I was a Pans Person

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I was a Pans Person

Cherry talks to Sounds Jan 1976:

 I Was A Pan's People (And Lived)

Jonh Ingham, Sounds, 24 January 1976

Unwitting girls in White Slavery? Sex objects exploited for male fantasies? The best thing on Top Of The Pops?

IN APRIL, 1972, I had been in Britain two weeks. One Wednesday, after a deceptively educative day at the London Film School, I experienced my first, long awaited Top Of The Pops.

(Regardless of what you may think, you who can intercept it each and every week, this strange but popular programme is legendary with all exiled Anglophiles.)

It was complete even to Jimmy Savile; I was taken in completely.

But what I had never heard about, never been told of, were five (and sometimes six) girls.

"What is this?"

"Oh, Pan's People," replied one of my flatmates (female). "They're awful. They're always out of time. They can't dance at all."

By this time the girls were dancing to a tune that was, in April, 1972, ascending the British Top 30.

Perhaps they did dance out of time, but I had seen a stunning young lady in the group and was only interested in keeping my eyes on her.

She was tall, with mountains of brown hair, and a face that you always imagine you will see across a crowded room and in perfect chemistry Fate will draw you together.

She was lovely.

"They're awful."I hear a lot
 of people say that about Pan's
 People. Especially women. Most 
of these people work within the 
music business or otherwise think 
themselves cultured, sophisticated, enlightened.

"They're always out of time."

My uncle, who is a dairy farmer in Somerset, was very impressed when I told him I was writing a story on Pan's People, he knew I was dealing with a classy subject.

He knew I was with the big league because "they're so beautiful," adding in his broad accent, "They dance so well." My uncle should have been a critic.

I never discovered the name of my fantasy. She was quite similar in appearance to another in the troupe, and when she did leave it was several weeks before I was sure of it. And to this day I've never really watched for precision.

On the occasions I do think about it there has always been something odd, slightly out of place about their movements — not counting the fabled and perennial mistakes — something that prevented the question from receiving a final answer.

Mostly, I just like looking at them in ways not concerned with the aesthetics of dance.

All those people who dismiss Pan's People, they don't seem able to conceive how pleasant it is to sit there listening to a record currently ascending the British Top 30 (assuming it is a passable record) and think hazy rude thoughts while trying to catch a glimpse of something just a bit naughtier than the BBC deem proper for a family show.

Pan's People anonymity has always been a paradox that's entertained me. No one I ever talked to ever knew who-was-who. It was the grain of sand that kept me interested in them — stories on the group seemed scant. Those I did see mostly salivated.

This ignorance was because I considered myself cultured, sophisticated, enlightened. Had I read Titbits, The Weekly News and other voices for the rabble, all would have been revealed. They mostly salivated too, but also delivered hard fact.

Out there in the hinterlands, they knew who-was-who. They were mostly salivating, too.


On Monday morning
 at ten am the group
 meets with choreographer Flick Colby at a scruffy rugby gymnasium off Holland Park Road.

Until four-thirty they will rehearse for that week's Top Of The Pops in an icebox room scarred with graffiti and sport. In front of them stand four large Mylar mirrors. They spend the whole day watching themselves.

Watching them is 17-year-old Gerry, their Number One fan. In former years he would have been described as looking "artistic". He first saw the group when he went to Top Of The Pops two years ago; it was love at first sight.

He keeps all news clippings and articles in two large scrap books, making lists of the best routine, best costume, best background, and also the Instamatic pix he takes at rehearsals. They're his main rave because "they are essential to the pop world — if it wasn't for them, half the people wouldn't watch Top Of The Pops."

On the particular week we are concerned with, they are learning a routine to 'Rocky' by Austin Roberts. They hate it with unbridled passion and hope incessantly that it will drop in the charts so that they will be given another song.

"Rocky I've never had to die before." It is so irrelevant to anything connected to either the girls or their style of dancing.

Short of lifting the climax of Swan Lake, how do you portray the sentiments of a not very good death-song that nevertheless has one of those eternally familiar melodies that is so overused they can probably forecast the exact sales on riff alone?

