What Happened To Disco ?
If you are from North America, you would likely answer the question “What Happened to Disco?” with the statement “It Died”, but for people from everywhere else in the world the story might be something a bit different.
I am posting this story here not because I have some need to wear white bell-bottom rune stone encrusted pants, and point simultaneously at the floor and the sky as I think I look incredibly awesome in the middle of a multicolored dance floor, but because I think it is an interesting bit of history that is worth reading about, and also that the music at the bottom should be listened to at least once by everyone.
I, as a Canadian born in the 70s, was raised by my fellow Rock and Roll countrymen to hate Disco, it was the definition of uncool, and other than owning a Village People albums when I was about six, I have pretty much avoided the music for most of my life.
First a little bit of history here about what happened to Disco in North America, where it did indeed die a very fast and painful death. For a while Disco was very popular, peaking with movies such as Saturday Night Fever, everyone just could not seem to get enough of music that seemed destined with its rhythm to make you get up and dance.
Unfortunately, for Disco, it became too popular too fast, many radio stations started switching from Rock to Disco to try and cash in on the popularity, and that created a backlash against the music.
The beginning of disco’s end in North America can be traced back to a series of events that happened in 1979 in Chicago, USA. A popular DJ in named Steve Dahl was fired from local rock radio station WDAI for refusing to play disco music, he then got a job at rival album-rock station WLUP and began his anti Disco campaign. Dahl created a mock organization called “The Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army” to oppose disco. Dahl with his broadcast partner Garry Meier continually mocked and scorned disco records on air.
On Thursday, July 12, 1979 Dahl, Meier, and Mike Veeck (son of then-White Sox owner Bill Veeck), Jeff Schwartz, WLUP Sales Manager, and Dave Logan, WLUP Promotion Director, devised a promotional event dubbed Disco Demolition Night. People were allowed to bring unwanted disco music records to the White Sox game in exchange for the admission fee of 98¢ (representing the station’s location on the FM dial, 97.9). The records would be collected, placed in a large crate in center field, and blown up by Dahl.
The turnout for this promotion far exceeded expectations. White Sox management had hoped for around 12,000 people, but an estimated 90,000 turned up at the 52,000-seat stadium. Thousands of people climbed walls and fences attempting to enter Comiskey Park, while others were denied admission.
The crate on the field was soon filled with records, and once the staff stopped collecting any more from the crowd, the spectators who realized records were shaped like frisbees, began to throw records from the stands during the game, often striking other fans. Some people also threw beer and firecrackers from the stands.
After the first game of the double header Dahl, dressed as a soldier, entered the field with bodyguards. He led the stadium in a chant of “Disco Sucks” and then after a countdown, detonated the crate of disco LPs, the explosives tore a hole in the outfield grass surface and a small fire began burning. Dahl, Shark, and the bodyguards hopped into a jeep which circled the field once and then exited. Thousands of fans then rushed onto the field. Some started small scale riots, and lit more fires. The batting cage was pulled down and wrecked, the bases were stolen, and the field was destroyed. The scoreboard flashed, “PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR SEATS.”, eventually the chaos was ended by Police in Riot gear, six people had minor injuries and thirty-six people were arrested.
Soon after the event, speaking the word Disco was almost treated as a swear, and eventually North American disco died.
However, in the rest of the world Disco continued, and has over the last three decades changed considerably, the lyrics are mostly gone, and it has mutated into what is often called Trance music, it has even made its way back to North America and is often played again in Night Clubs, and at Raves.
Since most people will never hear this on the radio stations back home I decided to put a few examples of this music here, fellow North Americans, I have posted nothing but Rock on this website, and will probably continue to do so after this post, but this is some music that you best have a listen to. I was introduced to this music by Europeans in 1994, and do enjoy it. However I enjoy lyrics with music, so rock is still my favorite.
I hated Disco for the girly voices coming out of men, the outfits, the glitter, and the posing. Thankfully all of that has gone away over the years. Love it or hate it it’s no skin off my back, this is what will great you in most clubs in Europe as you open the door, so crank it up and imagine you are walking through those doors when you hear it.