It was the late '60s and the place was Georgetown University. Your remember. Past the days of Bass Weejuns, Ladybug dresses - the elite of cotton print shirtwists. The cloying, syrupy aroma of Canoe that seemed to mark every Phil Delta Theta. Past circle pins. That time - and mood - was gone.
It was more into Kent State. "Be cool." And "Stay high." And if there was a dress code, it was more like militantly ragged jeans dna blue workshirt.
Anyway, college student Mike Nardella, along with four or so hairy housemates, "all with a definite Animal House social Leaning," were giving themselves a huge bash one Saturday night - that peculiar ritual that has managed to survive, when everything else in civilised society might be thrown into virtual revolution.
"Plenty of beer. Tons of it. And food. We had that," he says now, grinning and scratching his dark head. "But the big thing is, we had to have music," he adds, emphasis his - hands expanding, contracting im mental rhythm with some apparent beats that danced somewhere behind his dark eyes. Aww-wrii-ight.
"So, we spent hours the night before. Taping. We taped everthing we could get our hands on," he says with great satisfaction. There was "Hey, Jude." "Dock of the Bay." "Mrs. Robinson." "Everyday People." "Honky-Tonk Women." Most came from his collection of 45s, started years before.
"When we turned the tape on everybody just went crazy. It was fantastic. The party was just a blast," he says in a sort of matter-of-fact, summary way, laughing into his glass of Coke in a downtown bar one blistering afternoon. "Everbody got bombed and danced all night. We sang. Fantastic."
And, he says, that night of th great party was also the end of Nardella the law-school-bound undergrad and the beginning of Nard: professional record-spinner, party-thrower, mood-maker and businessman.
What actually happened was that some young girls form Marymount College had gotten into the nocturnal fray at some point, and had had such a good time that they called Nardella bright and early next day to see if they could borrow his tapes for their own party. He agreed. Then, withing days, more people had caught on to the idea and started ringing his phone off the hook.
Next, the roommate with the tape recorder - and tapes - abruptly moved out of town. Someone tried to borrow them. Nardella explained that he didn't have them any moe. All he had left was about 2,000 45s. "Great," the fellow said. "Just bring them."
Now Nard's Oldies But Goodies Rock and Roll Review has that original set of 45s plus 20 other sets of between 1,800 and 3,000 platters each, being dispatched all over town. To Sarsfield's, The Apple Tree, to Sargent Shriver's house for a teen party. To the Capitol Hill Club.
There are a dozen full-time record-spinners, with some 15 others doing part-time partying. And thousands of dollars tied up in Peavey speakers, amplifiers, turntables and microphones.
"We got everything. Whatever you want," Nard declares: "You want The Coasters? Bo Diddley? I started buying him when I was six. Dion and The Belmonts? The Searchers? The more off-the-wall the better we like it. We can put up-to-the-minute disco in the middle of it all. Anything goes. It's great," he says, with enthusiasm that might be more like nervous energy on anybody else.
"I've always loved music. In high school I played in the band. Later, I messed around, singing with some rock bands.And I love to party, have a good time. Now, I'm getting to do all of that plus make money."
What he's also doing is providing unique party themes through his music. Or, sometimes, simply becoming he party, though he modestly backs off at the thought of upstaging the host or hostess. You pick the theme, he might advise, and he'll be there to make it come alive.
Like the time the Securities and Exchange Commission decided to have a '50s platter party, complete with costumes - er, period clothing - to honor a new general counsel.
At the appointed time, the spiffy lawyers, demure secretaries and aides flooded the party room, dates and husbands in tow, resplendent in '50s fadgear: White belts and buckskin shoes, turned-up collars, greased out-and-back hair. Girls in wide belts, soft-soled shoes, flared skirts. Everybody looked great, but things were moving mighty slow. So he flipped on the microphone, said a few words, and went into the heavy-duty de-inhibitors: "Stagger Lee," "Wake Up Little Susie," "The Twist."
Within an hour, a sedate 25-year-old paralegal secretary, who normally likes, her hair top-knot tidy and clothes tailored, had commandeered the floor and was into a mean jitterbug. The long skirt that passed for her poodle skirt, complete with crinolines (all from far before her time), was flying. And she was belly-laughing.
"When it's a theme party, like that, it's easy to figure out what to do. See how old they are. And then I just play a spectrum of things I think they'll like," Nard explained.
But, when the thrust is undirected, or there's no specified mix, "You've got to prompt your gap. See who starts tapping their feet first. What we might do then is throw in some disco, familiar songs they might have heard on the radio. Then we take them from there and build them up. We want to build, build. Then let them down for a rest."
Tricky business. Like the Georgetown block party they did a while back. There were tow hostesses, and each sent her list of specified music. One was hard-core '50s. The other was hard-core disco.
"Now, that's a dilema. This one girl walks up to my disc man at the party, says, 'Oh, did you get my list? I'm so excited. I haven't heard the Dixie Cups in years.' My man reached in his pocket and took out the disco list. 'Where did you get that,' she starts hollering."
But Nard took care of everthing. Using a carefully orchestrated program that mystifies a careful onlooker, the record spinner moved the group all the way from "Hot Stuff" by disco queen Summer, around to "Games People Play," and Bo Diddley. "It turned into a great party. Everbody had a good time. The Police only come five times," he joked.