Have you ever heard a record you hated for an entire day? By the fifth spin you begin to accept your fate; by fifteen begin to discover bits you actually like; by twenty or so find it receding; after thirty you just pray that it won't invade your brain all day on an endless tape loop.

Pan's People hear a song about 90 times by the time they perform it on Top Of The Pops.

All day they turned and kicked to Austin's mournful anonymity, counting their actions to the beat, watching themselves constantly in the mirrors. By mid-afternoon nearly all of them were singing along.

So this was them. I'd begun trying to place names to faces a few days before, but I found it hard going. I was so used to the anonymity I almost didn't want to lose it. It took fifteen minutes hard work memorising while I watched them.

I didn't form any conclusions that day, but I did observe five pairs of extremely well fitting jeans. Perfectly sculpted — the kind you can never find for yourself.

If Levi Strauss could have been there and seen his product stretching and tautening, absorbing effortlessly the stresses and strains of the turning and kicking, his heart would have swelled with pride.

The girls learn at 11 am on Tuesday whether the record has descended or not. Thankfully, Britain's record buyers are showing their better judgement, and 'Rocky' has dropped. They begin to rehearse to a new waxing.

Then Nash calls back. By complicated transgressions of a BBC ruling, wherein it is forbidden to play any Christmas oriented music before December 1, Top Of The Pops is that week in late November full of Christmas hopefuls and hotsies, and he eases pressure by using an old clip from a previous transmission. The girls are free for the week.

'Rocky' makes a wonderful frisbee, and the girls prove to be excellent frisbee-ers. In about five minutes 'Rocky' is so much scattered shards of plastic. Pan's People should have been critics.

Once the song was changed three times on the Tuesday afternoon. Once they learned a fairly complicated routine for Elton John's 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', to be given a bright idea by Robin Nash on Wednesday morning — they would dance to Barry White instead, probably figuring Barry's sophisto sweat was more to the point than some Sixties psychedelic doggy-doo.

They had about an hour of rehearsal. Next week they will have one day to learn a complicated number involving canes.

Each time the song is changed a new routine must be choreographed, both for dancers and cameras, and costumes changed.

You wonder why sometimes they don't look so hot?

That afternoon, Flick runs them through '7-6-5-4-3-2-1-(Blow Your Whistle)', a number for live gigs.

"It's dead," she complains in her impeccable Brooklynese. "Bounce! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!"

She sends them to the back of the gym, to watch it as audience. It is only then that their diminutiveness is plain; Cherry just tops five feet.

Their mannerisms are beginning to surface: Ruth singing along, Sue throwing herself into every movement that extra inch more than everyone else, Cherry fluttering her hands and lifting her depthless-pool eyes in that certain beautific manner that has made her the new prime hearthrob. Plus Lee and Mary, the two new members, the girls with "that two-in-a-thousand look".

Their routines are quite democratic, each girl sharing the spotlight, coyly bumping and grinding in a style that might best be described as disco-burlesque. They finish the afternoon rehearsing for their appearance on the Christmas Morcambe and Wise show.

They twist and twirl around chairs, every kick — each straight leg arcing up to a degree very nearly perpendicular to the floor — a painful reminder how out of shape one really is.

I saw my first dance troupe at ten — the Rockettes at New York's Radio City Hall. An infinite line of ladies exactly the same height strutting with machine-like precision. It was fantastic.

Down through the years every dance troupe in every variety show had reinforced that machine-like precision. They were dancing machines.

It takes a while to realise that Flick isn't dictating how an action should be performed. When you pull back and try and focus on all five at once it seems oddly out of synch, but then they'll drop a cane to the floor, five simultaneous thunks, so it's precise after all.

What's distracting is that you are forced to deal with five individual dancers, make decisions about them as people and what they are doing, recognise each one's existence. It is no longer some kind of precision syncopated wallpaper.


Pan's People beginnings are hazy with the mists of time. In 1965, Beat Room became BBC2's first colour pop programme. It is so obscure no one can remember seeing it.

Part of Beat Room's bid to win an audience were the Beat Girls — Ruth Pearson and Dee Dee Wilde were Beat Girls. According to Dee Dee, so was Flick Colby.

