Setting Up My First Bookings Office In The Swinging London Of The 1960s
Here we go, back in time again. More thrills and spills are on the way as we travel back in time to the early days of disco.
The year was 1967 and I had just moved out of my parents’ home and set up an entertainment bookings office in a smart area of London known as St John’s Wood – just near the famous Abbey Road Recording Studios. We had posh neighbours too, as Paul McCartney’s new mansion was just around the corner. This was Swinging London and I was at the heart of it. My fledgling mobile disco business had just expanded from one mobile to four heavily booked shows – and business was booming.
My new entertainment office was on the ground floor of a trendy 100-year-old terraced house with living quarters above on two floors. Regent’s Park was only three-minutes walk away and soon became my local ‘recovery zone’ after late nights ‘on the town’. A walk around the lakes in the early morning sunshine was always uplifting and highly curative.
Rebellious First Secretary
I only ever hired virgin DJs so that I could train them into our company’s special ways of wowing audiences and gaining a high recommendation rate. I seemed to have a special knack for finding, hiring and then training new recruits into becoming ‘high demand’ Squire DJs. But my priority now was to hire a full-time secretary for my brand new bookings office.
So, after a few interviews and with fingers crossed, I hired my first bookings secretary. A smartly dressed twenty-three year old girl called Sam. She was well presented, had a good telephone manner and was a fast and accurate typist. My only worry was that she seemed, perhaps, a shade too confident? By day three there was a pile of new booking confirmation letters ready to post, so I asked Sam to drop them into the postbox, just across the road, on her way home. This detour was going to take her an extra thirty seconds.
To my surprise, she turned to me with a look of disdain on her face and snapped, “I’m a secretary not a post boy – I don’t post letters”. My mind flashed, ‘Roger Squire, you have been too bloody nice to this girl so now she doesn’t respect you’. So I asked her once again, this time more firmly, and she refused again. So I fired her on the spot. Bang goes my first secretary!
Being Politically Incorrect Was OK in 1967
My second attempt was a lovely twenty-eight year old girl called Fanny. She told me that she had just got married to the totally gorgeous Timmy. She was eager to work in the entertainment business and seemed ideal. In those days, you didn’t worry about political correctness, so I asked her outright if she was planning a family soon. She almost fell off her chair laughing and told me that this was impossible as she was barren – so I hired her.
She was brilliant, but four weeks later she bounced into my office saying, “I’m so happy, I’m so happy – Roger I have wonderful news – I’m pregnant”. Fanny stayed with me for another seven months and continued to be great. Despite these setbacks, the young Roger got steadily better at hiring office staff and the mobile disco business just kept on growing.
Recos, Recos, Recos = Lots of Recommendations
Within one year of moving in to my new St John’s Wood offices, we had expanded to a team of fifteen mobiles and our recommendation rate had also kept climbing. This meant that we remained fully booked-up at weekends for many months ahead. We had also built-up a large number of mid-week club residencies, so things were going really well.
To keep our strong flow of bookings coming in, it was essential that our DJs did more than just play continuous dance music with bits of DJ patter thrown in. We wanted each party to be the best one ever. We wanted our clients and their guests to remember each party as ‘brilliant’ - together with remembering the DJ’s name and the company that supplied him. This was the only sure way to guarantee an endless supply of ‘reco’ bookings - and this policy continued to work like a dream.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 72, Pages 56-58.