DJ Kevin Dinnigan regularly got 2,500 people up on the dancefloor at one of Sheffield’s most iconic 1970s clubs.
Kevin, back in Sheffield on a visit from Australia, was born in Gleadless Valley. Later the family moved to Park Hill flats and went back to Rolleston when he was a teenager.
He became a butcher with Sheffield and Ecclesall Co-Op and started part-time DJing at parties and events. By the mid-1970s Kevin was DJing at both Genevieve’s and the Mona Lisa, run by well-known city businessman Max Omare.
Kevin said: “That was rocking, every night of the week except Sunday and especially on Thursday nights for students, which would be packed.
“The music was mostly disco. Different clubs played different genres of music. I played songs like Peter Brown’s Do You Want to Get Funky With Me?
“I was there for two years and then the Top Rank advertised for a DJ. I went along for the auditions at what’s now the O2 Academy. They renamed the club Steely’s.
Every Saturday night that was the biggest disco venue in the northern hemisphereDJ Kevin Dinnigan
“Every Saturday night that was the biggest disco venue in the northern hemisphere. You could get 2,500 people in.
“I played Michael Jackson, Edwin Starr, all the disco stuff. The film Saturday Night Fever made the discos in Sheffield bigger and bigger. It was incredible.”
There were weekday private functions, mainly big company dinner and dances with a sit-down meal. The Maurice Naylor Band was the house band and Kevin said that Maurice is still playing in his 80s.
Thursday was the infamous ‘grab a granny’ night, “all the single mature women and often not-so-single men would come out and look for a date. It had its place and was as popular as Saturday night.”
The Top Rank also had bands. Kevin particularly remembers the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Police, The Undertones and Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile, featuring guitarist Nick Lowe.
Sunday was Improvisions live music night. The DJ moved to the balcony and a roadie would signal with a torch when bands were ready to play.
One memorable night, three 2-Tone bands played. Madness came on, said Kevin, followed by The Selecter. The Specials ignored warnings that live music had to stop at 10pm.
“At 10pm they walked on stage, only for the plug to be pulled. They didn’t play anything whatsoever.”
Eventually Kevin was bitten by the travel bug and he left Sheffield for Australia on December 12, 1979. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry and later had a show on radio station 101FM until 2005.
Now he lives in Perth with long-time partner Tammy and breeds trotting race horses and researches horses’ bloodlines .
This is his first trip home since 1986. He said: “I’ve been talking to people I’d known and seeing what’s not there any more. There’s been a lot of nostalgia.”