But according to Flick she didn't move to England until 1966, married to a guy attending the London School Of Film Technique. In 1972 this institution was called the London Film School. Today it is called the London International Film School. So it goes.

In New York she had been with the prestigious Joffrey Ballet, "which isn't classical, but has the same hangups".

In London she took Dance Centre classes in an effort to get warm. She became an assistant at the school and met Babs, Ruth and Dee Dee.

Whatever the chemistry, by Christmas, 1966, they were all in the same troupe. They quit when asked to work over Christmas for £7 each. On the night of December 8 they sat up all night deciding on a name. Finally, Flick and Babs decided upon Pan, he being the god of dance, among other things.

They gave themselves a year. No one had tried to sell a pop music dance troupe before. Initially they received bookings on the Continent, proving to be very big in the monthly Belgian television pop programme Vibrato.

Then they secured three seasons with Bobby Gentry's television show, continually handing around a pretentious handout describing themselves until Colin Chapman, then producer of Top Of The Pops, gave them a chance to prove themselves. Pan's People have been on Top Of The Pops for eight years.


Robin Nash, current producer of Top Of The Pops, has just wrapped up another yowzah edition of his programme. Ten million people watch it every week. That's a lot of audience.

Uh, Robin, apart from the fact that they're relief from endless groups and artistes, and that they can provide a means to air records by artists otherwise unavailable, what in your estimation is the function of Pan's People on Top Of The Pops?

Robin fixes me with an enigmatic smile that could mean everything or nothing.

"Well…" He considers the question and replies archly. "A lot of servicemen watch Top Of The Pops…"

Not to mention men on North Sea Oil Rigs. And, of course, Her Majesty's Prisons. Anywhere where there's an ocean of men and a drought of women. An astute lad, that Robin.

Listen: We all know why we're this deep in this story, so let's stop beating around the bush.

Ruth is hazy on history — excusable in a lady who can claim three grandmothers — but she maintains the group weren't really conscious of what they were creating in terms of their image.

"I just wanted to be a ballet dancer like some people want to ride horses — just hang on."

That most of her audience comes to see their fantasies "frightens me, because I don't know if I can live up to it. It doesn't do to think about it too much."

Sue, talking of costumes, had said. "You panic when it's really scanty. Then the toupee tape comes out." Making up for Top Of The Pops she said she prefered the faster numbers, "the rude ones". It seemed a contradiction in terms.

Why do you like the rude ones?

She replies defensively that dancing on the whole is very rude anyway, going into the history of the dance and its various aspects and stages: beauty, eroticism, ritual, etc. But Lee, endlessly preening her already immaculate face at the next mirror, gives the more quote-worthy answer.

In properly husky voice she breathes: "Because they make you feel good."

On another occasion, an exasperated Sue exploded: "Honestly, sometimes I wish we could just dance in the nude and get all that out of the way. Five bodies. So what?"


It would take a great philosopher to explain why the human race is so preoccupied with sex. Especially men. Perhaps because it makes you feel good. The trouble is, men seem to think they have a monopoly on it.


The film world has always been interested in its own sexual proclivities and scandals. The music world, though, is more one sided in its interest.

Seldom do you hear whether Mick Jagger really is as good as Mick Jagger, the gauge of Paul Rodgers' shotgun discussed, the implications, let alone a mention, of Jimmy Page's monogrammed whip case.

Yet every female rocker is categorised, moralised and dissected on her sexual habits and tastes and little else. If Lynsey De Paul tears hotel rooms apart with her bare teeth, no one's mentioning it.

The weird thing is that the ladies with a taste for teddy-bear time are put down and dismissed by both males and females.

Considering that teddy-bear time with your fave rave, or almost any star, is one of the major reasons for them being a fave rave, or a star, in the first place, it would seem that those men would be the more eager to meet those ladies. Why women put them down though… All I know is the more I know women, the less I know about them.

Pan's People are bandied about on the same basis. Sifting through the wafting streams of gossip in search of grist for the story, I was always confronted with gossip and innuendo, that.

Also, people automatically assume I was, you know…

"Did you pull one of them?" asked a writer (female).

"Combining business with pleasure, eh?" cracked the secretary.

