From April 1968, through to April 1976, dancers Pan’s People were a fixture on Top Of The Pops on Thursday nights on BBC1, as the show went out to viewing figures of up to 15 million per week.
Essentially, if a record charted and the performer couldn’t be on the show, Pan’s People would perform a choreographed routine to the song. Named after Pan, the god of dance, music and debauchery, they were formed in 1966 with an initial lineup of Flick Colby, Babs Lord and Dee Dee Wilde.
A couple of extra girls joined and left, before their Top Of The Pops debut in 1968 with a settled lineup of Colby, Lord and Wilde, plus Ruth Pearson, Louise Clarke and Andi Rutherford – with Flick Colby doubling as choreographer. From 1970 Pan’s People were appearing on Top Of The Pops every week, plus in the opening titles – so they quickly became part of the visual fabric of the show. With a couple of lineup changes due to pregnancy, and Colby exiting to concentrate on the choreography, Cherry Gillespie and Sue Menhenick joined.
The format stayed largely unchanged despite a couple of member updates, until 1976. Ruth Pearson, by then the only remaining original member was looking to retire, and Flick Colby was looking to refresh the formula. Without notifying senior BBC management, Colby and Top Of The Pops producers formed a new mixed sex group, Ruby Flipper, with Ruth Pearson also managing. Pan’s People bowed out in April 1976, ten years after they formed.
If the various Top Of The Pops theme tunes can claim to be the UK’s sound of the 70s, then Pan’s People were every bit the visual equivalent.
We’re delighted to be welcoming the fabulous Meyer Dancers to the Lost In Disco family on Saturday. Check them out at their website.