Much has been written about Staples High School’s rich rock concert history (you know — little acts like the Doors, Cream, Byrds …)
Mark Smollin wrote a book about it. Fred Cantor followed with a movie.
But for a few months in 1967, another Westport venue booked some of the biggest bands of the day too.
The Nines Club was the brainchild of Lester Lanin. Somehow, the nationally known orchestra leader heard about an abandoned skating rink on the Post Road, next to a mini-golf course and driving range (today, the site of Lansdowne condominiums).
He converted it into a “discotheque.” There were 3 stages; when one act finished, the next immediately began.
Among the groups that played at the Nines Club: ? and the Mysterians (“96 Tears”), the Left Banke (“Walk Away Renee”), Youngbloods (“Get Together”), Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Vanilla Fudge, Blues Magoos, Blues Project and Vagrants (with guitarist Leslie West).
An early advertisement for the Nines Club. Despite the promises, it was not a “country club without membership dues.” There was no ice skating either.
I don’t know how Lester Lanin got the idea to open a dance club in Westport. I don’t know why it lasted less than a year (though targeting the less-than-lucrative teenage market may have played a part).
I remember it only vaguely. I was in Long Lots Junior High at the time. Some friends and I were hired to help “build” it, though our contribution consisted of a few days of moving sheetrock and cinder blocks.
We were excited though: We were promised that — in return for our “work” — we would get free admission to the Nines Club.
It never happened. It’s easy to stiff 8th graders.
But I did hear ads for all those great bands on WMCA.