The Saint was the nation's (perhaps the world's) premiere gay dance club during the 1980s, and its closing party began on April 30 1988 - and continued until Monday morning, May 2. Although I loved dance music, I was never part of the Saint crowd; however, I'd go once or twice a year. My first time there was in June 1981, a few weeks before it closed for the summer; the last time was two weeks before the final weekend. And it was more than just a dance floor - there were a lot of other places to explore and "experience".
An ex-lover of mine, Rick, went to closing weekend in two shifts. During his second shift, he got into a bit of medical trouble because he bought some bad GHB and collapsed on the dance floor. He woke up in the special triage unit set up at the club for these type of "situations".
Here are five songs I most fondly associate with the Saint:
- Hills of Katmandu - This beautifully tribal song is the one I associate most with the Saint. The club's renowned planetarium projector that rose out of the middle of the dance floor projected images of stars that swirled on the circular scrim-like ceiling above the dance floor. To me, this effect, along with the glow from the burnt orange lighting, evinced a feeling of being out on the savannas of East Africa. Such a gorgeous song.
- Your Love - This was played during my first visit to the club. It was the group Lime's first hit. While we danced to it, my boyfriend at the time passed out after taking a hit of poppers.
- Dracula's Tango - A great dance song with a Halloween theme.
- Eve of the War - This song is on par with the Hills of Katmandu in terms of its mystical/tribal vibe. What a beautiful orchestral opening. The only verse was, "Chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one he said - but still, they come!". A number of years after the Saint closed I came across the 12-inch single among a pile of records someone was selling on Christopher St. What a find!
- Tonight is What it Feels to be Young - From the soundtrack of the 1984 rock movie Streets of Fire.
The "not-a-care-in-the-world" vibe of the club was brought home to me during a visit in October 1983. It was a week after a truck bomb ripped apart a US Marine barrack in Lebanon, killing more than 250 servicemen. As I pranced on the dance floor at 3AM, I thought of all the serious things going on in the world and how, here on this fabulous dance floor I was insulated from all of it.