The International Writers Magazine
Memoirs of a Disco King

The Disco King
Paul D Roberts

So, how did it all begin? In 1973 I went into the Army, as a Military Policeman. There was a major drug problem going on in Germany.

CID (Criminal Investigation Division) was involved in the investigation of what they called the "Khaki Mafia", a organized criminal element that originated from Vietnam.  The Khaki Mafia was involved with drug running, prostitution, black marketing and drug dealing, you name it, they did it. I was one of the guys sent to work undercover in Germany,  I interviewed for the position and and found out you had to be streetwise, since I was raised in the bay area of California, I knew I was qualified.  Before I knew it I was working undercover with CID's elite D.S.T.  Part of the glory of the job was that I got to wear civilian clothes, grow my hair long, travel throughout Germany and stay in nice hotels.  Of course, I did the whole Serpico look, with sunglasses and trenchcoat.

While working undercover, I found it my frequent duty to go to the many discothèques of Germany.  Disco was 'the' craze in Germany.  I watched the dancers, followed their moves and before I knew it, I became very proficient with my disco dancing.  On the side, I did a couple of dance shows at a few beer festivals,  one time a German actress had someone from her entourage escort me back to her table, she wanted dance lessons.  That whole evening, I provided her with those dance lessons,  I even became very good with my undercover narcotics work, because I was a popular dancer.   I was drawing people to me like a magnet, because of my dance skills.

In 1976, I got out of the Army and the first job I landed was with Arthur Murray's Dance Studio as an instructor.  I started hanging out in the disco scene and entered many dance contests. Some contests I would win, some I came in 2nd or 3rd place.  Nevertheless, I became popular with my unique style of disco dancing.  One day a disc jockey at a nightclub called the Ritz and asked if I could do a publicity stunt.  That stunt consisted of being the first person to break a disco dance record.  I agreed and danced 79 hours, with 15 minute breaks, when we contacted Guinness Book of World Records, they said that the breaks were too long, that they only allow 5 minute breaks to every hour. With the 79 hours of disco dancing, I generated a lot of publicity, so much that someone went on to beat my record at 195 hours.  The news media asked if I would beat the 195 hour record and before I knew it I was preparing myself for a world breaking record.  When I danced 79 hours, I danced the full 79 hours at the Ritz club, when dancing 205 hours, I started dancing at Country Club Plaza shopping mall, from there they transported me in a van to the Sacramento Civic Center. While travelling, I had to keep dancing, when I ate, I kept my feet moving.  I had witnesses go with me to the restroom and see if my feet were still moving.  

I accomplished dancing 205 hours, 8 1/2 days, and held the Guinness Book of World Records for one month, before I was beaten.  Whoever has the world's record when the Guinness Book of World Records is published, actually gets into the book. My name was not in the book, but Ripley's Believe it or Not got a hold of me and said they were doing a cartoon of me in their newspaper feature.  

Ripley's also gave me a lifetime membership card, in which allowed me to enter any Ripley's museum for free for the rest of my life. After the 79 hours, I became the 3rd Disco King and after the 205 hours I became the 5th Disco King.  There were other dancers who attempted the world record.  Kathy Kleiber who once was the Disco Queen of Sacramento collapsed and her legs swelled up.  A male dancer passed out and was rushed to the hospital.

Lia Waters, the present Disco Queen of Sacramento went into convulsions and was hospitalized.  Dancing for a world's record was no easy feat.

During the time I was the Disco King of Sacramento, I had some interesting run-ins with celebrities. When dancing with Jeff Kutache's Dancing Machine in Reno, Nevada and Lake Tahoe (casinos), we were the first number to Cher. Cher just went solo in 1979 and making her debut in the casinos. I was honored to meet her. When I went to Hollywood to audition for Skatetown USA and Rollerboogie, I also auditioned for American Bandstand and The Gong Show. Instead I did a bit part for a movie called Grad Night and did a couple of disco commercials. In one of the disco dance contests I entered in Sacramento, Monterock III (disc jockey for Saturday Night Fever movie) was the judge. We became personal friends after the contest and on the night he was judging the contest, I came in 2nd place. At Galactica 2000 in Sacramento, I was a dance instructor and during the evening when the nightclub was open, I always got to sit in the VIP section.

 My last performance as the Disco King of Sacramento was at a nightclub called Eppiminondas.  Disco was on a decline, people were wearing t-shirts that read "Disco Sucks!" and on my last performance, I was boo'd.  Some guy took off his shirt and made fun of my disco moves.  My disco days were ended.  I then moved to Lake Tahoe and joined a professional dance troupe called "Jeff Kutache's Dancing Machine", we performed in casinos at Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada. I lived in a cabin with all of the dancers from Dancing Machine and what was surprising is that we all got along pretty well.

Even though disco had died, I had fond memories as the Disco King.  As the Disco King of Sacramento, I never had to wait in line at any nightclub.  I was allowed to perform at various nightclubs in Sacramento.  I always got to sit in the VIP section of various nightclubs in Sacramento and even other cities like Fresno.  In fact this one Fresno nightclub announced my arrival.  As the Disco King, I was a guest in the Sacramento Parade and they chauffeured me around in a Rolls Royce.

In 1979, I went back into the Army and was stationed in Seoul, Korea. Disco was becoming popular in Korea and before I knew it, I was instructing classes in one of the nightclubs, entering dance contests and working as a movie extra in various Korean disco dance movies and TV shows.

Some of the happiest years of my life. were as the Disco King of Sacramento. I had access to 3 Rolls Royce automobiles. One from a private owner, one from a owner of a popular disco nightclub and one from a exclusive club called Club Lido. They chauffeured me in one of the Rolls Royces and as the Disco King waved at the crowd of onlookers at the Sacramento Parade. Of course, I was with the Disco Queen at the time - her name was Lia Waters.

What amazes me is, a 12 year old girl by the name of Patricia Mary Mitchell was in the crowd at the Sacramento Parade and she asked her father who I was. Her father said, that's the Disco King. When Patricia was 29 and I was 39, we met and married. We are now divorced, but what a coincidence.

So, that's my story. Lights and music, dancing and winning. What's yours?

© Paul D Roberts February 2006

Paul in Catalina

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