Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco

Disappointed with the American music industry, Rodney Bingenheimer moved to London, England, in 1971. There, he discovered and fell in love with the brand new genre of glam rock, which was then unheard of in the United States.

There was great music in London, like T. Rex, Slade, Mott the Hoople, and the Sweet. […] All these bands, in these clubs. And David Bowie said, “You should do a club like this in L.A., Rodney.” And I did. I came to L.A. and put together the English Disco.

Along with his business partner Tom Ayers, Bingenheimer founded The E Club on Sunset Boulevard in October of 1972. It was then moved further down the Sunset Strip and renamed Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco – it soon became one of L.A.’s hottest spots, introducing glam rock to young Americans. Frequent attendees included rockstars (Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, Michael Des Barres), groupies (Sabel Starr, Lori Mattix, Queenie Glam, Pleasant Gehman), celebrities (Kim Fowley, Lance Loud, Mackenzie Phillips), and future celebrities (Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, and Jackie Fox of the Runaways).

The dance floor is a dizzy kaleidoscope of lamé hotpants, sequined halters, rhinestone-studded cheeks, thrift-store anythings and see-through everythings. During the breaks, 14-year-old girls on 6-inch platforms teeter into the back bathrooms to grope with their partners of the moment. Most of the sex is as mixed as the drinks and the drugs the kids bring with them.” –Newsweek magazine

The crowd at the club ranged in age from twelve to fifteen… Nymphet groupies were stars in their tight little world. Some dressed like Shirley Temple; others wore dominatrix outfits or ‘Hollywood underwear,’ a knee-length shirt, nylon stockings, and garter belts. These stargirls streaked their hair chartreuse and like to lift their skirts to display their bare crotches. As they danced they mimed fellatio and cunnilingus in tribute to [David Bowie]’s onstage act of fellatio on [Mick Ronson]’s guitar.” –Tony Zanetta

Once inside, everybody’s a star. The social rules are simple but rigid: all you want to hear is how fabulous you look, so you tell them how fabulous they look. You talk about how bored you are, coming here night after night, but that there’s no place else to go. If you’re not jaded there’s something wrong. It’s good to come in very messed up on some kind of pills every once in a while, and weekend nights usually see at least one elaborate, tearful fight or breakdown. If you’re 18 you’re over the hill.” –Richard Cromelin

By 1974, glam rock was going out of fashion, making way to hard rock and disco music. In October of that year, the legendary “Death of Glitter” party took place at the Hollywood Palladium, where Chuck E. Starr (famous groupie and house DJ at the English Disco) was carried onto the stage inside a glitter coffin, as the partygoers threw roses and glitter at him. Due to partnership and licensing problems, the English Disco was closed a few months later, in 1975.