The Popular Press are always ready to give space to Pan's People, especially when they can moralise.

When Robert Powell, the "television Christ", was found to be living with Babs they had a field day, questioning whether such a man had the moral right to play such a role. As if Mary Magdalene was without sin.


"The high-kicking, bottom-wiggling, hip-swaying group." The London Evening News said that. They also presented "that two-in-a thousand look".


Pan's People have a stock answer when reporters start getting close.

"What we do in our private lives is our own business."


"There were two monsters with us when I was a boy, and I celebrate their extinction today… They were the arbitrary lusts for gold, and, God help us, for a glimpse of a little girl's underpants.

"I thank those lusts for being so ridiculous, for they taught us that it was possible for a human being to believe anything, and to behave passionately in keeping with that belief — any belief."

Kilgore Trout, a latently successful science fiction writer, said this when accepting the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979. I found it in Kurt Vonnegut Jr's Breakfast Of Champions, which was published in 1973. So it goes.

Kilgore really seems to have a kernel there. I thank him and Kurt for help and inspiration in this story.


Briefly, around 1971, Pan's People had a manager. He introduced the concept of live shows. They perform at discos, universities, dinners and charity events, as well as making personal appearances. You may acquire their services any day between Thursday and Sunday.

Their act consists of three appearances, one song in length, with costume changes between each appearance. On the last number they stay and introduce themselves and then call up five young men to join them in what is labelled "the improvisation". It is up to the promoter how far apart each appearance is, with a minimum of ten minutes break.

Promoter David Hall considers Genesis the most intelligent, easiest rock group around, and their lack of what he called "professionalism" drove him up the wall, let alone all the other groups. Now he promotes cabaret and discos.

"I can book Pan's People anywhere in the Midlands and guarantee a full house. And professional…" From the look on his face, Pan's People are definitely professional.

The girls are dissatisfied with the show as it stands. The first song seems to fly at breakneck speed; no sooner have you adjusted to their presence than they're flitting off again. The audience is confused. Are they coming on again? I paid good money…

It's an uphill battle which they win.

There's no planning to their appearances. One night they're in Torquay, the next at Heathrow. They play in Chester on a Sunday night, get home at five am, and then roll out for Monday rehearsal.

They would like to stay on longer, talk to their audience more, present more varied dancing, go on tour. But it needs time, and the girls work six to seven days a week now.

The ideas that pour forth in terms of what, ideally, they would like to be, shape them into a sort of rock and roll Alvin Ailey. That would really be something to see.

The Alvin Ailey Dance Company is perhaps the most lauded dance company in America; the New York season is sold out a year in advance. It's safe to assume that like the Joffrey "they're not classical, but they have the same hangups." Alvin Ailey is the Led Zep of The Dance.

Although Pan's People wouldn't exist in its present form without rock, they intersect it minimally, tussling with it only twice.

For their last London performance, Jethro Tull felt the girls would fit well with the general carnival. Ian Anderson professed that Pan's People were his type of girl and even wrote some music especially for them.

As with most of their projects, there wasn't enough time for rehearsals; they danced on a narrow platform twenty feet up, with the lights so arranged that they couldn't see their feet."

It was the only time a costume's top has parted company with its wearer; Babs was so busy looking at her feet she didn't even notice.

On another occasion CBS put them in the studio with Wombles baron Mike Batt, arriving in the afternoon to find him still writing lyrics. He had written the music that morning. A few months later, they released a second single. They intend doing another one, but this time it will be done differently.


"The improvisation" is a routine that is fairly simple but looks good. Assuming the guys concentrate on looking good instead of intending rape.

Flick has prepared them for everything a lust crazed man might try, but failed to predict the young gentleman who dropped his trousers at a recent Sunday night Portman Hotel disco. Just as Mary was expected to Bump with him.

The really dangerous ones, though, are the company and club dinners. At the Pedigree Chum Sales Awards dinner about 50 people engulfed the floor, including women. The Salesman Of The Year was insistent on dancing in a direction opposite to the one that Sue intended.

When they rehearse this number they throw the imaginary partners away with a grimace as though ridding themselves of soiled laundry.

