Hill Boulder History: Music Legends Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids
By Harold Fielden
For all those that think that the current Hill is a den of iniquity they need to know what went on at the nightclub Tulagi in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Tulagi was a well-known music venue that not only had local acts but also brought in acts from around the country. Rumor has it that the first show outside Texas that Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top played was at Tulagi.
One band that took advantage of the “permissive” atmosphere at the club was the band Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids (later Flash Cadillac), who played Tulagi numerous times, usually on Tuesday nights. In the psychedelic 60’s Flash Cadillac played 50’s music. While people were sporting long hair and wearing beads and bell bottoms, Flash came on stage in greased back hair, wearing leather jackets, polo shirts and chino pants.
Flash’s shows were wild and raucous, and the highlight of each night was the twist contest, held later in the show when crowd’s resistance was greatly lessened due to mass consumption of 3.2 beer. The twist contest originally started out sedately enough, with the best twisters getting into the finals. But it all changed when people started doffing articles of clothing in the finals. It then became that you had to start doffing articles of clothing to get into the finals. What logically followed was that people had to doff their clothes to get into the semifinals, with the next step being that people would start the contest sans clothes. That’s right, nude couples on the dance floor.
There was no need to call it a twist contest anymore because it was now known as “Skin to Win.” As soon as the contest was announced the crowd started chanting “Skin, Skin, Skin” in unison. When the winners were announced, the happy, nude couples would come up onto the stage and receive everlasting prizes such as hub caps, the back seats from cars and other items which cannot be mentioned in a family newsletter. Instead of having the band’s name on the marquee, Tulagi put up the phrase “Gross Night,” which pretty much captured what went on and which also acted as a warning to the prudish. People lined up on 13th street starting in the afternoon and when the doors opened in the evening the crowd was so large there was no guarantee that all those on line would get in.
Unfortunately, sometimes when something is great, forces conspire to end the fun. One night during the twist contest a few people threw beer on each other. It then graduated to pitcher-throwing. The entire crowd was asked to leave and they did so, with people leaving in various stages of dress and undress who continued the stupidity on the Hill, where the rowdiness extended to the streets.
This was the last straw for those who ran the city, and Flash was banned from playing in Boulder. This of course did not end the merriment, because there was a club on North Broadway called The Function (now the Bustop). Since The Function was outside the city limits there was nothing Boulder could do to stop those shows.
With Flash’s popularity outside Boulder increasing, the band moved to LA. in 1970. From there the band went on to national fame and fortune, playing stadiums and pop festivals and appearing in the movies “American Graffiti” and “Apocalypse Now.”
In 2012 the band was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
Regardless of the Hill’s current (mistaken) reputation, it is highly unlikely that current and future denizens of the Hill will ever be able to attend Gross Night and get to yell “skin, skin, skin” while being clothed or unclothed.