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Better Days

Related: nightclubs - Tee Scott - disco music - house music - New York music


Better Days was a New York dance club which opened in the 1972 and closed in 1988. Re-opened and closed again in 1990 or 1991. It was located on West 49th Street.

DJs Bert, Tee Scott, Bruce Forest, Francois Kevorkian, Kenny Carpenter, Larry Patterson, Shep Pettibone, and others played to a loyal, attitudeless black black crowd over a period of more than 15 years.

Bruce Forest was the house DJ at Better Days from 1981 to 1988. Bruce Forest helped Shep, Dave Morales, Louie Vega, Junior. Indeed, He also discovered David Cole. Bruce also has an inside story to share about a live performance by Loleatta Holloway at Better Days which has been appropriated by Junior Vasquez called My Loleatta

From a Tee Scott interview, 1994

The Candy Store was the place where Tee was exposed to mixed music. Tee Scott was at the Candy Store from May of '72 until July of '72.

  • Then, what happened then was another twist of fate: this customer who liked Tee's music so much told Tee that he should contact Better Days. Bert, the lesbian deejay who was at Better Days (before her they played a juke box) did a real no-no with the boss' wife. The boss' wife had asked her to play a request, and Bert told her, No, I don't play requests. Willy's had closed and the owners bought Better Days.
  • Tee Scott on his first nights at Better Days: "I went into the deejay booth, and it was real, real, crude. I had to climb up onto this thing; it was unbelievable. There was no such thing as a pre-cue. What they had was a Sony amplifier with a Phono 1 and Phono 2 button, and that's how you switched fram turntable to turntable. No fading, nothing.

    It was a large dancefloor; the lights were very basic at the time. They had this automatic light panel, and lights over the whole ceiling. You could change it to, like, 6 or 8 different patterns: a red ring, a blue ring, and a green ring, like a bullseye. And there was a big board on the wall inside the deejay booth, but it wasn't working when I first started working there. I had to cajole the manager and owner into getting somebody in the there to fix that board - it was there from Year One Disco, back in the 60's. It just lit up, but it wouldn't go through any of the patterns or anything. Talk about primitive. They had a jukebox on in the day, since they opened at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and I would come on at 9 or 10 o'clock at night. I would play from 10 'til about 4; the bars at that time closed at about 4 o'clock. I thought that I'd gotten the job, but when I came in the next day to play, he said, Nobody told you you were hired! So I struggled through that night with no headphones or anything, and then I went home and designed, and brought in this little amplifier and headphone thing and plugged it in so I could had pre-cue.

    Possibly the only deejay ever to build your own mixer...

    And then I started on the light system, and the boss was so cheap he didn't want to put it in, and I would go and buy the materials with my own money and put it up myself, and eventually he would pay me and do it the right way. You know, in the electrical sockets and all that. I was running these with AC line chord - I would go buy hundreds and hundreds of feet and put it up on this very high ceiling, and run the wires into the deejay booth, so I could have a flash of light, and a red circuit and blue circuit that would light up the whole room. He didn't want to spend money for boomers or tweeters, so I went out and made two clusters of tweeters, and ran the wires myself to make the sound better, and eventually I wound up getting Alex Rosner to do it. He was one of the main competitors for Richard Long, although not quite as good. Rosner put in the very first disco sound system; that was at the Gallery, with Nicky Siano, back in '74 or '75. So meanwhile, the Gallery was opening, the Loft became popular - that was with David Mancuso - and these were after hours clubs that didn't open until 12 o'clock and didn't close unitil 7 or 8 in the morning. They had these fabulous sound systems, I had this rinky-dink sound system, and it was a constant tug of war with customers. When people started going to the underground clubs, Better Days was a bar-club, and these other clubs were open all night. I had to compete with them, and I had to diligently start improving my sound system and my music: I made it so that when you came into Better Days, you started dancing from the time you got in there, and you did not stop until you gat out of there. And not only that, but Better Days was known as a gay, black, mililtant club.

    By militant you mean?

    It was rough - street rough. Or that was the way people looked at it. And there no such thing as a white person, or an Oriental person, or a Spanish person coming down to Better Days. It was known to be black. I endeavored to change that. I started inviting all kinds of people down there; I had to go rub elbows with all the record companies, because at that time, John Brown and other people - John Brown was like, the head of Capitol Records, and I think he is at Virgin now, though at that time he was working for Elektra Nonesuch; and Larry Patterson, who is a well-known deejay in New Jersey -they kind of took me under their wing and told me, Tee, you have an excellent reputation, but nobody knows what you look like! Because I was always so shy, and because the first 3 years I was working at Better Days, I was also working at Family Court from 9 to 5. Then, I'd go to work at Better Days from 9 to 4 at night. It was rough. See, this is how the Baths come in: Continental Baths was getting popular around the time I started at Better Days. Larry Levan was just getting started at that time; Frankie Knuckles was also trying to get started. --TEE SCOTT as interviewed by Daniel Wang on July 14,1994

    Better Days club, New York, early 1990s

    Better Days did not close with finality in 1988.

    The Gotti organized crime family tried to re-open it as a yuppie club called Bedrock, but they were quickly crushed by the Hanna-Barbera corporation for trademark infringement.

    So Better Days re-opened for about a year or less and I got to spin there for awhile intil it closed with finality one week after New Year's (in 1990 or 1991)

    Downtown club promoter Joey Sheridan was the one who brought me in, along with Robert Owens and a few other guests.

    It was a bizarre time..I actually closed the club and played the very last night there, and the owner and I took the place apart for a few hours, then he paid me and I was on my way.

    --John Hall http://www.discogs.com/user/downtown.music

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