Mary and Lee were introduced over the summer via live gigs. At first the intensity of their male fans put Mary off, "but then I saw the funny side of it."

Like Cherry she joined at 17; like her she didn't really care whether she got the gig or not. Cherry had just left school, her agent was loading her with assignments — one of them was for Pan's People.

Mary hadn't really thought that much of Pan's People's dancing, but as a dancer since three she was curious to see what Flick Colby was like. The hard work was a surprise; she likes the challenge of an audience. Seventeen seems awfully young to assume full adult life and simultaneously be a public figure.

Cherry, Sue and Ruth have a similarity of action and expression, like three facets of the same personality. Mary and Lee are still synching; it generally takes a year to feel comfortable. Mary is a master of the instant-crash and can demolish an inneffectual waiter with admirable wit.

Lee perceives herself as part of "Country Life". She has what society considers a perfect figure, and now that her auburn tinted hair is swept to the side, a very high forehead surmounts a very original face, with extremely long eyelashes.

Her fourth dog, a Great Dane, and a cottage near Marlow have just been acquired.

On my second day, as she tied a scarf around her head, I could suddenly see her whipping down the Oxfordshire lanes behind the wheel of an MGB or Morgan. Actually, it's a Sirocco, one of those marriages of Italianate futurismo body wind-tunnelling around a VW frame and engine.


The next week, Robin Nash gives them the Impressions' 'First Impressions'. Flick has decided to employ canes, but since they must tape a guest spot on another show on Tuesday, they have one day's rehearsal.

Flick is about five foot two, wearing espadrilles, bobbysocks, and an A-line denim dress with a swirl of petticoats. A long scarf is wrapped around her neck, her large round glasses peer out from beneath a red hat jammed down on her head. All the while she speaks impeccable Brooklynese.

Once they have the basic routine, Flick starts changing the cane movements, adding complexities. Every now and then she drops back to a corner, working it out in her head, then walking through a motion, whirring the cane through arabesques and arcs, whipping it to parade rest under her arm.

"Hmmm, your tits get squashed from the side."

As the routine becomes more difficult the girls start making mistakes. Flick stops and stands two feet from the mirror, cane in one hand, staring through herself, the others work on their difficulties.

Flick would like them to turn the cane in a 90 degree arc. But because of the way their hands must be held initially, the turn requires a hand movement which Flick keeps changing without realising.

No one tells her, but their glares of displeasure increase. Canes should only be seen in a headmistresses office, and who ever goes in there?

On Wednesday they see their costumes for the first time. They are in the middle of make-up, practising the troublesome bits when possible.

With them is Emmy award winning costume designer Raymond Hughes, assigned to the programme for a couple of weeks.

He is said to spend more money than anyone at the BBC. Just freed from The Pallisers, he envisages them in floor length mink coats, medieval velvet gowns with miles of chiffon — you know, taste.

"More subtlety is needed in this already brash business."

"We'll be the best dressed dancers on television," enthuses Cherry.

"We already are," retorts Flick. "The least dressed, but the best dressed."

They try on their costumes, the kind of swimsuit based, sequin covered tuxedo you'd expect to go with white satin bowlers and cuffs. Sue slips out from behind the curtain hiding them to check herself in a full-length mirror, vainly trying to pull the material down over her cheek.

Mary stares into the mirror. "They're not very flattering."

Sue looks over her shoulder. "I don't think they're meant to be."

Ruth turns towards the designer. "Ray, what do you think?"

"Afraid you'll drop out?"

"Well, I'm brave, but you know Robin…"

The trauma is solved by re-sewing the collars so they stick up slightly.

The run-through looks deceptively easy, in spite of mistakes.

So does the taping.

As the tape begins, Flick directs. She used to script the camera movements, but Nash — an ex-dancer — eventually gave her full control.

"I've always been interested in television because it reaches the largest audience. But not academically — I dislike pretensions. The medium of the masses is okay.

"With Pan's People I'm going for impact. You are cramming it all into three minutes, so it must be re-defined, defined, distilled — but within that I don't want to destroy the individuality. There are lots of problems: the perspective's flat, the size of the screen, the speed of the cameras to that of the dancers…

"I keep playing and juggling with their image. I try not to hide the naughty bits, but we don't try to be naughty or salacious. We try not to tease. But we enjoy being girls."


