Saturday, December 02, 2006

Discosusi and Finnish DJ Hall of Fame

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Diskosusi ("Disco Wolf") was a magazine (or maybe "fanzine" would be a more appropriate description for this pocket-size amateur publication) that was published in Tampere from 1979 to 1982, as its sole purpose to unite Finnish DJs, disco music fans and clubbers of the day. In its heyday Diskosusi was distributed in Finnish discos and clubs, at its best reaching an edition of 10.000 copies. The primus motor behind Discosusi was Pentti "DJ Pena" Teräväinen (b. 1956), one of the veterans of Finnish disco culture and an organiser of the union of DJs who started his record-spinning career in 1972. Diskosusi did its share in contributing to local DJ/disco culture with charts, background histories of artists, DJ interviews and naturally record reviews. The magazine covered all popular styles of disco and dance music, but also some artists performing 50s style of rock'n'roll and rockabilly revival, extremely popular in the late 70s Finland, would find their way to the pages of Diskosusi.

The DJ culture has undergone many changes since the original disco days. Whereas today's "star" DJs mostly remain just silent and technical masters of record beatmatching, the yesteryear DJs were often hyper-talkative and flamboyant "masters of ceremony", not only spinning records but also introducing them to audiences and raising their spirits the best they could; sometimes also wearing outlandish costumes to add to the rockstar-like appearance. Finnish discotheque culture celebrates this year its 40th birthday, though the actual heyday of disco was had in the late 70s when blockbuster films like Saturday Night Fever kicked off the dancefloor mania also in these Northern latitudes.

One of the Discosusi interviewees was Tapani "DJ Beaver" Ripatti (b. 1950), who had became a small celebrity in the late 70s by being a regular face in TV's popular "jukebox jury" show called Levyraati, and through his own radio shows -- such as Ocsid (read that backwards) -- in 80s and 90s gained a legendary position in Finland playing Hi-NRG disco and Italo, and later on even moving to rave techno. (I had an honour myself to DJ in 2004 as a warm-up to Mr. Ripatti in Helsinki's Kerma -- during my own set, punters were content to stay sitting down sipping their beers, but when Don Ripatti started to work the room with his classic 80s and 90s tracks and did his famous speaks over the records, the same people just went nuts on the dancefoor!)

DJ Pena, still going strong these days (though playing for more mature audiences now) with his Discopress and Hitit magazine, is also instrumental in establishing the Finnish DJ Hall of Fame, the gallery of DJs who have behind them a career of at least 25 years (and now found also exhibited at Tampere's Tabu Wine Bar). There are now over 30 members in the DJ Hall of Fame, including such disc-spinning veterans as Tapani "Beaver" Ripatti, Markku "DJ Edward" Vesala, Jyrki "Jyräys" Hämäläinen, Pekka "Takku" Kotilainen, Kari "Nite" Niiranen, Pentti "Poppamies" Kemppainen, Esko "Eemu" Riihelä, and Johnny-Kai "Johnny" Forssell; many of these familiar names also in Finnish music media and radio.

Pentti "DJ Pena" Teräväinen in 1979

Tapani "Beaver" Ripatti, also 1979. Alongside the obligatory aviator glasses, apparently moustaches and folk-style cardigans were also "the must" those days...

Gallery: 1979 ads for Tampere discos

(Thanks to Juri for the copies of Discosusi!)

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