The Hampton’s on Long Island have a long history of presenting New Yorkers and tourists with the ultimate lineup of legendary clubs dating back to the 1960s. In East Quogue on Dune Road there were three clubs that became the “it,” places to hit during the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. Summers Beach club, Hot Dog Beach and Neptunes were packed on a daily basis. All clubs were within close distance of each other. They all featured live bands, djs and huge crowds.
The Nor’easter storm of 1991 destroyed Summers Beach Club. The club was eventually rebuilt, but it was not the same as before. Even though Summers Beach club continued to be successful, the emergence of hip hop in the nineties and other cultural changes turned the place into a very different club than what it had been in the 60’s 70’s and 80s.
I was in a band called Phase IV that used to play Summers Beach Club in the 1980’s. We played there for a few years every Wednesday afternoon from June to the end of August. Summers Beach Club had their bands start at 1.00 pm in the afternoon and play until 7:00 pm in the evening. All bands played long sets with long breaks. In between sets, there was a DJ that would spin records. The bands that played at Summers were all professional full-time rock and roll cover bands. When the band went off at Summers, the band at Neptunes would go on. The clubs seemed to time the sets of the bands so there would not be competition for volume between the two clubs. Summers and Neptunes were not right next door to each other, but they were close enough in which you could hear the bands from each club when they were playing.
The crowds at Summers were a mix of Long Islanders, city folk and tourists. Most of the people who frequented Summers Beach Club were in their twenties, but of course there was always a variety of people from every age group.
Summers Beach Club had an indoor bar that remained closed during the week. On weekdays in the 80s, the club closed at night. On the weekends they were open at night and the indoor bars was only used during the weekends. However, the Summers Beach Club experience was all about the great outdoors. There was nothing like sipping a Pina Colada on a stool under the sun on an open deck, listening to some great music. While we are on the topic of Pina Coladas, I have never tasted a Pina Colada as good as the ones that were made at Summers. Unlike many clubs that used premixtures, Summers Beach Club would open a fresh can of Coco Lopez, fresh pineapple juice and rum every time they blended a new pitcher. They had many different frozen drinks at Summers Beach Club, but the basic Pina Coladas were by far their best.
There were two bars on the open deck at Summers Beach Club. There was a bar in the center of the deck that had a wooden roof over it. The bar fit about tens chairs in a row on each of the bars four sides. There was also a small bar on the edge of the deck overlooking the beach that was uncovered. Summers Beach Club had a large stage for bands. Between the band stage and center bar was a large area for dancing. However, when the bands were cooking, there was dancing everywhere.
The owners of Summers Beach Club wanted a wild party atmosphere. They wanted people to dance, sweat and drink. The club owners would send shot girls up onto the stage to force the musicians to drink. They wanted the band to be as loose as they could be to ignite that wild party atmosphere. In between sets, the musicians would MC drinking contests at the bar. A Summer’s Beach Club favorite was belly button shots in which a person would lie down on the bar and a member of the opposite sex would drink from a shot glass placed in the belly button of the person lying on the bar. The only catch was they could not use their hands and they had to crawl over the person to do it. At times, it got a bit crazy.
A big “no no,” at Summers Beach Club was drinking on the beach. All alcohol consumption had to be done on the deck. From the bandstand, I saw many people getting arrested for drinking on the beach. The East Quogue Police would handcuff people right on the beach if they were caught drinking on the sand.
The bands that played at Summers could be pretty loud. The East Quogue Police would often come up on the deck and measure our volume with sound meters. We were told many times to turn down or pack up. It was always tough to “turn it down,” when the crowds were going wild and screaming at you to turn it up.
In the late 1960s Billy Joel and his band The Hassles used to play at Summers Beach Club. I met the band’s original drummer Jon Small at Summers one afternoon when we were playing there. He had many great stories about the Hassles. A week later we were on stage and there was Billy Joel sitting at the bar watching us play. That was the type of place it was. You never knew who would show up.
Summers was one of three big time beach clubs on Dune Road. Neptunes and Hot Dog Beach were the other two where bands played during the day and at night on weekends. They were fun places but I always loved Summers the best.
The 70s and 80s were the time period in which Long Islanders had so many choices of clubs to attend in which they could see great rock bands and have a real good time. So many clubs had live music seven nights a week. There was a different type of club for everyone. That was a long time ago…..