Thursday evening, The Round Table is having their annual charity dinner in Coventry. The Round Table is a group of gentlemen under 40 who are either self-employed or of managerial status.

While they dine and become pleasantly pickled, Pan's People sit upstairs watching themselves on Top Of The Pops. There are laughs and grunts; a flash of Lee's breast draws an "Oh, God" from her.

It should keep North Sea Oil flowing another week.

Since it's just us men here, know what I mean? The warm-up comedian rapidly teeters off the edge between good and bad taste and plunges into the mucky abyss.

As all us men roar at some blunt, demeaning hilarious punchline, a waitress mutters sardonically: "The trouble with this job is you've heard them all before."

"So put your hands together' for Pan's People, because it's hard to clap with one hand afterwards."

With an intro like that, how can you fail?

They have a catwalk about six feet wide to perform a dance that normally occupies at least twice as much space.

They are dancing to Maria Muldaur's 'I'm A Woman', partially fleshing out the lyrics. They are dressed in what appears to be lacey peach coloured fringe and little else.

It must take an amazing amount of self-confidence to be up there, black tied and tuxed men disappearing into the dark corners, drooling or turning to each other and nodding agreement. "Oh, they're quite good — much better than on television." And they are.

Jane is an attractive lady in her late thirties, a friend of the stripper. She likes Bach, Rachmaninov, Simon and Garfunkel — beautiful, nice music. She watches Pan's People almost every week.

"I like looking at young people, it makes me wish I could get up and do the same." Her daughters also watch.

A good portion of Pan's People's weekly mail is from girls — how can I become like you? It is apparently the In-thing at junior schools to play "Pan's People".

Charity is in the form of an auction. Amongst the television, wristwatch and free weekend are a pair of virgin Pan's People knickers. Satin brown, with lace on the bottom. Janet Reger, perhaps. Last year's pair went for £56, but this year the gentlemen found £64. They will no doubt be framed and hung in the office.

After "the improvisation", spotlighting Ruth keeping a heavyweight boxer from trying to help her top remove itself, the girls are sipping tea before departing. Several gentlemen come over for autographs. It is discerned that many of those present were there primarily for Pan's People.

"I know it's quality not quantity, but they could have danced at least twice as long. That comedian and stripper were nothing, but those girls…" The gentleman, under 40, telling me this suffuses into a rosy glow. He asks the name of the petite girl with the cascade of thick brown hair and large eyes. I tell him.

He likes the whole presentation of the group on Top Of The Pops, the lighting and the camera movements; his sons watch with him. All fine incentives for viewing, my good man, but what about the fantasies aspect?

"Well, yes, there is that, too…" He leans towards me confidentially. "But I think my fantasies are more mature than my sons."

It seemed impolite to ask him just what they might be.

Frank and Bob, though, don't have to be asked.

"Pan's People have the aura of what your average man would like to have without paying for it," Frank offers.

He and Bob are at the De Bere Hotel near Cheltenham, where a Thursday night disco is having its inauguration. Their wives do not know they are there.

Frank opines that the group hasn't the same savoir-faire since Babs left. Bob agrees. One of them "looks like a seller at Boots". They swill back more bitters. The little bits of dead yeast in it dissolve in their stomach and soften the edges of their brains a bit more.

"It was the big event in college," reminisces Frank.

"Every week, see Pan's People. It was like Playboy, Mayfair. Mastubatory fantasies. No, really."

More bits of dead yeast dissolve.

Out here on the edge of the Cotswolds, the successful young middle-class aren't worrying about whether Pan's People are liberated or exploited women, or what their political views are. That only happens at colleges and universities. Where the clientele thinks itself cultured, sophisticated, enlightened.


The girls think Marx is great. Groucho, Harpo and Chico.


"I think we all feel quite liberated, really," says Flick. "One place women have had a dominant hand, since 1850, is dance. The biggest hassles are guys who use the fact you're women to put you down.

"In the old days we were always treated like children, especially in Belgium. But we got around that by using our feminine wiles." She smiles impishly.

