Marc Latilla recalls the jol from the 90s
by Marc Latilla Posted: 2017/08/02
The Junction, situated at the corner of Bree and Claim Street, was owned by Shayne Leith who previously owned Decodance (which eventually became Le Club). It opened in late 1988 and closed sometime in 1990 or 1991 before moving to a short-lived run at Ponte.
It had two dance floors. One was dark with graffiti and the other had murals based on the Rolling Stones ‘Harlem Shuffle’ single painted on various walls. Each dance floor was also a self-contained space with its own bar and entrance that could be closed off from each other. There was also a pool room and a rooftop.
The music was largely alternative, but shaped and influenced by the various DJs that played there: Martin Vogelman, Johnny Future (RIP), Gary Turner, Chris Prior were regulars. The likes Steve Harris, Dennis Woest and DJ Tommi played guest sets or specific themed party nights.
I never got any official tapes from the Junction. In fact, at the time, I had no idea who any of the DJs were. To procure some of the music I loved, and capture some of the songs unknown to me, I snuck my trusty Tedelex boombox in a kit bag one evening and sat next to the speakers all night recording two tapes using the built-in mic. The quality was terrible but good enough to identify the music, which I did over time. I’ve re-created the mix from what is left of the original tapes here:
Like the more dance-orientated club music I’ve already covered in this series, one could mostly only hear this kind of music in clubs. Although there was some alternative music on radio courtesy of Barney Simon, the depth that the various clubs played was way beyond the scope of anything on radio. This was still during Apartheid and economic sanctions, and SA was cut-off culturally from the rest of the world. It was really down to a handful of DJs searching out, buying (from some top class record stores like Hillbrow Records, Street Records, Look & Listen plus various private overseas trips) and breaking the songs we all know and love today.
The tapes were from a Saturday night from the ‘Harlem Shuffle’ dance floor. I never worked out the formula for what music to expect from which floor or who played what. The other floor occasionally had Chris Prior playing rock like Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and Black Sabbath, but sometimes the music was interchangeable between floors. Some nights, one of the floors played a lot of funk, soul, rock and hip hop like Average White Band, James Brown, Tone Loc, Stretch, Prince, Marianne Faithful, Doobie Brothers, Rolling Stones, Doors and Pigbag.
There were some odd people who frequented The Junction. Woman with shaved heads, guys who wore wedding dresses, drag queens, goths, professionals… It was such a mixed crowd that you couldn’t put your finger on the direction it would take. It was also an older crowd compared to the other clubs I was going to. There was no posturing, posing or showing off and everyone seemed to be into the diverse music. Those that dressed up seemed to do so effortlessly like they always just looked that way.
On my 16th birthday, I met Rob Mclennan from No Friends of Harry while walking up the zebra painted stairs. He said a few kind words after the drummer chastised me for staring at the band (I was a fan). I got to see them play up close at the club a few months later.
Read the full piece here
I had taped over a Barney Simon show recorded off 5FM from around July/August 1989. There was some run-off on the second side where the recording stopped. Here is 30 mins of Barney Simon from 1989. The adverts bring back more memories than the music…
In 2012, EMI released a 2CD compilation called UNDERGROUND that I compiled that featured songs played at various 80 alternative clubs. Here are Deezer and a Spotify playlist of the album.