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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.

Toronto 1977: Gays and Punks

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The punk scene started up in Toronto in late 1976 and there weren’t many places to play.  When The Viletones began burning bridges in ’77, with owners scared to let them into their clubs, manager Tibor Takacs had to search for someplace new.  He ended up at Club David’s, a gay nightclub at the intersection of two laneways near Yonge and Bloor.  (Read about David’s history here in an excellent article by Denise Benson.)

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Photo by Wendy Peacock.

“You wouldn’t think these people,” says Viletones guitar player Steve Koch in our movie, pointing to a picture of leather-clad punks, “would be thought of as bridge-builders.”  These were two small communities trying to survive in the small-minded atmosphere of Toronto, where disco and classic rock were king, and people didn’t want to know about queens.

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The Ugly at Club David’s, photo by Vince Carlucci.

That they did manage to co-exist really says something, but there was still homophobia, and CEAC founder Bruce Eves recalls getting beaten up at the club after kissing a guy.

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If weren’t ironic enough that he got beat up in what was still primarily a gay club, its notable that CEAC was the avant-garde art gallery that Bruce allowed Diodes manager Ralph Alfonso to set up shop in their basement in 1977, creating the six-weekend-long hangout and punk club The Crash ‘n’ Burn.

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When The Last Pogo Jumps Again co-director/producer Colin Brunton got an assignment to shoot a short two minute 16mm film for the course he was taking at the old Toronto Filmmakers’ Co-op he headed over to Club David’s with Liz Aikenhead and instructor Patrick Lee.

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The Ugly were on the bill, as were The Viletones, and lead singer Steve Leckie said he would kill himself on stage.  “Its my party and I’ll die if I want to,” boasted the handbill.  (He’d later use that ruse when the Viletones played CBGB but he’s still alive today.)

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After a New Year’s Eve bash in 1977, there was a fire, and in ’78 Sandy the owner was murdered. The surviving members of The Ugly speculate that the fire was an insurance thing, and Sandy was murdered because of some bad business.

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There were a few gay murders around that time, and The Forgotten Rebels got attention by releasing the song 3rd Homosexual Murder in 1978.  That also got the attention of indie-friendly radio station CFNY-FM, who refused to play it or any other Rebels songs.

Club David’s no longer exists, and a condo is now in its place.

The Last Pogo Jumps Again opens theatrically at The Big Picture Cinema at 1035 Gerrard Street East in Toronto on Friday November 1, and runs to Wednesday November 6.  There’s a 3:30 matinee on Sunday November 3, and another matinee on Thursday November 7 at 3:30.  All tix are $10.00;  the Thursday matinee is open for students and unemployed for $5.00.

 

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