"The big problem as a dancer is there's not much money, you can't retire to the country or anything, but you've been earning since 17, so you're not ready to be dominated by a guy. It's hard to move into a new world and find something and not be bored."

"We're aware of our sexuality," concludes Ruth. "We're women, we know what we're doing."

Except for that brief interlude in '71, Pan's People have managed and conducted their nine year career themselves. They didn't even have a publicist until last summer.


Not everyone jiving to the hot rhythms out there at the De Bere Hotel thinks like Bob and Frank, though. No siree! That gentleman getting on in youth over by the bar is only entertaining a client. That gentleman chatting up the young lady from Canada and a supposed Pan's People fan, isn't going to admit any such thing in the proximity of a woman. She, in turn, asks if I want her honest opinion.

"They were quite good," she said diplomatically. "Any five girls could do it. I don't fancy the job myself… They've got a good sense of rhythm."

Those fancying the job must be good looking, ex-ballet school, have a good personality, and be dedicated.

"I'm looking for more than just a dancer," says Flick. "She must be pretty and saucy, but also tongue-in-cheek. I don't look for a specific type, but the girl-next-door look is critical in a new girl. I like to exploit their anonymity, and then take that one step further. The girl-next-door, but do you really want to know the girl-next-door?"

Even though Lee and Mary have been with them since June, auditions continue. Flick would like to raise the number to six — "it's more luscious".


There have been thirteen Pan's People. Remember Caroline? Remember Andrea? What do you do when you leave? Most dancers retire around 30, and although Pan's People make £10,000 a year, "you can't retire to the country."


Dee Dee, who left earlier than expected due to hip trouble and is now forging a career as model and actress, has never been solo before. Nonetheless, "it's more of a challenge, you have to fight."

Ruth isn't sure what she will do when she leaves. She's even entertaining the thought of returning to school. "Funnily enough, I'm not at all worried about it. It's like starting a second life."


Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, through, a Mrs Savage is thinking entirely different things about Pan's People from those we've encountered thus far.

After observing them dance to Don Covay's 'It's Better To Have (And Not Need)', wherein they swished and sashayed skirts, and then observing her young daughters imitating the group by lifting their skirts above their heads, and the effect this had on young men present, she shot off a hot letter to the BBC, accusing the group of causing 14-year-old pregnancies and other horrors.

It's a true sign of national consciousness when you have your own Morality Brigade.

On another aspect of the Edge are the phone callers.

"Hello, Mary Corpe. I know where you are. I can get to you anytime." Heard on a variety of phones in a variety of retreats, culminating at her parents' home.

"Cherry Gillespie, if you go out you'll be kidnapped. And I'm going to tie you to the bed."

Cherry's shiver and grimace as she relates this has to be seen — it is one of the inadequacies of language that their panoply of facial expressions, especially Cherry's, cannot be put on printed page.


What with New Journalism rampant — try to know them from the inside and all that — it seemed essential to know what they experience on the dance floor.

Since I am nine inches taller than the tallest Pan's Person, and fourteen inches taller thin the shortest, and do not shave my legs, being a People for a night didn't hold much promise.

But Fate works in mysterious ways, and at the De Bere Hotel I found myself part of "the improvisation".

Simultaneously, we dance forever and its almost immediately over. Apart from Sue, who is in front of me, everything else is a blur.

They, on the other hand, are not only directing their partners, avoiding stray hands, and maintaining awareness of where everyone else is, but also acting as critics on the critic. Good thing I'd been practising the Bump…


"We're Betty Grable; we ain't Deep Throat." Flick Colby said that.

Interesting to hear that instead of the Barry White routine, it should have been a routine for Elton John's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
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Re: I was a Pans Person

Blimey GJB did you type all this out?

I posted this article in the pics section last year

My love must be a kind of blind love, I can't see anyone but you...

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Re: I was a Pans Person

No I just have access to the text version, so copied and pasted it. I'm a one finger typist so that lot would have taken me days to write LOL.
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Re: I was a Pans Person

Ah, ok yes that would take ages unless you have an expensive scanner that can read the text.
My love must be a kind of blind love, I can't see anyone but you...