SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — In November of 1979, News 8 reporter Larry Himmel drew the tough assignment of exploring San Diego's hottest clubs.
Over the course of five nights, Larry gave viewers the inside scoop on discotheques and dance clubs – mostly located in Mission Valley. News 8 photographer/editor Tom Zizzi was responsible for the behind-the-scenes work on these fun clips.
Get your bell bottoms and leisure suits ready and let’s get the mirror ball spinning with these vintage pieces.
Larry's first nightlife piece focuses on Maxi's in Mission Valley - an area Larry called "the focal point of San Diego's nightlife." The dance floor was packed, and disco blared as we took a look inside the club. Fashion was also key as Larry noted that patrons of Maxi's "dressed, looked and smelled affluent." Dance/fashion troops performed shows that featured the latest in disco fashions. "If the disco craze is dying, the people at Maxi's haven't gotten the word yet," Larry concluded.
Part 2 focused on one of our city's oldest discotheques, Crystal T's, located near the Town and Country hotel in Mission Valley. Larry said the spot in Hotel Circle attracted locals and tourists alike. The club's DJ - Allen Gregory - talked about his role keeping the party going and the growing visibility and importance of DJs. The spacious club also offered seating for downtime from dancing and drinking - served by the club's costumed waitresses.
Part 3 featured Rasputin's in Point Loma which Larry chose for two reasons: Lori Ball and Mike Kiehm. The dancing duo had recently won the first-ever San Diego Disco Ballroom Dance Championship while representing Rasputin's. Larry spoke with the pair, who had been dancing together for five months - putting in 30 hours a week, about their passion for disco. Larry called their finely tuned moves "disco poetry in motion."
In Part 4, Larry visited Flanagan's in Mission Valley. This spot set itself apart with a live band supplementing the disco hits for dancing patrons. Flanagan's was also different than other spots Larry had highlighted in that it had a more laid-back, "beach-like" atmosphere. Tuesday's $1-drink night was a big hit with many of the people Larry spoke with. A few also described the spot as a bit of a "meat market."
For Part 5, the final installment, Larry highlighted D.O. Mills located in Mission Valley "nestled behind the El Torito" off Interstate 8. When the spot first opened, it focused on the swanky restaurant downstairs, but the disco club upstairs ended up being the big draw. Larry said people would wait an hour or more on weekends to get into the club. D.O. Mills was named for Darius Ogden Mills - the first California banker - and its decor included old bank teller windows and vaults. It was one of the newer night spots which Larry described as "classy but not pretentious."
With his findings at various night clubs throughout the series, Larry dispelled the myth at the time that San Diego was a town of inactivity at night.
“There is life after dark in San Diego and it’s here to be enjoyed,” Larry concluded as he hoisted a glass.