I chose, I could only call it "New York Gay Bar Music", there was no other term.

We were living in a very exciting era. Some friends came from Minnesota to San Francisco and declared a new lifestyle, they called themselves "The Cockettes". I was on the radio and television and for the first time in history felt comfortable acknowledging my "gayness" on the air. We were marching in public gay parades, we were visible!

As the 70s progressed I was dancing in clubs all over the world, from Studio One, and Studio 54 (and The Saint a few years later), to gay "discos" in Ibiza, Berlin, Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand, and even Africa. It was a whole new world.

Around 1979 I was on the radio in Los Angeles and remember reading a news story about the march on the Court House in San Francisco after the death of Harvey Milk. I thought how wonderful it must be to live in a city where an entire gay population could openly protest to make their voices heard. This had only happened once previously at Stonewall in New York. I also remember hearing about a new club that had just opened called the "Trocadero Transfer". I desperately wanted to be there.

Some months later I quit my job and moved to San Francisco, just in time to get in on the ground floor of the weekend ritual affectionately known as 'Going to the "Troc".' I had danced in clubs all over the world but this club was different. Everyone knew each other. There was a "Troc" community, a sense of family that I have never experienced in any other gay club.

The lighting designers and the resident DJs were the "stars". The music they brought us became historical gay anthems, the lights adding another dimension to the sounds. The outlandish conversations and nefarious goings on in the banquettes seemed sometimes so "out of this world" that you occasionally were convinced that you had been speaking a different language entirely.

The thing that made The Troc so exceptional was that it was so completely "inclusive". Anyone who wanted to share in the experience and be a part of the party could join in. There were no restrictions. The joy and the celebration were available to anyone who showed up with the right spirit.

I always used to dance by myself at 2:00, (the location not the time), which was behind the pole closest to the bathrooms, (ah, those infamous bathrooms!) I danced alone because when the music was really right and the mirror balls were turning my high into an extraterrestrial experience I got into the "Zone". The "Zone" was a place where I was just a spirit, no body, no mind, no clutter, just a spirit dancing in Heaven as I imagined Heaven to be. No consciousness of who was watching me, or what had happened that day, or what would happen tomorrow. It was as close to a Zen experience as I could imagine. The "fan dancers" were usually in the "Zone", I could tell. It seemed like the whole club WAS the "Zone" sometimes.

For me, the arc lights were the highlight of the whole experience. Coupled with the mirror ball cluster they took you to places that no other technical lighting set up has ever done, even to this day. The arc light operators had us in the palm of their hands. They could create the most dazzling original paintings every night from the brightest and most beautiful streams of color combinations to the most subliminal shimmering hints of color and muted streaks of light catching the balls so discretely that you weren't even sure if you really saw them until you noticed the dancing bouncing collage they created on the dance floor. These lighting gods and goddesses could really play with our heads in the most whimsical of ways. Using the "less is more" theory to the fullest combined with the musical cues created by the rhythm and notorious blackouts, these people pretty much piloted where I was going on any given evening.

So many nights I remember the sun coming up and streaming into the club. It seemed to happen in an instant during a carefully timed song, taking us from high energy, dark, dirty and "squirty", to the most beautiful morning music, all in an instant. At least that how it seemed. Of course it probably happened over the course of several songs but I liked my reality better.

Truly, there was no other place on earth like "The Troc". Appearances by every famous diva from Viola Wills to Sharon Redd, Lime to Eartha Kitt graced the stages of that disco era wonderland. It was not just a club, it was a total experience; one that you can only remember with fondness if you were lucky enough to have been there. Only remember, until NOW that is! Are you one of the lucky ones? Can you "Remember The Party?" I can!

Bobby Moske, a.k.a. ArcDaddy

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