The band was illuminated by elegant wall candles, not harsh stage lighting. The wood-paneled floors were clean and smooth, not sticky and pockmarked. The air was, shall we say, clear—not full of smoke and sweat.
But the old spirit was still there on Saturday night at Blue, as close to 100 former employees and regulars of the Fore ‘n’ Aft came together to party once again—and to talk about the good old days.
The Fore ‘n’ Aft, opened in 1960 and closed in 1996, was one of the first rock and roll clubs in the country. The Aft was located on West Post Road, next to Paulding’s Cycle Shop. The building currently houses a Hispanic market and a laundromat.
For years, it was the only spot in White Plains that had live music, drawing people from all over the tri-state area—according to Paula Krieger, who became a regular in 1965.
While at the wake of Fore ‘n’ Aft co-owner George Russ in 2009, Krieger and her old friend Peggy “Nurse” Thomas (now Peggy Kaplan) started talking about how nice it would be to put together a reunion of regulars and employees from the 1960s and 1970s.
“We would rather see the people that we were friends with at the Aft than people we went to high school with,” Krieger said she decided with Kaplan.
With help from Larry Reed, a former Mamaroneck resident and current North Carolina resident who scanned thousands of old photos to a Facebook page called “I Drank at the Fore ‘n’ Aft in White Plains,” people were tracked down and invited to the reunion.
The “I Drank…” group is a public Facebook group with over 1,850 members, so a private group was established to keep the reunion at about 100 and to make sure the club’s heyday years were properly represented.
As a bouncer at the Aft during all of its heyday years, Reed, who usually worked the door, said it was great to see two distinct groups of regulars at the reunion: those from the late 60s and others from the early and mid-70s. Though most are now in their 60s—back in the day they were very different groups, he said.
“They seem to be blending well,” he said, with some pride and approval.
Krieger said Saturday night’s event more special to her than her 45th White Plains High School reunion last year.
“We had to go to high school every day,” said Krieger. “We went to the Aft because we wanted to, because that’s where we made friends—that’s where the people we cared about were.”
Krieger said the event was a real testament to the power of Facebook to reunite people.
“Thanks to Facebook,” she said, “we’ve managed to do this whole thing.”
People were convinced to join the social network, she said, and holdouts were recruited using more conventional means. One great find, Krieger said, was Britz Moran, who tended bar at the Aft for 26 years.
Members of the Squirt Band, including lead singer Thomas Percoco, provided live music throughout the evening. Reed said that the band was a regular Aft feature during the 70s and 80s, but that Percoco, known as “Coco,” played in various bands at the Aft during the 60s and 90s as well.
Vintage photos and anniversary buttons were on display at the reunion, and those who have passed away were honored with an “in memoriam” poster. The list of about 25 former regulars, employees, and band members was topped with the name of Russ, who died at age 74.
One attendee, remembering anniversary t-shirts from the 90s that said "We Rocked Your Mother," joked that the slogan could be updated to "We Rocked Your Grandmother."
With help from Krieger’s son, James, a sound mixer—attendees all received a CD featuring the music of three former Fore ‘n’ Aft regulars: The Good Rats, Velvet Night (who later became the Gashouse Kids), and Twisted Sister (yes, that Twisted Sister). They also got a drinking glass with a “Fore ‘n’ Aft Reunion 2011” logo.
Krieger said that t-shirts commemorating the event, which were worn by a select few on Saturday, will be made available through the “I Drank…” Facebook page.
People came from Florida, Virginia, Maine, and, in the case of former co-owner Tito Cordelli, Mexico, where Cordelli and his wife, former longtime White Plains residents, retired to.
Tito Cordelli praised Krieger and Reed for their hard work in putting the event together. He said it was great to see old friends and employees that he thought he might never see again.
As for the attendees, Cordelli summed them up with one phrase:
“Too old to rock and roll, too young to die.”