Another week, another piece of mod fiction. Weekend Dancer by Talcott Levy is certainly part of a rapidly growing industry.
But with regard this particular work, my mind was put at rest right at the start. An introduction by John Gall, a man I have a lot of time for. If he’s vouching for it, I’m guessing this is a decent piece of work. And yes, it is.
Weekend Dancer is a tale of a London mod in the 1980s. A teenager of Jewish origin, a boy about town and a ‘face’ at the clubs, in the shops and in the coffee bars. But this isn’t an exercise in reeling off records and clothing details. It’s also a love story.
In fact, it’s a love story on two levels. One is based around Tina, a ‘worldly’ girl with a social conscience and the second is around the mod scene back in that particular day. Both of which eventually have a coming together of sorts.
Everything takes place over the course of just a few days. taking in ‘The Bush’, a 100 Club allnighter and an anti-apartheid march, the latter to appeal to the girl of his dreams, childhood friend Tina, who is an organiser on said march. She’s not part of the mod scene, seeing it as escapist and childish. Sol has a choice. Does he walk away from the girl of his dreams or walk away from the mod life.
But there’s so much more than that. The book isn’t just a tale of a turbulent weekend. It’s a snapshot of an era. From a mod point of view, that means the Soho streets (including a visit to Bar Italia naturally), record stalls, vintage clothing shops, the scooters, the mods themselves right across that particular spectrum, the club vibe, the obsessions and of course, the clothes.
There’s a lot of detail here, but thankfully the book doesn’t resort to just being lists or going down the cliche ‘peacock’ route. Well, not much. And thanks to that, it just feels a little more believable as a story. Oh yes, the story.
This is a review, so I’m obviously not going to give the game away on that front, but this is a really good read. The plot rattles along well, the lead characters come to life and there are enough twists and turns to ensure you keep turning those pages. If you happened to be on that particular scene, I suspect you might just recognise one or two people too. Perhaps even yourself. Don’t worry, real names aren’t used and I would guess the characters are ‘inspired by’ rather than ‘based on’.
There’s a touch of Absolute Beginners about it, not least when it comes to the race issues, although this isn’t in that league. Perhaps a bit of Quadrophenia too. But overall, this is an interesting and original tale in its own right. Downsides? Well, packing so much inevitably means some of the lesser characters are less well-formed than you would like and some of the sub-plots trail off a little. I think I’m saying that it could have been a little longer. But that’s really just nit-picking.
In the end, this is a really good read, one of the better pieces of mod fiction on the market, which is down to the quality of the writing and a well-formed plot. Amazing how often one or other of those elements is missing.
If you want a holiday read with a mod slant, I would highly recommend it.
Weekend Dancer is out now as a paperback and is available to order via Amazon.