Christ The King was a Catholic church on Cecil Avenue/Matopos Road in Bulawayo where monthly dances were held in the church hall. The initiators of these events, in 1969, was a group of local high school scholars, primarily Tubby Cole (who was at Christian Brothers’ College), Rick Mauldon (Milton) and Dave MacDonald, the latter pair being the discos first deejays. It was Dave “Mac” MacDonald who coined the phrase, “CTK – this is the scene!”.
The discos were held on Friday nights and were an instant hit with youth throughout the neighbouring suburbs, and, often, further afield. The entrance was 20 or 25 cents (no more!) but, despite this modest fare, it didn’t discourage some attendees from trying to duplicate, through the use of their spittle, their ink wrist stamps (a token of payment and legal entry!) with others who had yet to enter the building! A hi-fi system (which would have been extremely small by today’s standards) was purchased and a mirror ball acquired. In addition to the mirror ball, strips of metal foil, from which caps for glass milk bottles had been pressed, would be dangled from the roof.
Records were, initially, provided by the members and organisers. Later on, seven singles were purchased from a local juke box company, their origin always being obvious due to the fact that the centre core of the records had been removed to yield a larger central “hole”, allowing them to be played on juke boxes. Efforts were made by the organisers and deejays to dress the stage to add to the ambience and excitement. As a result of these records the selection of music that could be played expanded significantly. As matters progressed, the occasional sight of “Go Go dancers” was also introduced, an instant success amongst audiences, particularly the young lads.
An abiding memory amongst those who attended would have been the row of young ladies sitting passively against the walls of the building awaiting invitations to dance. Once accepted, the couples would join those throngs already gyrating, twisting and shuffling (not encouraged!) on the dance floor. Those suitors whose approaches to dance were spurned were often left embarrassed and at the mercy at their teasing mates!! Needles to say, many of those who “laughed last, laughed the loudest”! On any given evening parents’ were present to ensure that order was maintained and that no extreme behaviour occurred. A certain Mister McDonagh’s, the father of Kevin, is particularly remembered for the strong policing role he played, ensuring that no couples became too “well acquainted” at the function!
In addition to this, the parish priest, the much-loved Father Odilo Weeger, would put in regular appearances but nobody was ever really sure what he made of what was taking place in his hall. Fr. Weeger was widely admired and respected so it is unlikely that he would have encountered anything other than youth on their best behaviour.
The discos were such a success that a control had to be placed on numbers admitted. This resulted in groups gathering in the car park awaiting admission as numbers ebbed and flowed. In due course the deejay roster was increased and some of those who went on to subsequent success, such as Pete Shout, “cut their teeth” on the CTK stage.
The disco heyday were certainly over the two-year period of 1969 and 1970 although, despite some interruptions, they are thought to have continued until 1973/74.
The Christ The King discos are very fondly remembered by those who were fortunate enough to have “been there” and, no doubt, a number of fledgling romantic encounters were established there. The discos were as much a part of local youth culture as were the Texan Rock Band contests or the most popular live gigging venues in the City.